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Asian Law Journal


This is an exploratory study of the impact of Latino and Asian American elected officials on their respective groups' political incorporation. The authors argue that Latino and Asian American elected officials' paths to elected office do not always fit the biracial coalition model of political incorporation for minorities, and instead suggest a reconstructed model to explain the distinctive character of Latino and Asian American group efforts toward political representation. The results of this paper are based on information gathered from two nationwide mail surveys of Latino elected officials (LEOs) and Asian American elected officials (AAEOs). The 2000 National Asian American and Latino Elected Officials Survey was conducted in Fall 2000 with interviews of elected officials held in 2001. The 1999 National Asian American Elected Officials Survey was conducted in May 1999 with interviews of elected officials held throughout 2000. This paper focuses on analyzing the means by which Latinos and Asian Americans have achieved political power, their sources of community support, and the resources they needed to successfully win office. It also examines current Latinalo and Asian American office-holders and explores whether they direct policy benefits to their respective communities. The results of these surveys indicate that Latino and Asian American politicians are on average older, more financially secure, and better educated than their respective general populations. They also are more liberal ideologically than the general populations. The analysis further reveals that the percentage of ethnic population is a stronger determinant for the election of Latino politicians than for Asian American politicians. A significant number of LEOs aim their policies to benefit primarily the Latino community, whereas AAEOs focus on broader community issues due to their districts' demographics. Ethnicity, however, can play a significant role for AAEOs, particularly in raising campaign contributions from their communities. This paper concludes that despite internal heterogeneity and structural barriers that have limited both groups' political advancement, Latino and Asian American political activists are using a variety of methods to achieve political incorporation and policy responsiveness at the local and state levels.


Berkeley Law Scholarship Repository © 2002. Reprinted with permission.



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