With two veteran Hmong lawmakers stepping down this year and no Hmong candidates advancing in last week’s primary election, next year’s Legislature will be the first in many years to have no Hmong members.
Sen. Mee Moua and Rep. Cy Thao, both DFLers from St. Paul, won’t be back, notes MPR’s Laura Yuen, and four Hmong candidates were unsuccessful in the DFL primary for the District 67 Senate seat.
And she notes: “Some political watchers predict it could be a while before the next Hmong-American is elected to the Legislature.”
Former St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington won the Senate primary with 31 percent of the vote, while the four Hmong candidates in the field of nine together garnered 42 percent.
Tou Ger Xiong, who is active in DFL circles, tells her the results might have been different had one Hmong candidate been supported by the community. Xiong said Harrington didn’t have to campaign as hard as the others:
“I didn’t think he did much. Strategically speaking, if I were him, I wouldn’t do anything, either. I mean, I’m running against four Hmong candidates who are going to take each other’s votes,” Xiong said. “So I don’t think John Harrington won the primary. I think we, as the Hmong community, lost.”
But Xiong and Pakou Hang say that four Hmong candidates in the race shows the Hmong community is fully engaged in local politics, having been inspired by the success of Moua and Thao.
However, there’s some concern that there won’t be many openings in the heavily DFL district on St. Paul’s East Side in the near future, with Harrington considered likely to win the Senate general election, as is Rena Moran, who won the DFL primary for Thao’s state House seat.