Mazie for Senate

Next year, Congress will be making critical decisions about government funding for education, job training, housing, health care, social security, youth and senior centers and civil rights enforcement.   Congress will also be taking up immigration, racial profiling, workforce investment and no child left behind. These policy choices will have a disproportionate impact on Asian Americans and their families.

So it is exciting that we have a historic number of Asian Americans running for Congress who have a good chance of winning in November.  There is Mark Takano, a High School teacher who is running for Congress in Riverside, California and Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who is running for Congress in the Chicago suburbs against an infamous tea party freshman in Congress.

And we have an historic opportunity to see the first Asian American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.  Congresswoman Mazie Hirono from Hawaii is facing off against former Governor Linda Lingle.  When Mazie was a little girl, her mother fled an abusive husband in Japan and immigrated with Mazie and her brother to Hawaii to start a new life together.  Mazie watched her mother strive every day to provide food and shelter for them.  She understands first-hand how tough it can be for vulnerable families and the important role government can play in providing a safety net while also investing in communities.  Speaking no English initially, Mazie attended public schools and put herself through college, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Hawaii and earning her law degree from Georgetown University.  She went on to serve in the Hawaii State Legislature and then as Lieutenant Governor before she ran and won her House seat in 2006.

We are seeing extraordinary attacks on federal programs and laws serving women, minorities and immigrants – programs that often affect access and funding on a local level.  If elected to the U.S. Senate, Mazie can be the vital and effective voice we need to ensure that we continue to make progress as a nation to opening up opportunities and ensuring fairness.

These battles are going on in the courts as well as Congress.  President Obama has made an unprecedented number of appointments of women and minorities to the federal bench.  We’ve seen the important role federal judges are playing.  Under his Administration the number of Asian American women federal judges has more than tripled and we had the first Asian American woman sworn in as a federal appellate judge.  However, the partisan confirmation battles in the Senate have been unnecessarily brutal with conservative senators largely blocking exceptionally well qualified women and minorities like Goodwin Liu.  Imagine how different the Senate debate could be with Mazie’s powerful voice as an experienced legislator who can personally speak to the importance of a more diverse judiciary.

If she wins, Mazie would be the only woman of color in the senate, as well as the only immigrant.  There hasn’t been a minority woman since Carol Mosely Braun who was the first.