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‘The Vietnamese Are Coming!’: An Interview with California Congressional District 47’s Van Tran

Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez used Spanish-language TV to play the race card against her Republican challenger, Van Tran. Tim Daniel interviews Tran about Sanchez's actions and where the campaign stands now.

by
Tim Daniel

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September 28, 2010 - 2:06 pm
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Encompassing Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Anaheim, and a sliver of Fullerton, California’s 47th Congressional District has retained an on-again, off-again relationship with the national spotlight.

In 1996, stalwart-conservative, nine-term Congressman “B-1 Bob” Dornan lost the 46th District (currently redistricted to CD-47) seat to Democrat Loretta Sanchez. Sanchez, just two years previous, had been elected to the Anaheim City Council as Loretta Brixey. She changed her married name back to her maiden name Sanchez in 1996, a less-than-subtle effort to solicit votes from the area’s burgeoning Hispanic population.

The effort garnered a “win” by 984 votes in ‘96 (of which a majority were found to be cast by illegal immigrants) and put the once obscure district into varying degrees of controversial flux.

Even so, earlier this week, CD-47’s reputation for disputation went parabolic.

Why?

Details lie in a  series of comments made by now six-term Democratic incumbent Loretta Sanchez to the Spanish-only network Univision. Sanchez tossed a rhetorical grenade into the campaign that fragmented across California. Or blew up in her face.

Congresswoman Sanchez thus made several shocking admissions.

A viral YouTube video flickered across screens, showing Sanchez saying that “the Vietnamese and the Republicans are trying to take away this seat from us” and slamming her insurgent Vietnamese-American Republican opponent as “anti-Hispanic.”

Sanchez’s racially tinged twist of Paul Revere’s “the British are coming” came where she evidently thought she was under the radar, on the Spanish-language station. Calculated to miss audiences outside the Spanish audience, it revealed the dark underbelly of a desperate candidate grasping for any justification for re-election. Even she realizes that her lack of accomplishments doesn’t suffice.

As Team Sanchez scrambled to contain the damage from her incredible comments last week, the dynamics of the 47th Congressional District race subsequently changed in a California-minute. A hot topic on conservative talk radio, blogs, and headlines across the nation, the story steamed ahead to an audience from the left to right coast. Dead tree sources such as the Los Angeles Times covered the story typically (for anyone who knows the paper’s institutionalized bias), downplaying the racist flavor of Sanchez’s comments.

One can look no further than recent internal polling from the Van Tran camp last month to substantiate just why the seventh re-election bid for Loretta Sanchez has taken such a bizarre turn.

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