Asian American seeks RI governorship

Updated: 2014-11-04 12:21

By Ai Heping in New York(China Daily USA)

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The race for governor of Rhode Island is expected to be one of the tightest state house races in the nation on Tuesday. And no matter which of the leading candidates wins, it will be a "first".

For Republican Allan Fung, he would become the state's first Asian-American governor. And for Democrat Gina Raimondo, she would be the first female governor.

Fung, the mayor of Cranston, and Raimondo, the state's treasurer, are in statistical tie, with each at about 38 percent, according to a Brown University poll.

Asian American seeks RI governorship

In California, home of the nation's largest Asian population, more than a dozen Chinese Americans are in various state house and local races.

Peter Kuo is a candidate for the 10th Senate district; Kansen Chu is running for state Assembly; David Chiu is standing for San Francisco's 17th district; Yan Zhao is seeking the Saratoga city council, and Barry Chang is up for re-election to Cupertino's city.

In Rhode Island, a third candidate is Robert Healey, formerly of the Cool Moose Party and now running as the Moderate Party candidate. In the Brown poll, he received nearly 12 percent of the likely vote. Republicans say he is siphoning support from Fung. Democratic Governor Lincoln Chafee isn't seeking re-election.

The campaign has largely focused on the state's lagging economy. Both candidates say they would create jobs and spur economic growth.

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the state for Raimondo.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, made his third visit to the state on Monday to support Fung. Former Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney also has campaigned for him in the state.

Only 3.3 percent of Rhode Island's population is Asian American, well below the national average.

"For me it would be monumental," Fung said about possibly winning the election in an interview with "It was very historic that I was the first Asian-American mayor of Cranston."

Fung is in his third term as mayor in the city of about 81,000.

"Being Asian and part of the community for so many years, people knew me growing up," said Fung, who started working in his parents' Chinese restaurant at the age of 9.

Fung said that he's just as the candidate and not running as an Asian American. "I don't make the point that I'm Asian American or I'd be the first Asian-American governor," said Fung.