Seema Mehta and Anh Do at LAT:
A new Southern California congressional district was created expressly to empower Asian Americans — binding together residents of Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Indian descent to give those voters a stronger voice in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The race to represent the district, which includes portions of Los Angeles and Orange counties, has turned into a mud-slinging battle rife with accusations of racism, sexism and red-baiting between two Asian American candidates.
Incumbent Rep. Michelle Steel, a Korean American immigrant, has accused her Democratic rival, Jay Chen, of mocking her accent. Chen, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, responded with an op-ed titled “I didn’t mock Michelle Steel’s accent.” Steel has also tried to paint Chen, a Navy Reserve intelligence officer, as sympathetic to China’s authoritarian regime; Chen says she’s red-baiting.
“This district was drawn with the aspirational hope that it would uplift Asians,” said Democratic redistricting expert Paul Mitchell. “There’s nothing to suggest a district that’s heavily Asian like this could have the consequence of a slugfest or a mud fight between different Asian elected officials. That’s clearly unfortunate.”
The new 45th congressional district was created last year by an independent redistricting panel in the once-per-decade, post-census redrawing of political maps. It is more competitive than Steel’s current district and includes the Asian American hubs of Westminster, Cerritos and Artesia.