Last week I co-hosted a fundraiser for Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi. The list of other hosts included the “usual suspects” who in the Japanese American community have been staunch and valued supporters of JA elected officials.

During my tenure in several political offices I could count on the support of these individuals and was very appreciative of it. I would list their names but would inevitably miss someone and suspect they’d prefer their anonymity when it comes to political giving. Let me just say thanks and do so on behalf of the many JAs who have run, been elected and will run in the future.

Speaking of the future, in this case the immediate future, supporting Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi’s re-election is critical for the JA community. Currently, in the California Legislature there are only two Japanese Americans, Mariko Yamada and Al. By the end of this next election cycle (2014), Mariko will be termed out and Al will be the only JA legislator left standing.

Fortunately, he can serve another ten years because of the recent change in the term limits law. But unfortunately, because he represents a “swing district” (even party registration), the opposing party will always field a well-funded candidate to challenge Al.

This upcoming re-election will be even more acute in this regard because of several political factors:

One, the Republicans in the State Legislature are in the minority and in fact the Democrats have a super majority (two-thirds) in both the Assembly and State Senate. Consequently, the Republicans desperately want to change this situation. This means they are going to aggressively challenge Democrats in “swing districts” where Republicans can possibly win.

Two, this time around it can be safely assumed that the candidate running against Al will not be a fringe Tea Party candidate like last time. He or she will be a moderate who better reflects the politics of Al’s district and is much more electable.

Three, as Al shared at the fundraiser, the Republicans don’t have a credible candidate to run against Gov. Brown; consequently they will double down on the Assembly campaigns and intensely focus on winnable legislative seats like the one that Al represents.

So, if the JA community wants someone who personally understands our community and will advocate on our behalf when we need it (would things have been different if we had a JA in the State Legislature when WWII started?), we’d better join the before-referenced “usual suspects” and support Al’s re-election with donations (donate on Al’s webpage, any amount helps) and just as importantly by volunteering for his campaign.

An aside, relative to JA elected officials, it’s great to see that James Toma got elected to the West Covina City Council and I wish him well.

Warren Furutani has served as a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, and the California State Assembly. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

Above and below: Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) with supporters at a campaign fundraiser held at the JACCC on Dec. 3. (JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)
Above and below: Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) with supporters at a campaign fundraiser held at the JACCC on Dec. 3. (JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)



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