Gavin Newsom Declines Participation in First-ever APA-focused Gubernatorial Debate


Contact: Miko Jao
Manager of Voter Engagement
Phone: 626-356-9838

Pasadena, CA – April 16, 2018 – Gavin Newsom, the front-runner candidate for California’s governor race is the only one out of six invited candidates to decline participation in the first-ever, APA-focused gubernatorial debate. The selection criteria for candidates to participate was based on the data results from extensive polling conducted at the time of determination.

Representatives from Newsom’s campaign team officially responded as follows, “Unfortunately based on the large number of debate requests and competing demands for the Lieutenant Governor’s time, we will be unable to attend. For context, by the end of February, we will have already completed seven candidate debates and forums…”

With the support and partnership of over 70+ community organizations and 15+ press agencies, the 2018 APA-facing Gubernatorial Debate is the first ever California gubernatorial debate to focus on the unique issues facing Asian Pacific Americans. With the APA population comprising nearly 15% of California’s electorate, the APA community could potentially decide the outcome of the 2018 elections.

Community leaders in the APA community are collectively disappointed at Gavin Newsom’s lack of concern for APA-facing issues. “This is a unique and rare opportunity to talk to the APA community,” said Charlie Woo, Board Chair of CAUSE. “Not showing up is really disrespectful. Doesn’t Gavin know what respect is?”

Kim Yamasaki, CAUSE Executive Director, also chimed in saying, “We understand that there are many debates competing for candidates’ time and attention. But this is the chance to make history. Too often, the APA voting bloc is left out of political discussions. The absence and unwillingness of a front-running candidate to participate in this debate is just another classic example of our community being ignored.”

Members and leaders of the APA community have also expressed their concerns online via Twitter, using the hashtag #WheresGavin. A few of these tweets are included below:

@andrew_y_chen “@GavinNewsom Asian Americans have long been taken for granted as reliable party votes in one direction or the other. We finally get the chance to showcase our community’s issues on a statewide platform and you bail? That’s not leadership.”

Twitter, 2 April 2018, 2:31PM,

@rickychoi “Five candidates have shown that they respect the Asian Pacific American community and have confirmed for California’s first ever #APAGovDebate but #WheresGavin? Sure, ignore 15% of California’s electorate and the fastest growing ethnic group in the nation.”

Twitter, 2 April 2018, 7:03PM,

@altonwang “The #APAGovDebate will be the 1st time California’s gubernatorial candidates will directly address the #AAPI community—but while the other top six candidates have confirmed, @GavinNewsom has not. Absence speaks volumes of a candidate’s commitment to our communities. #WheresGavin?”

Twitter, 2 April 2018, 1:54PM,

There is still hope that Gavin Newsom will reconsider his decision to not participate in the APA-focused gubernatorial debate. Yamasaki added, “We would gladly welcome his participation. But another part of us thinks that it shouldn’t have to even take convincing.”

The APA Gubernatorial Debate will take place on Friday, April 27, 2018, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM (PST). Admission to the debate is free and open to the public at the Sexson Auditorium of Pasadena City College (1570 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91106). To RSVP, please click here.

Center for Asian Americans United for Self-Empowerment (CAUSE) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan, community-based organization with a mission to advance the political empowerment of the Asian Pacific American community through nonpartisan voter outreach, training, and education as well as leadership development.

Media and press agencies interested in partnership opportunities for this debate should contact Miko Jao, CAUSE Manager of Voter Engagement at 

For any further inquiries, please contact CAUSE via phone at (626) 356-9838 or email at General information can be obtained from our website at Our office is located at 260 S. Los Robles Avenue, #115, Pasadena, CA 91101