Wednesday, February 07, 2007

OC Special Election: Who's to Blame for Our Loss? WE ARE.

So who are we to blame for yesterday's loss? Whose fault is it that we have lost our one and only Board of Supervisors seat in Orange County? Some are blaming State Senator Lou Correa. Some may want to blame Santa Ana DINO Mayor Miguel Pulido. I was about ready to blame Garden Grove Councilmember Mark Rosen as the Democratic spoiler...

But you know who is really to blame? WE ARE! I saw this as a comment on The Liberal OC, and it got me thinking:

One thing I’ve learned - until you take full responsibility for your loss, you won’t learn from your mistakes.

But you know what? Publius is correct. We need to take responsibility for our mistakes, and make sure that we don't repeat them in the future.

Basically while we OC Democrats were focusing on taking down Carlos Bustamante in Santa Ana, we were ignoring what was happening in the rest of the district. The whole Janet Nguyen-Trung Nguyen Battle of the Absentee Ballots caught us completely off guard. I'll admit that even I didn't recognize this until the very end. Not until last week did I and others finally realize how we put ourselves in peril by avoiding any type of serious outreach in the Vietnamese community for this election. Some might say that we could not have won the Vietnamese vote against a Vietnamese GOP candidate, but I must still say that there was no excuse for us to just avoid the entire community and risk losing the recent gains we have made with younger Vietnamese voters for future elections.

Why did we pick a candidate who doesn't particularly have a good track record of community involvement? Why didn't we participate in more Vietnamese community functions? Why didn't we get our potential supporters to vote absentee like the two leading Republican candidates did? Why didn't we give Latino and Vietnamese working-class voters a reason to get out and vote for our person?

Hopefully, this disappointing and frustrating loss will teach us a serious lesson: STAY CONNECTED WITH ALL THE ETHNIC COMMUNITIES!! Last night, I spoke with Irvine City Councilmember Suhkee Kang. Apparently next year, he will be running for mayor when Beth Krom is termed out (as mayor, but NOT on city council). Already, the Irvine Democrats (Krom, Kang, and Larry Agran) are working on continuing the relationship with Asian-American communities in Irvine that has resulted in their long-running success in what's supposed to be a "Republican city". Of course back in Central OC, Loretta Sanchez wouldn't still be in Congress today if it weren't for her terrific outreach to the Vietnamese community. Lou Correa wouldn't be our State Senator today if it weren't for his team's amazing outreach to the Vietnamese community. Perhaps we should learn from these two successful Orange County Democrats, and remember to stay connected with the voters in the district.

OK, so not all the news from OC is bad. I'm glad that the young Democratic
are reaching out to young people in ALL ETHNIC COMMUNITIES in Central OC... So why couldn't we follow their lead? Why didn't I see as much Vietnamese outreach going on for this election as I did last year in SD 34? Lou Correa and Loretta Sanchez have always had strong outreach programs to the Vietnamese community. Why couldn't Umberg do the same? Hopefully from now on, we have learned the consequences of what happens when we ignore the working-class ethnic voters that we are supposed to represent. Lou Correa and Loretta Sanchez don't, and that's why they are trusted by the community. I hope we follow their example.

I know that we Orange County Democrats worked our patooties off to get Tom Umberg elected to the Board of Supervisors. Unfortunately, we came short. But still, we shouldn't give up. Lou Correa showed us how to reach out to working families in Orange County. Loretta Sanchez showed us how we can build bridges among different communities to create a lasting winning coalition. If we Orange County Democrats want to get our groove back and start winning again, then perhaps we should pay attention to our two most prominent elected officials. If they can win, then so can we.

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