Monday, June 14, 2004 | 06/14/2004 | Demos seek Asian votes | 06/14/2004 | Demos seek Asian votes

Posted on Mon, Jun. 14, 2004

Demos seek Asian votes


By Laura Kurtzman

Mercury News

Two prominent Asian-American Democrats, Rep. Mike Honda of San Jose and Washington Gov. Gary Locke, appeared in the Bay Area Sunday to promote presidential hopeful John Kerry by raising money and urging Asians-Americans to vote for him.

Honda and Locke, both of whom were appointed to Kerry's national steering committee Sunday, criticized President Bush's record on education, the economy and immigration, although they gave little indication of what Kerry would do differently.

The Democrats singled out the Bush administration's family reunification policy, an immigration issue of deep concern for many Asian-Americans with relatives abroad, for particular criticism. In the past, a limited number of family members were allowed to come to the United States to reunite with their relatives. But since Sept. 11, 2001, that has slowed.

``It is getting so difficult for people to visit the United States -- as tourists, as students or as business people,'' Locke said. ``And it's particularly hard to reunify families under the administration's immigration policies.''

In attacking Bush, Honda appropriated a line that Ronald Reagan used in his 1980 campaign against Jimmy Carter.

``Are you better off today than you were four years ago?'' Honda asked, suggesting that the obvious answer was no.

Kerry will be in San Jose and San Francisco next Wednesday to raise money. It will be his last appearance in the Bay Area before the Democratic national convention at the end of July, when he will receive federal matching campaign funds and will no longer need to make fundraising trips here.

The San Jose fundraiser will be at Parkside Hall at the Tech Museum of Innovation downtown. Speakers include Rob Reiner, a prominent Hollywood Democrat. Musical performers will include Carole King and the Flying Other Brothers, a rock band started by venture capitalist Roger McNamee.

On Sunday, the Kerry campaign held two small events for Asian donors, a reception at the San Jose Hyatt and a luncheon at the Gold Dragon in San Francisco's Chinatown. The campaign did not have figures Sunday for how much was raised.

After next week's fundraisers, Kerry is expected to have raised about $10 million in Northern California, according to Mark Gorenberg, a partner with the venture capital firm Hummer Winblad who has been Kerry's chief Bay Area fundraiser. Kerry, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, was a frequent visitor to Silicon Valley early on in the primary.

This weekend, Asian-American supporters of Kerry will hold house parties around the country to raise money for him, a tactic borrowed from former Democratic contender Howard Dean that President Bush's campaign has also adopted.

Locke said the Kerry campaign decided to launch a national campaign for Asian-American votes in the Bay Area because it is where many national Asian media outlets are located and is the natural place to rally Asians nationwide.

Honda said Asian-Americans could be a big help to Kerry if they rallied for him in other states, such as Washington, where the election is expected to be much closer than it in California. But, he acknowledged, half the 5 million Asian-Americans who are eligible to vote are not registered.



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