Peter Kuo with Republican South Carolina
Gov. Nikki Haley, center.

STATE SENATE | 10TH DISTRICT | The rise of Peter Kuo may be a sign the California Republican Party is done with sticking its collective heads in the sand when it comes to the state’s changing demographics.

In just five months, Kuo has risen from obscurity to catching the attention of Republican party leaders. On Thursday, Kuo was named co-chair of Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Ron Nehring’s campaign and head of the campaign’s Asian American coalition.

“Peter Kuo is part of a new generation of Republican leaders who are working hard every day to provide a better alternative to what we see in Sacramento today, and I’m excited to have Peter join our team,” said Nehring.

Kuo, a first-time candidate who is running along with Democrats Mary Hayashi and Bob Wieckowski for the open 10th State Senate seat, procured the audience of high-ranking state Republican officials after some in the party came to the realization his chances of finishing in the top-two primary penciled out positively. Republicans believe Kuo stands a chance to entice independent voters from the South Bay’s large Asian American population.

In addition, Kuo has deftly used SCA-5, an attempt by Democrats in the Assembly to roll back Proposition 209, the measure passed by voters in 1996, in part, ending affirmative action at state universities. Tinkering with Prop. 209 is deeply opposed by a good portion of Asian American voters in the 10th State Senate District reaching from Castro Valley to San Jose.

In addition, the Asian American demographic makes up a large portion of those enrolled in state colleges. There are also signs dissatisfaction with the issue among Asian American voters reaches across party and ideological lines. Subsequently, Democrats in the Assembly felt increased pressure from these groups and effectively shelved the issue for the time being.