Orange County is home to some of the most influential political supporters in the United States. Since the beginning of the year, Republican committees and candidates have received nearly five times as much in donations than their Democratic counterparts. These funds are often channeled through companies or registered under different names and addresses. This article will focus on the major political campaigns in Orange County, highlighting the key players and their contributions.
Joni Rogers-Kante and Duane Roberts are two of the most prominent political donors in Orange County. Joni Rogers-Kante is the founder of SeneGence, a multi-level marketing company based in Foothill Ranch that manufactures personal care products, including the popular LipSense line of lipsticks. She is also the strategy director for the company. Duane Roberts is a retired Navy colonel who now runs his own security consultant.
The couple has donated to With Honor Fund, a super PAC that supports candidates from both sides of the aisle who are veterans.
Kelly Robertsis another major donor in Orange County. She is the wife of Matthew Jones, a retired Navy colonel who now runs his own security consultant, and Nancy Jones, a volunteer lawyer at the Veterans Law Institute based in Santa Ana. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump appointed Kelly Roberts to the Kennedy Center board.
Two years ago, she applied to be Trump's designated ambassador to Slovenia (the home country of First Lady Melania Trump), although she withdrew her name due to financial problems. The U. S. House of Representatives elections in Orange County could be reduced to a runoff among Asian-American candidates.
Both parties are investing heavily in reaching out to this community, a sign of the rise of Asian American voting power in California. Michelle Steel, a Republican from Seal Beach, and Jay Chen, her Democratic rival, are two of the most prominent candidates for local office. Steel praises the United States as the best country on Earth and Chen connects with voters through his service in the Navy's Seventh Fleet, which rescued refugees fleeing Vietnam in the 1970s. Their standoff in California's 45th congressional district is one of the most closely contested House of Representatives elections in the country amid a midterm election in which Republicans appear to be on the verge of regaining control of Congress.
It is also one of two seats in Orange County that could be reduced to a runoff this fall among Asian-American candidates, a historically rare event that highlights the growing political influence of this rapidly growing electorate and its growing importance for both parties, in California and nationally. The Republican National Committee opened its office in Westminster last summer as a joint campaign headquarters and community outreach center for voters, while the Democratic Party has local organizers who build relationships and cultivate volunteers in various Asian communities. While both candidates say that the race will be decided based on general issues such as inflation and gas prices, Asian-American identity has become a central element of the campaign. Developing personal relationships is especially important in Little Saigon and other close-knit Asian immigrant communities in Orange County, where trusted local leaders and ethnic media have considerable influence among voters.
Historically, political commitment has been much lower than average among Asian Americans but recent election cycles have marked an “awakening” of this electorate. This article has provided an overview of some of Orange County's major political campaigns and highlighted some of its key players and their contributions. It is clear that Asian American voters will play an important role in deciding who will represent California's 45th congressional district this fall.