Demo­crat’s GOP foe calls her com­ments about the Viet­namese a ‘racial ram­page.’

Los Angeles Times - - Latextra - My-Thuan Tran

Demo­cratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez found her­self in hot wa­ter this week af­ter she said in a Span­ish-lan­guage in­ter­view that “the Viet­namese” and Repub­li­cans were try­ing to take con­trol of her seat.

Sanchez, who is up for re­elec­tion, was put on the de­fen­sive af­ter her main op­po­nent, Assem­bly­man Van Tran (R-Gar­den Grove), a Viet­namese Amer­i­can, jumped on the is­sue and called her state­ments “of­fen­sive” and “di­vi­sive.”

The tiff high­lights the po­lit­i­cal di­chotomy of cen­tral Orange County, where two big vot­ing blocs are Lati­nos and Viet­namese.

In an in­ter­view last week on Univi­sion, a Span­ish-lan­guage tele­vi­sion net­work that broad­casts na­tion­ally, Sanchez said in Span­ish: “The Viet­namese and the Repub­li­cans are — with in­ten­sity — try­ing to take away this seat, this seat for which we have al­ready done so much for our com­mu­nity. [Tak­ing] this seat from us and [giv­ing] it to this Van Tran, who’s very anti-im­mi­grant and very anti-His-



Her cam­paign re­leased a state­ment say­ing Sanchez was re­fer­ring to “those in the Viet­namese com­mu­nity who are sup­port­ing her op­po­nent.”

Sanchez has worked for years to shore up sup­port from Viet­namese Amer­i­cans, who make up a siz­able por­tion of her con­stituents. She at­tends Viet­namese fes­ti­vals wear­ing tra­di­tional ao

dai tu­nics and is out­spo­ken about hu­man rights abuses and po­lit­i­cal free­dom in Viet­nam, is­sues dear to the hearts of Viet­namese Amer­i­cans in Lit­tle Saigon.

Such po­si­tions have earned the Demo­cratic con­gress­woman sup­port from many Viet­namese Amer­i­cans, who are tra­di­tion­ally right-lean­ing.

Sanchez is in her tough­est re­elec­tion race in years against Tran, the high­es­trank­ing Viet­namese Amer­i­can politician in Cal­i­for­nia and some­what of a king­maker in Lit­tle Saigon.

Tran said he be­lieves her state­ments will dam­age her stand­ing in the Viet­namese com­mu­nity. In an in­ter­view, he char­ac­ter­ized Sanchez’s re­marks as a “racial ram­page.”

“This is a mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tion that there is an al­leged wedge be­tween the Viet­namese and Latino com­mu­nity,” he said.

Tran wrote a let­ter to Sanchez’s of­fice ask­ing for an apol­ogy for her com­ments. “With such a di­verse im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tion that call cen­tral Orange County home, you should know bet­ter than stok­ing the flames of racial di­vi­sion in our com­mu­nity,” he wrote.

The 47th Con­gres­sional District, which en­com­passes parts of Santa Ana, Gar­den Grove and Ana­heim, has the only House seat held by a Demo­crat in Orange County. Sanchez has been in the post since 1997.

About 44% of vot­ers in the district are Latino, and 18% are Asian, mostly Viet­namese, ac­cord­ing to the Cal­i­for­nia Tar­get Book, a non­par­ti­san ref­er­ence work that tracks leg­isla­tive and con­gres­sional races.

It re­mains to be seen what the re­ac­tion to Sanchez’s state­ments will be in the Viet­namese com­mu­nity. The re­marks were high­lighted on sev­eral con­ser­va­tive blogs, but news of them has taken longer to reach Lit­tle Saigon.

Tran at­tributes this to the state­ments’ be­ing some­what lost in trans­la­tion, hav­ing to be trans­lated first from Span­ish to English, and then to Viet­namese. On Fri­day, an ar­ti­cle in the largest Viet­namese lan­guage news­pa­per, Nguoi Viet, re­ported the con­tro­versy.

This is not the first time a cam­paign for this con­gres­sional seat has seen con­tro­versy along racial lines. Just weeks be­fore the 2006 elec­tion, Repub­li­can can­di­date Tan Nguyen’s staff sent letters to 14,000 vot­ers with Span­ish sur­names say­ing im­mi­grants were not al­lowed to vote and warn­ing them of le­gal con­se­quences if they did.

CONGRESS: Rep. Loretta Sanchez is bat­tling to re­tain her seat.

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