The Korean American voters’ dilemma in NJ

November 3, 2014

Roy Cho

By Brian Han

As election day rolls around on Nov. 4, there is a potential dilemma for Korean Americans in New Jersey’s 5th District as they decide on which candidate deserves their vote.

Six-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) has continually been a supporter of local Korean businesses as well as relations between the U.S. and South Korea. Garrett was a supporter of the House of Representatives Resolution 121, also known as the “comfort women resolution,” which proposed that the Government of Japan “should formally acknowledge, apologize and accept responsibility… for [that actions of] its Imperial Armed Forces.”

The newcomer on the other hand is Democrat Roy Cho, a 33-year-old Korean American corporate lawyer who has never run for office until now. His campaign describes him as “a non-politician to make Washington work.”

Although Garrett’s credentials and experience would put him as an undisputed front runner, it turns out Cho and his team have been campaigning aggressively enough to make it a close race.

An Oct. 15 poll by Monmouth University in New Jersey showed that Cho was only trailing by five points, but the latest results put the difference at 11 points.

To provide some perspective, the closest Democrats have come to unseating Garrett from his tenure was back in 2006 when Paul Arohnson, spokesman for former New Jersey Gov., Jim McGreevey, came within 11 points.

Furthermore, two of New Jersey’s largest publications, The Star-Ledger and The Record both have fully endorsed Roy Cho as the next representative for the state’s 5th District.

Garrett may share certain conservative fiscal and social interests with the Korean population, but the Korean Americans may be looking at one of their own as a new leader in Roy Cho.