Oct. 30

Capping our day of entertainment-themed weirdness (East Coast looks like "The Day After Tomorrow"! Disney buys Lucasfilm, will make "Star Wars Ep. VII"! ABC to make Oakland "City Hall" drama!) is this tidbit: singer and artist MC Hammer (nee Stanley Burrell) will help lead an event on Monday in Stockton in support of Rep. Jerry McNerney and Stockton City Council candidate Michael Tubbs.

Hammer, 50, lives in Tracy, which actually is just outside the 9th Congressional District in which McNerney, D-Stockton, is seeking re-election.

As when Hammer lent his skills to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's campaign, this raises some questions: Is McNerney actually too legit to quit? Can Ricky Gill not touch this? Which candidate needs to pray just to make it Tuesday?

We'll know soon enough.

Nov. 2

If Rep. Michael Honda cruises to re-election in the 17th Congressional District over his barely-known Republican challenger as is widely expected, he'll be representing the continental United States' first House district to have an Asian-American-Pacific Islander majority (51.55 percent).

But with so diverse an Asian population as well as a significant Latino population (17.46 percent), Honda is going to unprecedented lengths to reach out to all voters in this South Bay district, which includes Santa Clara County west of San Jose and the cities of Los Gatos and Cupertino. By Tuesday's election, his campaign will have connected with voters in more than a dozen languages: English, Arabic, Cantonese, Dari, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Hindi, Pashto, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, Telugu, Thai, Urdu and Vietnamese.


Advertisement

For both the primary and general election campaigns, Honda filed a ballot statement in both Alameda and Santa Clara counties in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Tagalog. But even before the primary, his campaign had reached out by phone to nearly 30,000 households with the option for recipients to take the call in Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese and English.

This yielded volunteers who worked on the Honda campaign's banks using those languages and others, including Dutch, German, Cantonese and Japanese. For the primary, these phone banks reached about 3,000 voters live; in this general election, Honda has added several more languages to round out the list. The linguistic targeting is based on the voter's place of birth, gleaned from his or her voter registration; the voter's preferred ballot language; and/or the voter's probable ethnicity based on his or her surname.

"We can't treat the AAPI population like it's a monolithic group," Honda said. "There's a great deal of linguistic, ethnic and religious diversity among AAPIs. Furthermore, our AAPI diasporas are here in the U.S. for a variety of reasons: political, economic, entrepreneurial and educational, to name a few."

People of all nationalities and languages "deserve to be approached and heard in their home languages whenever possible, because the conversation that results is fuller and richer, and you tend to hear things that otherwise might not be said in English," he added. "Our campaign capitalizes on the multilingualism of our volunteers. Their talents allow us to engage individual voters in a way both the volunteers and voters appreciate."

As I wrote back in July, the nation's rapidly expanding AAPI population already is becoming crucial swing votes in some battleground states, and could be the sort of decisive voting bloc in many future races that Latinos already are today -- but only if the parties recognize the AAPI community's diversity and actively reaches out to them. Honda is positioning himself at the forefront of this; who else will follow?

This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.