With nearly two years to go until the 2024 presidential election, state and national Asian American and Pacific Islander groups are eyeing California’s 47th Congressional District, where they say conditions are ripe for an Asian American candidate to claim the seat.

Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Silicon Valley, who chairs the California Asian American & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, said a candidate not having to face an incumbent – Rep. Katie Porter recently announced her campaign for U.S. Senate – is itself an opportunity, while the large AAPI population living in the district strengthens the pathway for a candidate from that community to get elected.

“It’s rare when congressional seats become open because members of Congress serve for long periods of time. So when there’s an open congressional seat, that is historic in its nature,” he said. “And especially when you’re looking at the demographics of this congressional seat in the 47th, there is a significant AAPI population, and therefore it’s that much more important for us to seize this opportunity.”

The new 47th district being vacated by Porter runs along the coast, spanning Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. Inland, it covers Costa Mesa and Irvine, where more than four out of 10 residents are Asian. The Asian American voting-age population in the district is nearly 20%, which places it among the top 10 congressional districts in the country with a large Asian American population, Nic Jordan, executive director of the ASPIRE PAC, said.

“It’s so important for our community to have representation, to have leaders that come from our community, that understand the issues that we face and can actually have a seat at the table and be part of the decision-making process,” Jordan said. “So we really see the 47th district as an excellent opportunity to elect an AAPI leader.”

Recently, the ASPIRE PAC, the political arm for AAPI Democrats in Congress, endorsed state Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, for the 47th district race. The California API Legislative Caucus, for which Min serves as Senate vice chair, also expressed its support for his campaign. Both groups view it as one of only a few potential pickups in 2024.

In the most recent election cycle, ASPIRE, according to OpenSecrets, a campaign finance tracking source, raised $1.2 million and spent $1.3 million, giving nearly $150,000 to support campaigns of federal candidates, including Reps. Judy Chu, Mike Levin and Ted Lieu.

“Right off the bat, the Asian American community is the fastest growing community of color across the country. And that’s coupled with the fact that they’ve increased their voter turnout in the past several elections,” Jordan said. “It’s just so important to see people that look like us in Congress.”

But that growth hasn’t necessarily been reflected in spaces of power, Low said. “There is a glaring omission of AAPI representation in corporate boards as well as the federal administration.”

Jordan, who is Chinese American, experienced firsthand a lack of Asian American faces in politics when he first arrived in Washington D.C., he said. He was one of five Asian Americans on a staff of 80.

“More people in government should look like me, more people in government should come from our community,” he said. “And I just think that kind of extends to our elected representatives.”

“Whether it’s better gun safety laws or standing up against anti-Asian hate, these are issues that the community feels very strongly about,” he added. “The open 47th district is an excellent opportunity to connect with those voters.”

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