Wednesday, November 9, 2016

2016 Elections: Congress will have the most AAPI members in its history

By Louis Chan

THERE WILL be more Asian American & Pacific Islander members of Congress as a result of the Nov. 8 elections.

Fourteen AAPI voting members of Congress were elected, surpassing the previous record of 12.

Those elected include California Attorney General Kamala Harris who will become the first Indian/American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She beat Rep. Loretta Sanchez almost two-to-one.

Harris is already looking forward to her job in the Senate.

“Whatever the results of the presidential election tonight, we know that we have a task in front of us,” Harris told her cheering supporters early in the night. “We know the stakes are high. When we have been attacked and when our ideals and fundamental ideals are being attacked, do we retreat or do we fight? I say we fight!”

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Chicago), a purple heart veteran of the Iraq War, won election to the U.S. Senate to represent the state of Illinois by beating incumbent Senator Mark Kirk 54 percent to Kirk's 40 percent.

“Just as I try every day to live up to the sacrifice my buddies made to carry me off that battlefield, I will go to work in the Senate looking to honor the sacrifice and quiet dignity of all those Illinoisans who are facing challenges of their own,” she said Tuesday night.

Three Asian/American women will now serve in the U.S. Senate. The other will be Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, who became the first Asian/American woman elected to the Senate in 2012.

New to Congress will be Pramila Jayapal who beat fellow Democrat Brady Walkinshaw for the 7th Congressional district in Washington state 57 percent to 43 percent. Jayapal becomes the first Indian/American woman elected to the House of Representatives. Just like Harris, Jayapal, who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders, looked toward working under a Trump presidency.

“If our worst fears are realized, we will be on the defense as of tomorrow,” she said. “We will have to fight for social justice as never before.”

Another newcomer to Congress will be Democrat Stephanie Murphy who beat 12-term incumbent John Mica in the 7th District of Florida 51 percent to 49 percent.

She is the first Vietnamese/American woman elected to Congress. “Tonight, the people of central Florida rejected partisan deadlock and dysfunction and embraced a new approach,” said Murphy. “In Congress, I will work with both Democrats and Republicans, and I will always put people over politics.”

In California, high-tech entrepreneur Ro Khanna defeated eight-time incumbent Mike Honda 60 percent to 40 percent in California’s Santa Clara County. Honda was saddled by an ethics investigation that dates back to his 2014 reelection. He is accused of using his staff during taxpayer time to work on his reelection.

Replacing Tammy Duckworth in the House of Representatives will be S.Raja Krishnamoorthi. He beat Pete DiCianni 58 percent to 42 percent for the 8th District seat in Illinois.

Colleen Hanabusa returns to Congress to represent District 1 in Hawaii. She once held the seat, but gave it up to run for the U.S. Senate. She replaces the late Mark Takei who died of cancer earlier this year.

Reelected to Congress were Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento), Rep. Judy Chu (D-Los Angeles County), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Santa Monica), Rep. Mark Takano (D-Rivrside County), Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Rep. Ami Bera(D-Sacramento County).