Meas Sam, a Cambodian-American making a run for the US House of Representatives, saw his campaign come to an end in Tuesday's primary election, but he says that won't stop his engagement in politics.
A former refugee who was entering politics for the first time, Meas Sam lost to Jon Golnik for the Republican nomination in Massachusetts' fifth district.
“I'll continue involvement in politics because I want to represent our community, especially the Cambodians,” he told VOA Khmer after the defeat. “I want progress and unity within the Cambodian community. I want them to exercise their rights, which start with going to vote, because there are a lot of us in the US, but most don't vote. That's why we don't get what we want. We don't benefit much.”
Sam Meas received substantive support in his congressional bid, placing second, above two other candidates from his Republican party. He won in four out of 29 towns, including Lowell, where a sizable population of Cambodians lives.
He'd campaigned on a platform of job creation for Cambodian-Americans and putting a halt to the deportation of Cambodians under a US immigration law, earning 7,588 votes—26 percent—to Golnik's 11,377.
“This time he was not successful, but he is still young and active,” said Khut Khaoly, a Lowell resident who voted for Sam Meas. “If he continues patiently, the next time he will received more votes and win the election.”
Sam Meas said his next move will be to help encourage Cambodians to run for town councils and school committees.
“Sam has set a good example for our people in America,” said Yap Kimtung, president of the group Cambodian Americans for Human Rights and Democracy. “If there is a candidate, we the Cambodians should contribute our funds so that they can win the election.”
Golnik will battle Democratic incumbent Niki Tsongas in November's mid-term election.