The influential chairs of the state Senate Appropriations and Health committees today publicly backed Sukhee Kang for the open 29th Senate District, comprising parts of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
“Sukhee Kang brings a deeply inspiring life story and a broad background in public policy to the race in this district, which is right next door to mine,” Sen. Ed Hernandez said, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, and a doctor of optometry. “I look forward to assisting Sukhee in the campaign and working with him in the Senate.” Hernandez is also chair of the San Gabriel Valley Legislative Caucus. Part of the 29th Senate District is in the eastern San Gabriel Valley.
“As a big-city mayor during the great recession a few years ago, Sukhee Kang preserved services for people and protected public safety,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara, chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. “He will be a great partner in the Senate to keep the state’s finances on an even keel.” Lara made history in 2012 by becoming the first openly gay person of color elected to the Senate.
“I am greatly appreciative of the endorsements of Sen. Lara and Sen. Hernandez,” Kang said. “Their support in my campaign will be crucial in helping me win the important Latino vote in the 29th District, and I look forward to campaigning with them and seeking their counsel on issues of concern to the district and state.”
Kang previously won the support of Sen. Kevin de León, the current president pro tempore and Democratic leader of the Senate. De León, the first Latino leader of the state Senate in 130 years, publicly endorsed Kang earlier this month, saying, “I enthusiastically support Sukhee for Senate District 29. He is the perfect Democratic candidate in this diverse seat, and I look forward to welcoming him to the Senate next year.” Democrats hold 26 of the 40 seats in the state Senate.
Kang was a two-term city councilmember in Irvine, as well as a two-term mayor of the city, reelected overwhelmingly in 2010 with more than 64 percent of the vote. He and his wife Joanne, also a South Korean native who immigrated to the U.S. with him in 1977, have been residents of Orange County for 38 years and now live in Fullerton.
Kang announced his candidacy for the open 29th Senate District on April 22, the first and so far only Democrat to do so, and has since picked up dozens of endorsements from state and local officials and community leaders throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties. The district is currently represented by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, who cannot run again due to term limits.
Kang has been recognized numerous times for his outstanding public service and community leadership, including receiving the American Diabetes Association’s “Orange County Father of the Year Award” in 2012, the Carnegie Corporation’s “Pride of America” award in 2010, and the International Leadership Foundation’s “Public Servant of the Year” award in 2010. The Irvine Chamber of Commerce also recognized Kang in 2010 as “Business Leader of the Year.”
Kang graduated from Korea University with a degree in agricultural economics, and in 2011 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Dongseo University in Busan, Korea. He also has served a special advisor to the chancellor of UC Irvine, and as an adjunct professor and Chancellor Fellow at Chapman University.
The Kang children, Alan, 34, and Angie, 32, attended public schools in Anaheim, where the Kang family lived for 10 years. Alan, a graduate of USC’s Marshall School of Business, is a manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Angie, a graduate of Berkeley Law School (Boalt Hall), is senior counsel at Hulu.