When Clackamas County finished counting votes on Nov. 18, Hoa Nguyen, the Democratic nominee in House District 48 (parts of Southeast Portland, Sandy and Damascus) could finally celebrate her victory over Republican John Masterman.
Nguyen defeated Masterman by 2.8%, a difference of 657 votes. Her victory made it a clean sweep for the five Vietnamese Americans (all Democrats) seeking House seats on Nov. 8.
As WW reported earlier this year, the election held out the promise that Oregon would have the nation’s largest group of Vietnamese American lawmakers in the country.
Related: In a First for the Nation, Five Vietnamese American Candidates Are Bound for the Oregon Legislature.
Last week, it happened.
The newly elected representatives are Dr. Hai Pham, a Hillsboro dentist; Dr. Thuy Tran, a Northeast Portland optometrist; Hoa Nguyen, a Portland Public Schools attendance officer; and Daniel Nguyen, a Lake Oswego restaurateur. Hoa Nguyen is also an elected member of the David Douglas School District and Daniel Nguyen is a Lake Oswego city councilor.
The four newcomers will join state Rep. Khanh Pham (D-Southeast Portland), who won election in 2020, in the House Democratic caucus in January.
“It’s a testament to the resilience of refugees and their children, as well as an inspiring story of the evolving meaning of what it means to be American,” Khanh Pham says of the election results. “I hope that this inspires other potential candidates who come from historically underrepresented groups to consider running, and to recruit others.”
She added that it would a mistake over-generalize about the five. “Each of us have very different backgrounds—from business, to healthcare to education, and climate justice,” Khanh Pham says. “Our election wins demonstrate that Vietnamese people (as with other communities of color) are not a monolith, and cannot be reduced to a simplistic or narrow agendas. We are as broad, diverse, and complicated as any other community.”
On Nov. 16, after it became clear she had won, Hoa Nguyen issued a statement about the historical nature of the win for all five candidates.
“I am so proud to join Representatives Khanh Pham, Dr. Thuy Tran, Daniel Nguyen, and Dr. Hai Pham at the state Legislature, making Oregon the state with the largest Vietnamese American representation in the country,” Nguyen said. “This is meaningful not only for Vietnamese Oregonians, but all Oregonians because when we have diverse representation, we do a better job of solving problems for our whole community.”