May 21, 2022 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Garden Grove Gay Mayor declares run for Congress

Bao Nguyen would be the first out gay immigrant to serve in Congress.
Bao Nguyen would be the first out gay immigrant to serve in Congress.

Gay Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen has jumped into the 2016 race for a southern California congressional seat.

Nguyen, 35, who came out publicly in July, had suggested this summer that he would seek the 46th Congressional District seat in Orange County. The current officeholder, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), is running for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat.

Nguyen made it official October 13 when he announced he had formed a campaign committee and launched his website for the race.

“I’m excited to announce that I will be running for Congress in the place I have always called home. I can’t wait to take my passion, and the passions of so many others around me, to bring reform to Washington, D.C,” stated Nguyen in the news release announcing his candidacy.

Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman is also running for Sanchez’s seat
Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman is also running for Sanchez’s seat

He is one of four out candidates to run for Congress in California. Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman, who is also seeking Sanchez’s congressional seat, came out Wednesday, October 15, in an interview with TheLiberalOC website.

“I felt it was time to tell those closest to me. The support of my family and friends has been overwhelmingly positive and I feel free to be wholly me,” Brandman, 35, told the site.

In a story posted Monday, October 19 by the Orange County Register, Brandman said he decided to talk openly about being gay now that he has been with his boyfriend for six weeks.

“I’ve found personal happiness in my life, and now is the time to share it with my family and friends,” Brandman told the paper. “It’s an entirely personal decision to make this announcement, based upon the circumstances in my life.”

Congressman Mark Takano is seeking a third term for the 41st Congressional District seat;
Congressman Mark Takano is seeking a third term for the 41st Congressional District seat;

Congressman Mark Takano (D-Riverside), who is Japanese-American, is seeking a third two-year term next November in his 41st Congressional District seat. His election in 2012 marked the first time an out person won a seat in Congress from the Golden State and the first time an LGBT person of color served in Congress.

In San Diego gay Marine veteran Jacquie Atkinson, a member of Log Cabin Republicans, is running against Congressman Scott Peters (D-San Diego) for his 52nd Congressional District seat.

Nguyen would be the first out immigrant to serve in Congress. Born in a Thailand refugee camp, where his parents and several of his six siblings had sought refuge after escaping Vietnam, Nguyen came to the U.S. three months later and grew up in southern California. He became a U.S. citizen at the age of 12.

A Democrat, elected mayor last November, Nguyen spoke openly for the first time about being gay at a July forum with Ted Osius , who is also gay and the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam.

Marine vet Jacquie Atkinson is a Republican running against San Diego Democratic Congressman Scott Peters in the 52nd Congressional District.
Marine vet Jacquie Atkinson is a Republican running against San Diego Democratic Congressman Scott Peters in the 52nd Congressional District.

In a phone interview October 16 with the Bay Area Reporter, Nguyen said he has received wide community support since coming out of the closet. He plans to seek the endorsement of both the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and Equality California’s political action committee.

He said he wasn’t surprised by the positive reaction, considering the political makeup of the congressional district, which includes the cities of Santa Ana, Anaheim, and parts of Garden Grove and Orange.

“This is a solidly Democratic district based on the numbers,” said Nguyen, who is an organizer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. “I am not sure if it’s new people moving in or not. But if you look at the numbers, it has been changing more and more Democratic.”

Nguyen speaks English, Spanish, and Vietnamese and is Garden Grove’s first Vietnamese American mayor. Prior to his election, he served, by appointment in 2011, then by election in 2012, as trustee of the Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Education, including a term as vice president.

Nguyen said he decided to run for Congress because many of the issues he cares about, such as immigration reform and education, are impacted by the policies coming out of Washington, D.C. He supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and would push to reduce the cost of college should he be elected.

“A lot of what happens locally is tied to decisions made in Congress. I want to have a positive impact for my community and want to be the representative for this district I call home,” he said.

To date no Republican has announced plans to seek the seat. Three other Democrats are in the race: former state Senators Lou Correa and Joe Dunn, and Pomona resident Heberto Sanchez , a manager with the Los Angeles County Department of Health.

Correa has been aggressively courting donors and supporters, reporting he had raised $179,681 as of September 30 with more than $151,000 in his campaign account. He has lined up endorsements from Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Whittier), the sister of Loretta Sanchez, as well as Congressmen Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands), and Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles).

A day after Nguyen announced his bid for the seat, Correa’s campaign announced gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) had endorsed his candidacy. In the release, which called Leno an “LGBT trailblazer and longtime advocate for equality,” the Bay Area lawmaker was quoted as saying, “The voters of the 46th Congressional District would be fortunate to have Lou Correa fighting for them in our Capitol. Lou’s rare intellect, work ethic, determination and compassion will serve his constituents well. We need Lou’s leadership in Washington.”

While Dunn has yet to report any fundraising, the committee Friends of Joe Dunn for Congress has raised $131,274 to date and reported having $129,777 in the bank.

Brandman has raised more than $91,000 and reported having more than $107,000 in cash on hand as of September 30. Heberto Sanchez reported he had spent the $3,318 he has raised to date.

