Do's election gives Orange County — and most likely Southern California — its first Asian American majority Board of Supervisors. Michelle Park Steel, a Korean American, and Lisa Bartlett, a Japanese American, won seats on the five-member Orange County board in November.
In this and other recent races, the success of Asian American candidates may represent renewed hope for the Orange County GOP, which has seen its once-ironclad grip on the county slip significantly in recent decades amid a growing Latino population.
In 2012, a Latina schoolteacher named Sharon Quirk-Silva defeated GOP Assemblyman Chris Norby in a northwestern district. In November, however, Republican Young Kim, a Korean American, ousted Quirk-Silva while county Supervisor Janet Nguyen, a Vietnamese American and a Republican, defeated Jose Solorio in a state Senate district controlled by the Democrats.
[Political scientists Fred] Smoller described the results of the Do-Correa contest as a "bellwether," saying: "The Vietnamese seem to be doing to Hispanics what the Hispanics started to do to the Anglos. It's an ethnic shift."
Fred Whitaker, chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County, said the results of the 2012 election — in which only 27% of Asian Americans in California voted with the GOP — was a wake-up call for the party. He said the party has since ramped up efforts to reach voters of Asian descent.
"We're out there with a very significant ground game in terms of registering Vietnamese Republicans and getting them out to vote," Whitaker said. Last fall, the party focused on the Korean vote to support Steel and Kim.