By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE and ALFRED GABOT
Managing Editor and Editor in Chief
SACRAMENTO/NEW YORK – After surviving a recall election in flying colors, California Governor Gavin Newsom again easily coasted to victory for another full term in the just concluded midterm election garnering 58 percent of the votes as against his Republican rival Brian Dahle’s 42 percent.
In the same California election, Senator Alex Padilla made history by becoming the first Latino from the golden state to win a seat for the US Senate, continuing his short stint since he was appointed to the post by Governor Newsom to fill the vacancy left by US Senator, now Vice President, Kamala Harris.
Padilla, 49,defeated GOP attorney Mark Meuser to win a term to complete the term up to January 3 of VP Kamala Harris and thereafter for a full six-year term of his own. He snatched 62 percent of the votes as against Meuser’s 38 percencent
At his victory party at the Hollywood Palladium, Padilla pledged to prioritize job creation, climate change, immigration reform, reproductive rights and the protection of Social Security and Medicare and defense against threats to democracy.
Filipino American lawyer Rob Bonta, another appointee of Governor Newsom to the post of Attorney General of the state out of the California State Assembly, easily disposed of his rival in the polls to claim a full term as Attorney General. His wife, Mia, was reelected to the California State Assembly.
Meanwhile, 11 Filipinos won or reelected in the Hawaii elections, five of them as State Senators and another five as State Representatives. (See related stories.)
A Filipino American from Queens, Steven Raga, scored a milestone by becoming the first Filipino to win a seat in the State Assembly of New York.
In Los Angeles, Filipino American accountant Kenneth Mejia also made history by winning the election for Los Angeles City controller, becoming the first FilAm to occupy a high post in the city.
Mejia, a 32-year-old accountant and leftist community activist, declared victory over three-term councilmember Paul Koretz at the midterm elections on Nov. 8.
Mejia held a 21-point lead over Koretz and captured 60.92 percent of the votes. His win also marks the first certified public accountant and the first person of color to hold the city controller’s office in more than a century.
In Milpitas, lawyer Garry Barbadillo became the second FilAm to gain a seat in the City Council after Evelyn Quevedo Chua, as the city elected a new mayor to replace Vietnamese-American Richard Tranh whose term has expired.
Elsewhere in California and other states, more Filipinos either were reelected or elected to various posts. Some Filipinos, however, failed in their bids for some positions.
Just like in Hawaii, many Filipinos have been elected as mayor and to other posts in California, the US state with the second biggest population of Filipinos and Filipino Americans.
Close to Filipinos, Governor Newsom, who has a doctorate in public management from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), thanked his supporters, leaders and all voters during a Sacramento victory party.
In a brief remarks in which he also acknowledged the approval of the abortion rights initiative Proposition 1, Newsom said he wanted to be a unifier in his second term.
“The dream is predicated on all of us living and advancing together across every conceivable difference,” Newsom said in a statement. “We all have a responsibility to do a little bit more to meet people where they are.”
In New York, Raga won the seat for District 30 in Queens, roundly defeating Republican challenger Sean Lally in the 2022 midterm elections with 58 percent of the vote.
Raga immediately thanked his supporters via Instagram.
“We are on the edge of history, and as a kid from Queens who grew up with a single mother, working three jobs while pursuing my education, the overwhelming support from all corners of the district means a lot to me,” he said.
Bonta faced Republican Nathan Hochman, a former federal prosecutor, in a campaign which focused on California’s crime rate.
Bonta delivered his remarks after his victory in the polls was confirmed. The message follows:
“Friends, supporters, fellow Californians — I am so humbled and deeply honored by this vote of confidence voters have delivered at the ballot box.
Tonight’s returns reflect our results:
Results for Public Safety: Seizing thousands of illegal guns off our streets… dismantling organized criminal street gangs… taking down human traffickers…
Results for Freedom: Fighting abortion bans in courts… sponsoring groundbreaking legislation to protect reproductive rights… standing up to Republican attacks on our trans youth…
Results for Working Families: Suing the largest corporations in the world for cheating us… harming our children… and poisoning our air and water…
No Department of Justice in the nation is doing more to stand up for you. No Attorney General is doing more to stand up to the far-right attacks on your freedoms.
But our work isn’t done. Tonight’s national election proves it.
Voter intimidation. Court-packing. Gerrymandering. Trump’s legacy of lawlessness. These assaults on our democracy have left a wound that continues to deepen.
What is next for our nation remains unknown, but what is known is that no matter what happens in Washington DC…. No matter what radical Republicans try to throw our way in state houses… your Attorney General will go to court, sue, and fight back!
With the resounding mandate Californians send tonight in this race…. On Prop 1…. Across the ballot from the Governor on down… we remain the bright light for America. And we’re going to spread our light across the nation.
That’s the California way. We are a place of hope, freedom, and opportunity for all who seek it. And as your Attorney General — with you and the people of California by my side — I will always defend and fight for our way of life. For each of you.
Thank you. I am so honored and humbled.”