As the Orange County Register noted in a recent story about the race, the ethnic makeup of the district’s voters favor Correa and Dunn. Latinos account for 42 percent of citizens of voting age in the district, the paper pointed out, while non-Latino whites account for 41 percent.

Asked about the demographics, Nguyen said he has either lived or worked in every city in the district and is not running to represent just one community.

“I am not just reaching out to Vietnamese voters. I am running to represent this entire district,” he said. “I am going to work very hard to earn the trust of the voters in this district regardless of what their racial or ethnic makeup is.”

There is still the chance that Sanchez could opt to seek re-election to her House seat instead of Boxer’s Senate seat. She has until the March 11 filing deadline to decide which race to compete in; as of last week she was trailing state Attorney General Kamala Harris in both polling and fundraising.

But Sanchez was well ahead of the Republicans in the race: Assemblyman Rocky J. Chavez of Oceanside and former state Republican Party chairmen George “Duf” Sundheim and Tom Del Beccaro . Under the state’s top-two primary system, the two candidates with the most votes in the June 2016 primary will advance to the November election, so at this point it is likely it would be Harris and Sanchez.

Nguyen said he couldn’t answer when asked if he knew whether Sanchez would run for the Senate or House next year. Nor would he say if he would drop out of the House race if she sought re-election to her congressional seat.

“I am not going to speculate on Sanchez and if she would run for re-election,” he said.

Nguyen did say he is planning to fundraise throughout California for his race and welcomed anyone interested in serving on a host committee emailing his campaign manager, Soham Pandit, at soham@bao2016.com.

“I think people in this district need reform in Washington. They need a government to listen and put their interest ahead of big corporations,” he said. “I want people to have a government that is on their side. I want to reform how our government works and put it back on the side of the people.”

Matthew S. Bajko is an assistant news editor and the political columnist at the Bay Area Reporter in San Francisco.

Related Posts

Alcohol a Factor in Griffith Park fatal Hit and Run of Senior Gay Cyclist

May 13, 2022

May 13, 2022

77-year-old Andrew Jelmert killed in April 23 hit and run training for AIDS/Lifecycle By Susan Payne The Los Angeles Police...

Kaiser Permanente Hospitals Receive LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader Designation

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

Kaiser Permanente’s 15 hospitals recognized by Humans Rights Campaign  By Susan Payne This year, Kaiser Permanente’s 15 hospitals in southern...

‘Match the Stars’ During MisMatch Game Performance Benefitting the LGBT Center

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

By Susan Payne An unstoppable comedy phenomenon is set to reach a $200,000 goal in money raised for the Los...

Confidential Settlement Made With Many LGBTQ Students at USC Over Alleged Doctor Misconduct

May 5, 2022

May 5, 2022

More than 80 former patients accuse Dr. Dennis Kel of sexual battery, harassment and inappropriate remarks By Susan Payne In...

Audio Meets Reality in ‘Being Trans’ Podcast Series Showcasing the Lives of Four Transgender Individuals of the LA Area

May 5, 2022

May 5, 2022

Through narrative-style storytelling, BEING Studios gives listeners an intimate, first-person access into the worlds of people they may not otherwise...

Orange County Man Faces Federal Charge on Suspicion of Making Anti-LGBT Threats Against Merriam-Webster

April 29, 2022

April 29, 2022

Jeremy Hanson of Rossmore charged in connection to October threats  By Susan Payne  An Orange County man faces a federal...

Palm Springs Approves Universal Income Pilot Program for Transgender, Nonbinary Residents

April 29, 2022

April 29, 2022

Payments to start in 2023 By Susan Payne A guaranteed income pilot program that would provide transgender and nonbinary residents...

Nobel Laureate and Education Activist Malala Yousafzai to Speak in Beverly Hills

April 28, 2022

April 28, 2022

May 15, 2022 at Saban Theatre Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel recipient and activist for education and equality is coming...

Compton Man Arrested for Allegedly Targeting, Robbing 20+ Gay Men He Met on Grindr

April 24, 2022

April 24, 2022

By Susan Payne Authorities have announced the arrest of a Compton man who allegedly targeted and robbed more than 20...

Mars Wright, ProjectQ Mural in Hollywood Illuminates “Trans Joy”

April 24, 2022

April 24, 2022

By Susan Payne A two-building mural in East Hollywood commissioned by nonprofit ProjectQ represents Trans joy designed and painted by...

L.A. County Business to Florida, Texas Banned Amid LGBTQ Policies

April 24, 2022

April 24, 2022

The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors has voted to ban all county travel to Florida and Texas due to policies...

Superior Court Rules Diverse Company Board Laws Unconstitutional

April 8, 2022

April 8, 2022

On the first of April, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled the law which requires California-based or headquartered...

Models of Pride Festival Returns in Person, Online

April 8, 2022

April 8, 2022

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Mayhem Miller glanced at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Models of Pride Festival crowd, ready to...

Anti-LGBTQ+ Attack in Pasadena Sparks Active Hate Crime Investigation

April 8, 2022

April 8, 2022

By Susan Payne The Pasadena Police Department needs public assistance in finding the individuals responsible for attacking three Ixtapa Cantina...