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I get a lot of press releases. I don’t like printing them “bare,” if I even do so at all. Most of them don’t especially move me. Sometimes I work them into stories; most often I read them and pass. But there’s a press release I received today that did move me — it had me beaming, in fact. It wasn’t so much due to what it said and due to what it showed. Here was the photo attached.
Here’s the press release — and then I’ll tell you why this photo made me smile.
Fullerton, CA – Latino elected officials spoke to press in Fullerton today in support of Democratic candidate for Congress Jay Chen. They emphasized the importance of the Latino American vote in the upcoming elections.
Representative Linda Sanchez and State Senators Lou Correa and Ed Hernandez showed their public support of Chen. Other local community leaders also attended the conference and endorsed Chen, including La Habra Councilwoman Rose Espinoza, Hacienda La Puente School Board Member Anthony Duarte, and candidate for Assembly Ian Calderon.
“I can’t think of a better candidate to serve this district than Jay,” Sanchez said. “He is someone who will fight for our community, and he understands what’s at stake – the need to grow our economy, to try to include everybody, to make sure we have access to higher education for the next generation. I’m counting on each one of you to make sure this man makes it to Congress.”
The Latino officials each said that Chen is the best candidate for the newly drawn 39th District, which is now 30% Asian and 30% Hispanic. “What makes California so great is its diversity. What makes the 39th District so great and so unique is its diversity,” said Hernandez. “In California, majority is now the minority. Jay is the individual that I think will best represent the 39th District. He will make sure that we move California forward and that the United States of America stays on track,”
Correa called Chen a “visionary” for encouraging students and young people – “not fearing competition, but grabbing competition, taking it head on, and winning. That is the American way. That’s why I’m here today in support of Jay.” He added, “There’s one week left. Let’s go out there, get our friends and family to vote, and make sure that they vote for Jay Chen.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who was unable to attend the event, offered Chen her official endorsement and sent a statement praising Chen for his plan to create jobs and invest in education. “Jay Chen is experienced, effective and energetic. Most importantly, he is in touch with the community. He has a plan to create jobs by giving tax breaks to companies that stay open for business here in America, and he will fight to bring more jobs to California. Jay understands we must invest more in schools to prepare our kids for the global workforce. He will fight for California’s fair share of education dollars. Jay is also sensitive to the needs of our veterans, and he will fight to ensure they get the health care services and job opportunities they deserve. Jay Chen has a proven track record of building coalitions, working hard and delivering results. I proudly endorse Jay Chen for Congress.”
“I’m honored to have received the endorsements of prominent Latino American leaders,” Chen said. “My opponent, Tea Party extremist Ed Royce, has voted to limit the rights of Latino Americans and of immigrants who come to our country to seek better opportunities. He has voted for and sponsored English-only laws, and wanted to make Arizona’s racial profiling law, SB 1070, a national standard. In Congress, I will make sure to represent the views of everyone, and make sure that everyone is provided equal opportunity to succeed.”
New polling data shows that voter registration in the 39th District has increased the voter pool over five percent, an increase that may determine the district’s next representative. Over 37% of the new voters registered are Democrats, leading the Republican new voter count by almost 2,500 individuals. The district consists of areas in three counties that have traditionally favored Republican candidates, but Chen sees the shifting voter demographic as a good sign for his race.
All of that’s nice — and I guess it’s about time that the secret was revealed that Democrats have been registering voters with a vengeance all through Jay’s 39th Congressional district and Sharon Quirk-Silva’s 65th Assembly District this year. (I’m informed that later voter registration figures than the ones I posted last Friday say that the 65th A.D. is now a majority Democratic district — which matches our best reasonable expectations for this year.) North Orange County has long been “the next area to turn Blue” — but it hadn’t happened until now.
[Disclosure of conflict of interest: my district overlaps both of theirs, though the OC portion unfortunately excludes most of Buena Park, so in that respect I may technically be the major beneficiary of these efforts. I do understand, though, that it was not done primarily for me as a candidate -- I'm most thrilled about if as a party official and a constituent!]
