A Vietnamese American politician who has never held higher office is clinging to a 239-vote lead over a former state senator in a bid to win a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
Andrew Do, a former Garden Grove councilman and an attorney, and former state Sen. Lou Correa are far ahead in a five-candidate race to replace Janet Nguyen, who stepped down from the board when she was elected to the state Senate.
If Do is elected, the Board of Supervisors would have an Asian American majority for the first time. Michelle Park Steel, a Korean immigrant, and Lisa Barlett, a Japanese American, were elected to the five-member board in November.
As it stands, Do has 18,230 votes, 239 more than Correa in Tuesday's special election. Earlier Wednesday, Do had just a 2-vote edge, but an early evening update widened his lead.
Neal Kelley, registrar of voters, said he expects to certify the election by 8 p.m. Friday -- after a count of remaining absentee ballots.
Historically, Vietnamese American candidates have done well with absentee ballots because activists in the immigrant community focus heavily on registering voters, especially senior citizens, urging them to use translated written materials and to send their choices by mail.
Do has twice served as Nguyen's chief of staff and now could be in line to replace his old boss, who campaigned intensely for him in the Vietnamese-language media. The campaign spurred speculation that if Do wasn't elected, county officials could close a Westminster service center in Little Saigon that provides social services to immigrants.
Do was elected to the Garden Grove City Council in 2008 but resigned in 2011.
Correa, who has wide name recognition across the county, led the field in fundraising, bringing in nearly $80,000 in six weeks. A former supervisor, he won the 1st District board seat in 2004, later resigning in 2006 after his election to the state Senate, where he served two terms.