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California Republican and political newcomer Quang Pham is getting a lot of voter and media attention after his recent announcement that he is running for the U.S. Congress. Pham, a Vietnamese American, hopes to unseat a popular Democratic incumbent of Hispanic heritage in the 47th congressional district near Los Angeles in the 2010 election.
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If successful, Pham would join Louisiana Congressman Joseph Cao, who was elected in 2008 to become the first Vietnamese American to serve in Congress. Cao, also a Republican, defeated a black, nine-term Democratic representative in the mostly African American and heavily-Democratic New Orleans-area district.
After his election, Cao expressed hope "that many of our young people will consider being more politically active and being move involved in the community. Because as you can see, really anything can happen."
Other successful Vietnamese Americans who have had an impact on the political scene include attorney Viet Dinh, who was the principal architect of the Patriot Act enacted in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks. It eases restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States.
Wendy Duong is the first Vietnamese American to be appointed as a judge in the United States. Tony Lam won a seat on the Westminster, California, city council in 1992, becoming the first person born in Vietnam to be elected to a political office in the United States. Westminster has one of the largest concentrations of Vietnamese immigrants in the United States.
Vietnamese Americans are part of a community, writes Andrew Lam, that has moved from an initial survival stage to a sophisticated and expressive one. The Vietnamese American journalist, who edits the California-based Pacific News Service, says Vietnamese Americans have become increasingly politically active.