The immigrant and Army veteran is running to represent western Orange County in the state legislature.
Benjamin Yu, a Republican who joined the Army after 9/11, is running for California Assembly District 72 in the upcoming primary.
The son of Chinese immigrants, Yu and his family came to the United States when he was a teenager, initially living in New York. Although he is a former Democrat, Yu has become increasingly critical of the Democratic Party for its “slide toward socialism,” which he says is reminiscent of “the communism we fled in China.”
Currently, Yu chairs the Lake Forest Traffic and Parking Commission. He has run for office before, including for a seat on the board of the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, as well as the 68th Assembly District in 2020, although he lost both elections.
In his campaign, Yu has cited crime, unemployment, and housing affordability as among his top issues. As a former homeless veteran, he has placed particular emphasis on increasing resources for both the homeless and California’s veteran population. At a recent candidate forum, he said that California is “one of the most regressive states in terms of their programs for veterans,” and that homelessness must be solved “gradually” and “piece by piece.”
Yu is running against two other candidates: fellow Republican Diane Dixon, a Newport Beach councilmember and former mayor, and Democrat Judie Mancuso, a longtime animal rights activist. The two candidates with the highest vote totals in the June 7 primary will go on to face each other in the November general election.
Assembly District 72 covers a wide swath of coastal Orange County, including all or part of the cities of Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach, as well as the inland cities of Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, and Lake Forest. It is currently represented by Assemblymember Janet Nguyen, who is running for a California Senate seat due to redistricting.