Unless You're A Bankster You've Probably Never Heard Of Ed Royce (R-CA), But We Have An Opportunity To End His Disgraceful Career Now
It’s a great year for California Congressional races. When Californians voted to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and placed it in the hands of a nonpartisan citizens commission, the Democratic Party squealed bloody murder. But the commission did what the Democratic establishment couldn’t do themselves: put several new seats in play based on demographics, not politics. One of these seats is Southern California’s 39th District, where businessman, school board member and Navy Reserve intelligence officer Jay Chen now has an excellent opportunity to retire Ed Royce, one of the worst of the faux-teabagger bunch.
Royce has long been Wall Street’s lapdog and has collected millions from the financial services and insurance industries he passionately deregulates. In fact, no California Representative has received more campaign contributions from the financial services industry than Royce, and bankers are getting what they paid for. Royce was Sarah Palin’s choice for Chair of the House Financial Services committee, and as a ranking member, he championed the deregulation and risk-taking that allowed bankers to plunge our country into the Second Great Depression. Even with egg still fresh on his face, he voted against regulating the subprime mortgage industry, voted against taxing the bonuses of TARP recipients, and he still opposes the Volcker rule despite J.P. Morgan’s $2 billion debacle.
Who got the biggest payoffs from the banksters for working to weaken the Volcker Rule?
Luckily for us, redistricting has put Royce in a precarious position, and Democrat Jay Chen is incredibly positioned to give him a final push into obscurity. While Royce used to represent the deepest, reddest portions of Orange County, his district has now shifted north to span Democratic Los Angeles County and San Bernardino. Only 30% of his old district is in the new one, and the district has become majority minority, with 60% of the population being Asian and Latino. While there is still a Republican registration advantage, it is mitigated by the fact that Asians are swing voters and Asian Republicans will vote for a qualified Asian Democrat over a Tea Party Republican who advocates English-only and once called multiculturalism “odious” at an anti-Muslim hate rally. Did I mention that he also voted against the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and wants to overturn the 14th Amendment?
Ed Royce knows he is vulnerable as well, which is why he has gone full force in the Chinese-language press (ironic, since he supports English-only) to soften his anti-immigrant image and backpedal his extremist rhetoric. According to the most recent FEC reports, Royce has already spent over $2,000,000 in this cycle (the second-most in California behind Republican Kevin McCarthy), and he has conducted his own poll. Not exactly the actions of a confident incumbent. We wonder what his polling revealed.
It probably said the same thing that Jay Chen’s poll said: we could see a momentous flip of this seat in 2012. Jay is the perfect candidate for this swing seat. He was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to immigrant parents from Taiwan. He speaks fluent Mandarin and Spanish and went to public schools in Hacienda Heights before attending Harvard University. After Harvard he worked in management consulting (yes, at Bain Consulting!), then started his own real estate business in Los Angeles.
Five years ago he decided to run for a seat on his local school board, in the same district that he graduated from. He won with the top vote and since then has implemented some remarkable new ideas, including free SAT classes, free college application workshops, edible school gardens, and Mandarin language immersion classes. Test scores have gone up each year, and his district is one of the few in California that has not furloughed or laid off any K-12 teaching staff. As if he wasn’t busy enough, he also earned a direct commission as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Republicans will respond well to Jay’s business experience (some Republican standard-bearers have worked at the same firm) and Navy background. Democrats can rest assured that he is as progressive as they come, having won Democrat of the Year in 2011 for his Assembly District and having served as a delegate for President Obama in 2008. Jay also organized over 100 Californians to campaign for Obama in the swing state of Nevada and was a visible and vocal opponent of California’s bigoted Proposition 8. Independents will appreciate the success he has achieved on his local school board. And practically everyone will cheer the fact that this isn’t the first time that Jay has taken on the Tea Party.
Two years ago when Jay voted for the Mandarin language immersion program, the local wingnuts went ballistic, claiming that teaching Chinese meant you were teaching Communism. Hilarity ensued, with Jay being labeled a “Communist Emperor” and facing a recall over his attempt to “brainwash” local children into becoming slaves for the Chinese government. The Daily Show captured the non-controversy perfectly in its segment "Socialism Studies," and Jay remains one of the few elected officials to appear on The Daily Show and not get shredded to bits. For that reason alone he deserves our support!
Jay’s priorities for Congress include modernizing elementary and middle school curriculum with computer science and engineering classes, making higher education more affordable, and creating a green economy that creates new manufacturing jobs and makes us energy-independent. He will also protect our promises to veterans and retirees, and ensure that women control their bodies, not politicians. We think Jay is right for the 39th District and right for America. To quote Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, “Jay Chen is a rising star in the Democratic Party and represents the next generation of leadership our country needs."
This is a winnable race, but the DCCC establishment is naturally too busy to notice. President Obama won 49% of this district in 2008 and Republicans have only become more unpopular since then. Jay’s trilingual ability will allow him to reach voters who have been ignored until now. And Royce’s own actions and spending indicate that he knows his number could be up. Jay has raised a sizable $400,000 so far, but he’ll need more to fight the next Republican Chair of the House Financial Services Committee. Every contribution you make will shake this race up even more. Let’s get things stirring here on our ActBlue page.