Watch CBS News

3 Asian-American candidates battling in District 40 Assembly primary

Many eyes are on race for Democratic state Assembly in Queens
Many eyes are on race for Democratic state Assembly in Queens 02:17

NEW YORK -- Ahead of the June 25 primaries, eyes are on a race for New York State Assembly in Queens. Three proud Asian immigrants will compete to win the hearts and minds in District 40, which includes parts of Flushing and surrounding neighborhoods.

Incumbent Ron Kim was raised in Flushing and became the first Korean-American elected to the Legislature in 2012. Now, he's facing two opponents from China: Dao Yin and Yi Andy Chen.

Favored by progressives, Kim may be best known for taking on Andrew Cuomo during the pandemic, demanding an investigation into his handling of nursing home deaths. Now, he's regarded as vulnerable, having beaten his Republican challenger by fewer than 500 votes in the last election.

He said Monday he's ready to tackle key quality-of-life issues like public safety by uplifting the middle class.

"When the middle class is shrinking, as we're seeing in my district, everything fails," Kim said.

Who are Dao Yin and Yi Andy Chen?

His challengers argue they're better equipped to address constituents' concerns. Yin, born in Shanghai, wants to improve transportation in his district. He says he'll draw on a background in finance and computer information systems, channeling the business-world ethos of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"I'm a numbers person, so I know how to do the budget," he said.

Chen, a native of Fuzhou, says he's embedded in local organizations devoted to improving schools and affordable housing.

"I think I have established great relationships with the community and my future colleagues in Albany," he said.

Chen sees the incumbent as out of touch.

"Twelve years is way too long, and we cannot wait anymore," Chen said.

"It's hard to beat an incumbent, very, very difficult"   

Political analyst Hank Sheinkopf says voters will decide whether Kim has kept pace with the needs of diverse and populous District 40.

"There's always been ethnic breaks in that district. You have Koreans, you have Chinese, you have people from other Asian countries, and you have people who aren't from overseas," Sheinkopf said.

While many to the center and right want the incumbent gone, Sheinkopf says the left is likely to stand firm with Kim.

"It's hard to beat an incumbent, very, very difficult. That's why more than 90% of all incumbents any place in the country get re-elected," he said.

Kim's chances could be bolstered by a divided field of opposition -- challengers Kim sees as political opportunists who lack a history in the community.

"When it rains in my district, it pours in my family, and no one in this race can say the same thing," he said.

You can email Elle with Queens story ideas by CLICKING HERE

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.