Asian-Americans may be key to turning Virginia blue in November

As the largest minority in Fairfax County, Asian-Americans are a major focus of outreach activity for the local Democratic Party, which faces a critical election on Nov. 5 to determine the control of the state assembly.

Today Republicans hold one-vote majorities in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly and the Democrats are mounting a major effort here in northern Virginia, the most populous region of the state, to turn the legislature blue – as well as increase the control of Democrats over Fairfax County government.

Asian-Americans are a key factor in their campaign.

Residents of Asian origin are the leading minority in Fairfax County, with 20%  of the 1.2 million total inhabitants, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Following them are residents of Hispanic origin, with 16% of the total, and African-Americans, with 11%.

Asian-Americans voted heavily for Democrat Ralph Northam for governor in 2017, with 83% in favor, according to an exit poll.  But local elections like the one in November usually generate low turnout among all groups. 

That is why more than a dozen Democratic office holders and candidates were on display at last month’s Vietnamese Heritage Festival, or VietFest. Among the entertainers, artisans and vendors Aug. 10-11 at the event held outdoors at Tyson’s corner Plaza was a booth sponsored by Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) and Democratic Asian Americans of Virginia (DAAV).

Both at the booth and on the festival stage Democratic officials and hopefuls campaigned vigorously.

Leading the pack was Rep. Jennifer Wexton (10th Cong. Dist.), and also taking part at various times during the festival were two state senators – Chap Petersen (34th) and Barbara Favola (31th), three state delegates – Mark Keam (35th), Karrie Delaney (67th) and Kathleen Murphy (34th), two county supervisors – Jeff McKay (Lee dist., running for chair), and John Foust (Dranesville), two school board members—Karen Keys-Gamarra (at large) and Dalia Palchik (Providence Dist., running for supervisor), and Sheriff Stacey Kincaid.

Manning the Dems’ booth at VietFest are, L-R, Rose Chu, Karen Keys-Gamarra, 11th Cong. Dist. Chair Bob Haley, and Todd Thurwachter

Three candidates – Dan Helmer (delegate, dist.  40), Karl Frisch (school board, Providence) and Rachna Sizemore Heizer (school board, at large) – rounded out the crew.

Over a dozen volunteers engaged voters, handing out multi-lingual sample ballots and almost 800 “blue wave slips”  alerting voters to the Nov 5th election, which many were unaware of. The blue slips urge voters to visit as the quickest, easiest way to manage all their voting needs and to vote early (an estimated 80% of Fairfax voters qualify).

Volunteers featured the sign “In 2017, 83% of VA’s Asian-Americans voted Democrat” on the back of their clipboards, ensuring that all fairgoers saw it several times.

Rose Chu, an active member of both FCDC and DAAV, organized the Democrats’ booth at the festival, which was their sixth annual appearance at VietFest. Ms. Chu also has organized a joint FCDC/DAAV booth for eight years at the Korus Korean Festival, as well as activities at other area festivals.

For more information on upcoming events to engage Asian-Americans as well as phone banking in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and other languages, please contact Ms. Chu:,  (703) 371-0023.

Main photo: VietFest attracted many officials. L-R: Jalmeen Soni, Rep. Jennifer Weston, unidentified, Fairfax Sup.  John Foust, Del.Kathleen Murphy, Rose Chu, VietFest Chair Nicholas Lepham, and DAAV President Dewita Soeharjono