Thursday, July 12, 2001

A New Affiliate/Improving Odds for AsAm Candidates

(1) Good news: 80-20 adds a new Affiliate to its family of Affiliates in SF. The new member is The Vietnamese-Cambodian-Loatian Association of Ethnic Chinese, VCL Assoc. The others are Citizens for Better Community (CBC) of Fremont, Chinese Am. Political Assoc. of N. California, and Silicon Valley Voter Education Service Center. These Affiliates exhibited superb leadership in 80-20's recent flag-project, for which 80-20 is most grateful

(2) A Proposal: 80-20 was asked by leaders in SF, LA and NYC to submit a proposal to the APA community to improving the chance of victory for APA candidates running a big cities.

Unless you live in a big city and are intimately involved with supporting APA candidates, its contents may not be of high interest to you.

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 Subject: A Proposal To Improve The Chance Of Victory For APA Candidates Running In Big Cities In cities like Houston, NY, LA and SF, the probability of having two or more significant APA political candidates competing against each others (e.g. City council or a party primary) has increased greatly, owing to our growing population. Often the multi-candidate situation resulted in a defeat for all APA candidates, while a single APA candidate could have won the election.
80-20 believes that such unfortunate situations should be avoided. Our numbers are small. Our strength lies in our unity. Hence, 80-20's Steering Committee resolves to recommend the following proposal to the APA community, although 80-20 itself does not intend to get involved in local elections.

Whenever two or more significant APA candidates compete for the same position, our community may want to mediate so that there will be one APA candidate only. Failing to mediate, an equitable way should be found so that a straw vote will be held within the APA community to advise the competing candidates. The one who loses the straw vote by a large margin must drop out or be ostracized by the community in his/her future races. If the straw vote is close and one of the candidate is willing to withdraw, then varying amount of future help should be committed by the community to the withdrawing candidate.

Stating a general principle is easy, the devil is in details. Questions such as 1) who may participate in the straw vote, and 2) what represents "a large margin," 3) what is "a close vote," 4) How good is the commitment for the future help, are hard to define and must be agreed upon, before a straw vote is held.

One way that some of above questions can be settled is for the relevant local community to first hold a "Unity Fundraiser" whose net intake should be at least 25% of the expected cost of the relevant race or $500,000 whichever is the smaller. That is, if a race is expected to cost one million dollars, the Unity Fundraiser should raise at least $250,000. If the race is expected to cost 6 million, the unity-fundraiser should deliver at least $500,000.

A fundraising committee composed of committed supporters of all significant candidates, and uncommitted "movers and shakers" should be formed first. Checks are written and signed, but the "payable to" is not filled out. The voting power of participants is decided by the dollar figure in their checks. Winner of the straw vote takes all the money. That way all relevant significant candidates are likely to encourage their supporters to participate in the fundraiser and are likely to respect the result of the straw vote.

The larger the total dollar figure of the fundraiser, the larger the collective clout of the organizers of the "Unity Fundraiser. A straw vote is not guaranteed to get the losing candidate to bow out. However, it is almost guaranteed to rally support for the winner of the straw vote. That candidate will be at least $500,000 or 25% ahead in the war chest on day one. The other candidate(s) will in effect be forced to drop out.

Note that the method does not favor the rich. An activist who is not financially wealthy could go out and collect 100 checks of $100 each thereby earning the equivalent voting power of $10,000. A billionaire does not dictate the straw vote. The maximum contribution by a participant in the straw vote must be the same as the maximum set by the state law.

The Unity Fundraiser is not a perfect device to break impasses between APA candidates. However, it is overall a win-win policy. The candidates will win for two reasons. The candidate winning the Unity Fundraiser will 1) have a united community behind her/him, and 2) getting a large sum of "early seed money," critical for election victory. Even the losing candidate wins. He/she may get early commitment from the community for his/her next race. The community wins. It captures political seats that it otherwise may not.

The 80-20 National will not participate in local elections or its straw votes for two main reasons. First, all politics is local. 80-20's National normally does not know enough about local politics. Secondly, participating in local elections may damage 80-20's effectiveness in uniting the APA community during the presidential election.

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 80-20 is a national nonpartisan Political Action Committee dedicated to winning equality and justice for all Asian Pacific Americans through a swing bloc-vote. For more details, visit