ALBANY – The two Democratic candidates for New York lieutenant governor are courting the votes of Asian-Americans and highlighting the political influence of the nation’s fastest growing minority group.
Tim Wu would be the first Asian-American elected to statewide office in New York if he wins the lieutenant governorship. On Thursday, the Columbia University law professor said his candidacy has received a warm reception from Asian-Americans. Wu is running alongside gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, who is mounting a longshot campaign to oust Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this fall.
“I think there are a lot of people dissatisfied with the Cuomo administration,” Wu told reporters in Albany. “I also think my Chinese-American and Asian-American brothers and sisters are really interested in the possibility of having the first Asian-American statewide official and every time I go to Flushing, or other Chinatowns in New York, the response has been incredibly enthusiastic.”
Cuomo’s pick to be lieutenant governor, former Buffalo congresswoman Kathleen C. Hochul, responded Friday with a list of endorsements from Asian-American leaders and organizations, including the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, a Democrat from Queens who is the state’s first Asian-American member of Congress.
“I’m deeply honored to receive the support of so many leading members of New York’s Asian-American community,” Hochul said in a statement. “Delivering a quality education for our children, strengthening our small businesses, and protecting and expanding services for our seniors are common goals we will achieve through collective action with the support of the Asian-American community.”
Asian-Americans recently overtook Latinos as the nation’s fastest growing minority. According to census data, New York State is home to 1.6 million people of Asian heritage, a group that makes up more than 8 percent of the state’s population.
It’s a group that a wields increasing political clout – influence that could be even more apparent in a low-turnout election like a primary, according to Paul Watanabe, a political scientist and the director of the Institute for Asian-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
“It throws an interesting wildcard into the equation,” he said.