New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim pulled it off. The incumbent in the race for the 40th State Assembly District, which encompasses Flushing, College Point, Whitestone, and Murray Hill communities, won the primary election on June 28, defeating political hopeful Kenneth Chiu by a small six percent margin—receiving only 221 votes more than his opponent according to unofficial tallies from the State Board of Elections.
“It’s hard to earn the trust of marginalized Asian working people who feel unsafe and insecure. Still, for the first time in Flushing history, we achieved this by winning an election centered around worker rights for home care attendants,” Kim said via Twitter following the results. “We won at a time when Asians feel most vulnerable by talking about the ongoing racial and gender violence against Asian immigrant women. From evictions to stolen wages, we centered everything around their pains and voters responded.”
Kim became the first Korean-American elected to the state legislature in 2012, filling the seat vacated by future Congresswoman Grace Meng, which he has held for the past 10 years. During his tenure in office, he has consistently stood up to corporate interests, leading the charge against the development of Amazon’s HQ2, he has been outspoken against Gov. Cuomo’s failure to react in the face of the COVID-19 nursing home deaths, and has continued to be an advocate for small business, elderly residents, and immigrants living in the district.
“In my 22 years in Flushing politics, I have never seen as much shady real-estate money poured into an election as I did this time around,” Kim said. “For weeks, I have encountered endless negative attacks trying shamelessly to distract, lie, and erase the work my office has done and will continue to do for our seniors and immigrant workers. To those dark money groups – I want to say thank you. You have affirmed my belief that I am taking on the right people, the people who exploit the fears of others to enrich themselves.”
Unlike past elections—including the 2020 primaries where Kim won against Democratic candidate Steven Lee by a nearly 40 percent margin—the 2022 primary election was a tight race right up to the end.
Chiu, founder of the New York City Asian American Democratic Club, previously ran against Assemblywoman Nily Rozic in the 2020 primary election. After being contested over the validity of his ballot signatures at an in-person hearing with the Board of Elections, Chiu’s candidacy was withdrawn from the race, handing the Democratic party line to the incumbent.
This year, however, Chiu took no quarter, giving Kim a run for his money in a nail-biter at the polls.
Kim, having just barely won the Democratic ticket, still has more campaigning to do before the general elections in November, when he will face off against GOP candidate Sharon Liao to keep his seat in Albany.