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Four Filipino Americans Win 2024 Primary Elections in California

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On March 6, 2024, four Filipino Americans emerged as leading candidates in the primary elections for California Senate, California’s 52nd District State Assembly, Los Angeles’ 14th District City Council, and San Diego’s mayoral race. Their feats demonstrate the growing presence of Filipino American voices in the United States and the need for more diverse representation at local and state levels.


Filipino Americans have been an integral part of California’s social and economic history for generations. In the 1920s, thousands of Filipino agricultural workers and service laborers immigrated to the "Golden State,” contributing to the development of the West Coast and bringing along their rich traditions and cultural pride. Today, over four million live across California, making Filipino Americans the third largest ethnic population in the state.

Despite their monumental impacts and growing presence, these populations have historically been underrepresented in American politics. Though over two million Filipino Americans are eligible voters in California alone, few Filipino Americans occupy public offices in the state. For instance, there has never been a person of Filipino descent in the California Senate. However, some politicians this year are taking strides to change this reality and uplift the voices of Filipino voters.

On March 5, 2024, California held its primary election to determine which candidates will advance to the November general election for local, state, and federal offices. Notably, California implements a Top-Two Primary system, where all contenders for “voter-nominated” office positions are listed on one ballot, regardless of party affiliation. The results of the primary only allow the leading two candidates to run in November, but these rules do not apply to the presidential election or local offices.

Significantly, four Filipino American politicians—Jessica Caloza, Christopher Cabaldon, Ysabel Jurado, and Todd Gloria—raced to the forefront of their respective primary elections in March, increasing representation at the local and state levels.

The Four Candidates

  • Jessica Caloza

Election details: As the only Asian American and first Filipina running, Jessica Caloza won the California 52nd District State Assembly primary election, securing 30.1% of the votes. District 52 includes a large portion of Los Angeles and the southern region of Glendale.

Background: Originally born in Quezon City, Philippines, Caloza has a long history in the public sector. She worked as an education policy advisor during Barack Obama’s presidency, and she served as the first Filipino American commissioner on the Los Angeles Board of Public Works. She also assisted California Attorney General Rob Bonta as his Chief of Staff.

Campaign platform for Filipino American communities: She has focused a portion of her campaign on bolstering the voices of Filipino Americans in local government. In a TikTok video, she said, “... in LA County, we have the largest number of Filipinos outside of the Philippines . . . and Filipino Americans in LA, in California, and in the United States are so powerful.”

  • Christopher Cabaldon

Election details: Although Christopher Cabaldon was the second runner-up in the California Senate District 3 primary election with 26.6% of the votes, he will advance to the general election in November. District 3 includes Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties.

Background: Cabaldon started his public service career in the Yolo County health commission and city council. Before his current campaign, he was the West Sacramento Mayor from 1998 to 2020. During his term, he was appointed to the National Advisory Board of College Promise to assist with educational initiatives.

Campaign platform for Filipino American communities: Cabaldon promised during the primary election to address anti-Asian hate and support Filipino-owned businesses.

  • Ysabel Jurado

Election details: Running for the Los Angeles City Council’s 14th District seat, Ysabel Jurado secured the most votes in the primary election. Though a close-call election, polls indicated she received 24.52% of the votes. The 14th District encompasses Northeast Los Angeles, Downtown Los Angeles, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, and Boyle Heights.

Background: A child of undocumented Filipino immigrants, Jurado is a tenants rights attorney. She has never held a public office position, but she is the first Filipino American woman to run for city council in the 14th District.

Campaign platform for Filipino American communities: Jurado is focused on housing security and public safety for minority populations, including Filipino locals.

  • Todd Gloria

Election details: As the incumbent, Todd Gloria gained 50.9% of the votes in San Diego’s mayoral primary election.

Background: Gloria previously served in the San Diego City Council and in California’s 78th State Assembly. When elected as mayor of San Diego in 2020, he became the first Filipino American mayor to govern a US city with a population of over a million.

Campaign platform for Filipino American communities: Gloria used his previous term as mayor to create Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) initiatives, such as the Asian-Pacific Islander Advisory Group. His campaign is focused on continuing and expanding these efforts.

The Future of Politics and Filipino Americans

The 2024 California General Election is set for November 5, 2024, and county elections offices will send vote-by-mail ballots to all registered California voters on October 7, 2024.

Though the primary election results do not guarantee the success of the four individual campaigns, they do signify a growing trend of AAPI influence in various levels of government. In 1980, around 160 officials of Asian descent were in public offices across the United States, and by 2016, that number rose to 463. The emergence of Jessica Caloza, Christopher Cabaldon, Ysabel Jurado, and Todd Gloria is a testament to the AAPI community’s burgeoning impact on the public sector and the significance of Filipino American representation in local and state offices.


Denise Sievert Geronimo is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a recent graduate from Colorado College, where she studied International Political Economy and Journalism. She is also 2024 Charles B. Rangel Fellow with the US Department of State.