The Identity Card

Voting by race has made the city's political representation more Asian. It could be what puts 33-year-old Jane Kim on the board of supervisors.

Kim not winning endorsements from the city's Democratic establishment — which, indeed, is backing Walker and Sparks — "stifles that movement" and adds to burgeoning Asian resentment, according to Fong. "It's not about Jane Kim; that's what people don't understand," he adds. If the Democratic establishment "stifles Jane, they don't know what they're stifling."

As long as there is any advantage among Asians to be had, savvy politicians will take it. "Growing up, I never thought that being Chinese-American could be an advantage," Ting says, but if either he or Yee runs for mayor unopposed by the other, they will campaign hard to win Chinese voters. If they run against one another, they'll work hard to split the base and then take the LGBT base from Bevan Dufty and the Latino base from Dennis Herrera. Ethnic voting would not be their sole strategy, but it's a part of a winning playbook they'd be silly to omit. So, too, with Kim.

Jane Kim is painting the town red.
Joseph Schell
Jane Kim is painting the town red.
Board president David Chiu made sure to tell Cantonese-language reporters, “All the Asian leaders who support me are supporting Jane.”
Joseph Schell
Board president David Chiu made sure to tell Cantonese-language reporters, “All the Asian leaders who support me are supporting Jane.”

"A lot of Asian-Americans may not come out to vote in District 6," Kim says, "but if they're excited about the work I've done, they may take that extra time to come out and vote for me. I would not have that if I wasn't Asian. I just wouldn't."

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