The Business Candidate?

Minh Duong, the pro-business, Chamber of Commerce–endorsed City Council candidate, has made his business experience the central theme of his campaign to oust District 7 Councilmember Madison Nguyen. He believes his knowledge of budgets and finance can help the economically-strapped city better manage its money.

Duong’s own business acumen, however, may not rise to the level his talking points suggest. The 31-year-old furniture store owner has defaulted on his home mortgage, incurred multiple property tax delinquencies, neglected to pay his garbage bills and been threatened with eviction on his business and foreclosure on his house. Last month, he was kicked off the San José Small Business Development Commission.

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  1. Interesting research.  I’d call this fact finding to be “fair game” when it comes to someone seeking public office.

    The age of 31 raises some red flags in terms of how accomplished he could really be in the business world. 

    In terms of District 7 politics, as the “Vietnamese” district with both candidates in the runoff coming from that ethnic community, there appears to be a special form of political theater going on.

    Add in the city-wide traditional battle lines between labor and business and it gets interesting.

    Despite all the talk and money spent, hit pieces mailed and the rest, we’re talking about 5000 votes total for the winning council member in this district of 100,000.  Obviously there’s a small core of regular voters, and the question becomes how do you get their support (or scare them out of supporting your opponent.)

    Madison Nguyen has prevailed on the ballot enough times that going into the run-off with 42 percent of the vote she’s still favored to win.  One could argue however, that an incumbent who had 58% of the vote split among three candidate is vulnerable.  Maybe.  We’re still only talking about a few hundred votes probably deciding this race with about 8000 cast overall in the primary.

  2. Blair,

    Wow. Only 5,000 voters are expected to cast ballots in a district containing 100,000. That statistic, if accurate, is a pretty sad commentary on how well this community has been integrated into our society.

    • Downtown has a really low participation rate too.  I remember looking at Pandori’s numbers when he won and thinking I got more votes for student government at SJSU than he did for council. 

      If past trends carry out, it should be around 8-10k, so getting 50% plus 1 would be around 5k.

      What I find interesting is the amount of money it takes to get elected.  About 50-100k for both primary and runoff in a contested raise.  It doesn’t vary much between high turnout districts (Almaden) and low turnout districts (Downtown.)  Money plays a strategic role in that a candidate with a war chest and a number of contributors is considered “vetted” and serious versus someone who eschews fundraising and raises and spends only a token amount.

      One thing that works well is getting a lot of small contributions as these folks feel “invested” in the candidate much more.  They will not only make sure they cast their ballot but will actively pursue getting friends and neighbors to also vote their way to see that their investment pays off.  People are notoriously reluctant to give money to candidates that look like long-shots, so those with money find it easier to raise more.

      And at the end of the day, walking precincts personally works better than anything else.  Talking to people and showing that you want to listen gets people behind you more than anything else.  There’s strategic ways to do this (you can buy reports from the registrar showing who voted in what elections and use this to target your efforts on “likely voters”.)

  3. ‘Unaware’ he failed to pay business, personal, and property taxes? Not the first time I’ve said this to a Vietnamese person: How stupid do you think I am?

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