Filipino Congressional Aspirants

There were five, oh wait six, of us, so it turns out. If you have been following ABS-CBN as well as a feature on NBC.com (which you can find by clicking on this link https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/historically-underrepresented-filipino-american-candidates-look-toward-congress-n930036), the press had finally latched onto the story that this was the year of the Filipino. But not counting Bobby Scott, a long-time Democrat Congressman whose grandmother was Filipina, the rest of us ran first time races. Four of us lost and the one final hope is Gina Ortiz-Jones the much covered half-Filipina in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District.

Vote counting can rarely produce as much drama as the Ortiz-Hurd race in Texas 23. Until about 60% of the precincts were counted last night, Ortiz-Jones and Hurd were too close to call. Then Hurd pulled ahead and the race was called by several papers, including the Washington Post. When the final votes came in, the race had to be uncalled. Will Hurd, the centrist Republican incumbent, with 102,903 votes, is only 689 votes ahead of Ortiz-Jones, a margin that makes the race open to a recount. That would not be a cheap prospect. It would cost Ortiz-Jones’ campaign over $100,000. And so, as of a few hours ago, the race hasn’t been called.

I lost my race, a bid for United States Representative against Jackie Speier in the 14th district of California. It is a better outcome than it sounds. In previous elections, the Republican challenger to Jackie would lose with close to 20% of the vote. In 2016, the Republican candidate received 19% of the vote. Last night, with initial results in, I started with slightly over 26% of the vote. That percentage will trend lower as late voters are counted but if I ultimately received 23%-24% of the vote, is a meaningful improvement over past candidates and meaningfully better than Republican registration in the district. I want to thank everyone who supported be as I thanked supporters last night. I will make my best attempt to contact and thank everyone I have met (if I was lucky enough to get your contact information and not misplace it.)

I am very pleased with these results in a challenging year for my party and against an incumbent. Dozens of people have helped me.

And now I am going to say what I was planning to say after this election: IT IS YOUR TURN. Running for office is stressful and costly but Filipinos are naturals in this field. We need a Filipino or Filipina in higher office. To be fairly represented, we need four to six in the House of Representatives. If anyone in this community, irrespective of party, is interested in jumping in, I will be happy to share my lessons from this grueling campaign. My campaign email is still up and running [email protected]. Future politicians? Any? Any?

There were two other Fil-Am Democrats who ran for the House of Representatives in the general—Jennifer Zimmerman in Florida’s first congressional district. She ran as a Democrat in a heavily R district. Dr. Z received 32.9% of the vote. TJ Cox, a Fil-Am, received 46.3% against incumbent David Valdao. While the district leans Democratic and is held by a Republican, TJ Cox appears to have entered the race late after preparing to run in a different race. Kenneth Mejia received 25.8% of the vote to represent California’s 34th district. Mejia is a Green Party candidate and one of the few non-binary candidates in the general, an accomplishment in itself.

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