Last week, the Filipino American Families of America in Politics (FAFAP), a new group in the Filipino-American stronghold of Nevada, endorsed Republican U.S. senatorial candidate Dean Heller and in the process revealed fissures in the Filipino community.
Some Filipinos have protested Heller's endorsement, arguing that FAFAP does not represent the community. Democratic challenger Rep. Shelley Berkley's campaign said Heller's camp is exaggerating FAPAP's size and importance.
As their numbers increase in Nevada, Filipinos and Asians in general have been courted by both political parties which compete for increasingly narrow margins. Since 2000, the Asian community has grown 116 percent in Nevada and Asian American and Pacific Islanders now count for 8.4 percent of the state's population.
The National Federation of Filipino American Associations, citing U.S. Census figures, reports that of the more than 3.4 million Americans of Filipino descent in the U.S., close to 100,000 call Nevada home.
Luke Perry and Ceasar Elpidio, founders of FAPAP, ignored criticism and were not concerned about the possible rift they are causing within the Filipino community. They argue Heller has been a staunch advocate for World War II Filipino American veterans and their families. The issue of proper compensation and recognition for the veterans' military service is a crucial one for Filipino Americans.
It remains to be seen if FAPAP will be able to deliver the Filipino vote to Heller and the Republican Party. Filipino Americans, like other Asians, tend to lean Democratic.