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Asian-Americans take higher profile in congressional races

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Most are running as Democrats, and though Republicans will likely retain their House majority, the victories of several Asian-Americans could give the minority party a leg up, Mr. Wasserman says. He points to districts like Illinois 8th, where Tammy Duckworth is running, and California’s 7th, where Ami Bera is running, as key opportunities for Democrats to seize.

“Asian-American candidates certainly are critical for Democratic hopes of gaining seats,” he said.

For the past three-to-four decades, Asian-Americans have increasingly participated in both the Democrat and Republican parties, says Don Nakanishi, director of the Asian American Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. Population growth, opportunities opened by civil rights movements, and the election of other racial minorities are driving forces behind the shift,  he says.

Mr. Nakanishi, who founded the National Asian Pacific American Political Almanac, says that last year’s edition included more than 3,000 elected and major appointed Asian-American officials serving at the state and federal level. The first almanac printed in 1976, he says, largely contained candidates from West Coast states and had a page count so small it could be easily stapled.

This political activism also reflects increased professional success in fields like medicine and academia, says Manan Trivedi, an Indian-American and a Democrat, running for the first time in Pennsylvania’s 6th district.

“It makes sense that the next step is to get involved in policy and politics,” Mr. Trivedi said, in a phone interview. “That’s where the rubber meets the road.”

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