The PAC has raised just under $112,000 since its inception in October 2020, according to Federal Election Commission records, and has spent about $85,000. Less than half — $35,700 — went to candidates and committees, mostly in New Jersey. It made the majority of its donations — $21,200 — after Kim declared his Senate candidacy in September.
That’s a minor sum considering Kim’s fundraising prowess. He reported
raising a total of $2.7 million for his Senate campaign since launching it in late September.
In a statement, the Kim campaign said the leadership PAC was a “part of a multi-pronged effort to support the [Asian American Pacific Islander] community” and that he will focus more energy into growing In Our Hands. The campaign cited Kim’s support of
access to capital for AAPI businesses, efforts to
address hate crimes and support for
creating a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture.
“He has also worked hard to support candidates up and down the ballot, providing mentorship and advice, speaking at candidate events, and traveling to headline national AAPI political summits,” campaign spokesperson Katey Sobo said in an email.
Kim faced a daunting challenge when he started the PAC with the goal of energizing a small segment of the population to run for office and diversify the political landscape. New Jersey, for example, is one of the most diverse states in the country but had just three Asian Americans in the state Legislature when he started the group. That number
has since doubled, though Kim’s PAC’s did not spend heavily on New Jersey state legislative elections.
Supporters of Kim, the first Asian American in New Jersey elected to the House, say his goal is admirable and helpful. Democratic Virginia State Delegate Irene Shin — who met Kim before he went to Congress — said that he helped connect her to donors and navigate campaigns, especially in her first run for office. Shin has received a cumulative $3,000 from Kim’s PAC.
“Working to recruit and train candidates is something not always easily quantifiable, but it doesn’t mean it’s not happening,” Shin — who the Kim campaign referred to POLITICO for this story — said in an interview. “The fact there is a movement in dedication of AAPI candidates, that’s a big deal. You can tie Congressman Kim’s efforts to some of that.”
Around $49,000 of In Our Hands’ spending went towards fundraising expenses and consulting, web services and various fees, according to the FEC.
The biggest donation from In Our Hands’ was to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee: $10,000 in November 2023. It gave the maximum donation of $5,200 to state Sen. Vin Gopal, New Jersey’s first South Asian state senator, for his 2023 election, which he won by a landslide in a district viewed as competitive. It also gave $1,000 or more to about 20 candidates for federal state and local office.
The PAC finished 2023 with just under $27,000 on hand.
Gopal said he’s had conversations with Kim — whose district overlaps with his — about getting more young Asian Americans into politics and government. Gopal said immigrant parents like his are often more interested in careers for their children that offer better job security. “Politics, liberal arts are not something in the sphere for those families. Not that much different than Italians and Irish 80 years ago,” he said.
Uyen “Winn” Khuong, a progressive activist who runs the group Action Together New Jersey, was optimistic about Kim’s ability to raise money for the cause when he started the PAC. But she doesn’t blame him for its slow fundraising, saying it’s easier to attract money for candidates in competitive races such as Kim’s House contests and the Senate seat he’s vying for now over donating causes that some might view as “nebulous.”
“They’ll donate to Andy directly. They believe in him for the Senate run, obviously,” she said. “But when he asked, I’m assuming, about supporting other AAPI candidates as a start to build the base, I don’t know if donors are like ‘That’s kind of nebulous. We don’t know who they are yet.’ Good on him for trying.”
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