Attending were folks representing national grassroots organizations such as APAs for Progress and Real Americans for Democracy (a next-gen project rising from the success of "macaca-slayers" Real Virginians for Webb), PACs like the Asian American Action Fund, as well as APA staffers from campaigns and Congressional offices, those who had worked APIA outreach for the DNC, and folks from ethnic media and local community service organizations.
In addition to buzzing about the field of new Presidential candidates and debriefing from the midterms, the series of meetings provided an opportunity for a highly energized and diverse body of Asian Americans to network, weigh future cooperative projects, and discuss problems and priorities in the community.
Although as diverse a bunch as you could find -- style, region, ethnicity, age, profession -- I overheard some common themes in the group buzz.
- One was a general sense that the Democratic Party has taken a demonstrable turn in the last couple of elections, paying more attention to APAs and expanding opportunities for them to be involved at multiple levels of the Party.
- Another was that this investment has demonstrably paid off, and it is likely that efforts to outreach to APA constiuencies will probably see continued, increased support in the Party moving forward. We'll probably see more Asian faces at the conventions, on staffs, and out there stumping and canvassing.
- A third was that the midterms saw an increasing number of dedicated APAs, especially younger people, gaining valuable field experience and becoming engaged in campaigns and GOTV at a deeper level than in the past, and as a result...
- Asian Americans may still be far away from having a big umbrella organization like a La Raza or NAACP, but building coalition and cooperation seems to be a common interest among disparate activist groups intrested in affecting elections. (On a related note, see the coincidental release by the new 80-20 Initiative board this weekend, too.)
And what did the group have to say about the candidates? I can't say a consensus favorite emerged this weekend, but on one thing everyone seemed to agree: Asian Americans are looking for Bill Richardson to address The Wen Ho Lee issue, and it probably won't be comfortable for him.