Asian American Involvement
in Texas Democratic Party
By AJ Duranni
Although Texan Asian Americans have been involved in the politics of the Democratic Party for several decades, it was at the 1990 Texas Democratic State Convention in Houston that the AAPI community organized as the Asian American Democrats of Texas, Inc. (AADT) was recognized as a caucus of the Texas Democratic Party (TDP). The efforts to obtain such recognition were led by Robert W. Gee (Chairman Public Utility Commission of Texas appointed by Governor Ann Richards in 1991 and later Assistant Secretary in US Department of Energy), Gordon Quan (Council Member, City of Houston), Mark Lee (Chairman SD17, Harris
County Democratic Party), and Judy Lee (Founding Member AADT).
In later years Rogene Gee Calvert (Chief of Staff for Gordon Quan, Houston City Council), Judge Hannah Chow, and Judge Toni Ingversen became involved in AADT leadership and affairs. In the early 2000’s, Houston businessman Bien Tran became President of AADT and led the organization until 2006.
At the Texas Democratic State Convention, in Fort Worth in 2006, two significant events occurred, that put Asian Americans and AADT firmly on the map of Texas politics. For the first time in history, an Asian American was elected to the Texas State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) – in fact two Asian Americas were elected to the SDEC at that time – they were Farrukh Shamsi (representing SD7) and Arif Gafur (SD17). The other noteworthy event was that Asian Americans were recognized as an under-represented community and TDP Rules were amended by the Convention to include two members of the AAPI community (a man and a woman) as perpetual Add-On members of the SDEC with AADT being recognized by TDP as the sole representative of the Asian American community in Texas. Thus, that year, Mini Timmaraju (President AADT) and AJ Durrani (Vice President AADT) became members of the Texas SDEC swelling the rank of Asian Americans in that body to 4In 2012, Farrukh Shamsi was elected to the position of Vice-Chair Finance, the third highest ranked position in TDP leadership and Executive Committee.
Another momentous achievement for Asian Americans occurred last year in 2016. Recognizing the growing population of voters in Texas, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had granted Texas a new at-large seat in 2016. The Asian American community nominated AJ Durrani as its nominee for that at-large DNC seat through the endorsement of the AADT Executive Committee and later by nomination at the AAPI Caucus. At the June 2016 Texas Democratic State Convention in San Antonio, AJ Durrani, who was SDEC Committeeman for SD17, won election to that DNC seat thereby establishing that position as the Texas AAPI DNC seat and ensuring that in the future his successor would also be Asian American. At the same 2016 Texas State Convention, Kathleen (Kat) Hoang was elected as the DNC representative for the Youth seat joining AJ Durrani as the first Asians from Texas elected to the DNC.
Since the humble beginnings in 1990, several members of the AAPI community have been elected as National Delegates to the Democratic National Convention, and in 2016 that figure reached 17.
The current 2016-18 AADT Executive Committee is made up of Francine Ly (President), AJ Durrani (Vice President), Razi Asaduddin (Treasurer), Nabila Mansoor (Secretary), and Farrukh Shamsi (ex-officio). Francine Ly and Razi Asaduddin are on the Texas SDEC representing AADT.