It's been a wild few years for Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen. In nearly less time than it takes for a kid to learn how to talk, Nguyen's won a mayoral election as an underdog (by something in the neighborhood of 14 votes, no less), been accused of being a communist a couple dozen times, screamed at, slandered and seen his opponents try to pin scandal after scandal on him. So yesterday at noon, as Nguyen stood in front of a handful of supporters and before a small gaggle of media members preparing to announce his run for Congress, it was a pretty low-key day for him. Never mind the important lunch meeting to rush to and a city council meeting later that day, to boot.
But this wasn't a casual beer and schmooze at the Copper Door type of deal. Nguyen, wearing a full suit complete with American and South Vietnamese flag pin, stood in front of the Orange County Bar Foundation's Downtown Santa Ana office sweating as the early afternoon sun broke through some scant trees.
"I'm here today to announce my candidacy, to be the Representative in Congress for California's 46th district," he said.
He joins former dtate denators Joe Dunn and Lou Correa and Anaheim City Councilmember Jordan Brandman (all Democrats) in a now four-way race to represent the Democrat-heavy district. The four are vying for the top two spots in next June's primary election. In November, voters will choose which of the winning two will replace Loretta Sanchez.
Nguyen continued on, talking about his path to the country (born in a refugee camp, parents leaving Vietnam when his mother was 8 months pregnant), his main policy points (illegal surveillance is bad, immigration needs reform, women's health is good), and his desire for reform.
"The people want immigration reform, but it doesn't happen. The people want to protect women's health care, but it's attacked at every turn. The people want better schools, that lead to better jobs, and a better life for all, but all too often, it doesn't happen," he said. "The people want an economy that works for the families of this district, not just for the wealthy and the well connected. That's wrong, and that's why we have to reform Washington."
And, ending with small sections in Spanish and Vietnamese as well as a "if we want immigration reform, if we want to protect women's health, if we want better education, and more and better jobs, we must win," Nguyen stepped from behind his podium to address the three Little Saigon outlets, the Register, and the Weekly. Behind him, his most trusted supporters started talking among themselves, nearly all of them excited hopeful.
Before long, Nguyen was already late to his lunch meeting, spending extra time with one of the Vietnamese language publications before rushing off. The next major milestone? The LULAC and NAACP joint debate this Saturday, featuring all the declared candidates.
It's going to be a long election.