Part of that has come from Quirk-Silva and Loretta Sanchez working Latinos in Fullerton, Buena Park, and West Anaheim — and a lot has come from Jay Chen and his marauding squads of chipper and smiling volunteers just sweeping up new voters in the Taiwanese and Filipino communities north of the hills and the Korean community to the south..
What thrilled me about press release s was not even that Jay — fluent in rapid-fire Spanish and not too modest to flaunt it — probably wowed a lot of people there with his linguistic skills, although I still love that about the guy who’s going to be one of our region’s Democratic standard bearers.
No, what thrilled me about that photo — which includes conservative-leaning Democrats like Lou Correa and (I presume, given his family, Ian Calderon), staid moderates like Ed Hernandez and Rose Espinoza, and fiery liberals like Linda Sanchez — is that as disparate as this group is, they all wanted a piece of him! They were all very pleased — OK, maybe not Hernandez, but I’m told that he doesn’t crack a lot of smiles — to be part of this photo.
What brings out heavy hitters from the Latino community for a Chinese guy from over the hills?
People love a winner. Everybody wants to stand with a winner. And — everybody knows that Jay Chen is a winner — or, to say it in Spanish, todos piensan Jay Chen es un ganador.
This likely success for Chen was not a foregone conclusion. At the Democratic Party of Orange County’s Truman Dinner three months ago — while the names or Solorio and Brandman and Daly and Correa and Umberg were repeatedly tossed around from the dais like confetti — I don’t think that Jay’s candidacy was mentioned at all; if it was, it was maybe once and in passing. He and his wife and his campaign staff have worked their butts off to make this happen. And now it looks like it’s happening.
People who look at the partisan distribution of the district without realizing that not only are a lot more Republican-registered Asian-Americans are coming out to vote this year, but are coming out to vote for the Democrat, are missing the point. (The generally excellent analyst Scott Lay has dismissed Jay’s chances because the eastern San Gabriel Valley didn’t come out for John Chiang. John Chiang is the same race and ethnicity as many of these voters, but Jay is all that and is from their community! There’s a difference — just watch.)
When I spoke to Jay’s volunteers in his Diamond Bar headquarters in mid-summer, I told them that if they volunteered the hours they had promise to, they were worth thousands of dollars apiece — with their value growing as they gained increasing experience. Everyone knew that Royce was going to swamp Jay in mailers — I’ll be writing about that in the next couple of days — but Royce just can’t compete with Jay in terms of field. Royce can hire some mercenaries, but they’re not worth nearly as much as fired up members of the community — Jay’s community.
And North Orange County too, now, is part of Jay’s community.
Here’s the dirty secret that I think will truly doom Ed Royce: not many people really like him. Royce has picked and chosen what candidates would run and win in Fullerton and other cities in the region for a long time — and he has tended to pick ones who would not likely be a threat to him. (If you didn’t like Fullerton’s previous city council, to a great extent you can thank Ed Royce.) A lot of Republicans will shed few if any tears to see him go down. I suspect that some of them — maybe Shaun Nelson, Curt Hagman, even my own opponent Bob Huff and his La Habra factotum Tim Shaw — might even secretly pull the level for Jay. (No one’s getting any younger, after all!) They may think that they can beat Jay in 2014 — and I’m sure that some of them could give him a very good race. I don’t think that they’ll beat him though — the district has changed, is changing now, will further change as Democrats get a taste of either upset or near victory — and no one better reflects that change than Jay.
So yeah — as an “early adopter” of Jay Chen for Congress since I first heard the man speak in January — I love that everyone from Linda Sanchez to Ed Hernandez to Lou Correa has that gleam in their eyes about his future. I love being on the same side with even sometime political enemies as we root for Jay. He’s the Real Deal — a smiling winner — and almost everyone who meets him seems to know that.
I think that, deep in his gut, Desperate Ed Royce knows that too — and knows that even two mailers to everyone in the district per day won’t stave off the inevitable, and probably won’t even stave off defeat this very year.
Do you remember when Loretta Sanchez beat Bob Dornan in 1996? Well, if you missed that race, at least you’ll remember this one!