Election 2016: Asian Americans push for seat at the table as candidates

Brandon Lee
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago
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Asian Americans are making their voices heard at the ballot box, and demanding a seat at the table as elected officials. For the March 15 primary election, the Asian American community of Illinois had increased access to the polls, turned out to vote in large numbers in the northwest suburbs thanks to voter engagement efforts, and ran successful campaigns for public office.

“Not only are Asian Americans voting at higher numbers, but they are energized to participate in the November election,” said Tuyet Le, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. “Now, we are seeing more community members eying seats at federal, state, and local levels of government.”

On Tuesday night, Theresa Mah won a narrow victory in the 2nd State Representative District, which contains much of Chicago’s Chinatown and surrounding areas. Mah will face no Republican opposition in November, and will become the first ever Asian American member of the Illinois General Assembly when she takes office in 2017. Asian Americans make up over 23% of the 2nd district.

Raja Krishnamoorthi won the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District. Krishnamoorthi will face Republican Pete DiCianni in a district that has over 93,000 Asian Americans. The 8th district has the second most Asian Americans of any Congressional District in Illinois.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Asian American who had previously represented the 8th Congressional District, won the Democratic Party’s Senate nomination and will face incumbent Senator Mark Kirk. There are nearly 700,000 Asian Americans in Illinois, and in 2010 Senator Kirk won by fewer than 60,000 votes.

Josina Morita won one of the Democratic Party nominations for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Morita and two other Democrats will be up for a 6 year term on the November ballot, facing a slate of three Green Party candidates (the top 3 vote-getters win seats on the MWRD).

Harish Patel was vying to be the first Muslim member of the Illinois General Assembly, running in the 40th district on Chicago’s northwest side, but lost his primary race to incumbent Representative Jaime Andrade.

Andrew Seo, running for a 2-year term on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, finished in 3rd place.


Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago is the leading pan-Asian, multi-issue organization in the Midwest dedicated to empowering the Asian American community through advocacy by utilizing education, research, and coalition-building. Established in 1992, Advancing Justice | Chicago (formerly the Asian American Institute) was founded by a group of visionary Chicago community activists, academicians, and business leaders in response to the growing need to build a pan-Asian policy agenda among Chicago’s diverse Asian American communities. Advancing Justice | Chicago projects a united voice on the most pressing issues of concern to Asian Americans in metropolitan Chicago.

Advancing Justice | Chicago is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It is a member of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice national affiliation, with partner affiliates in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Atlanta.