By Ken Stone
Despite quickly raising more than $100,000, UC San Diego political science professor Tom Wong has announced that he’s dropping out of the race to replace Rep. Susan Davis in the 53rd Congressional District.
“At the end of the day, the reason is simple: family comes first,” Wong said Sunday in a Facebook post. “Our moments with the boys are increasingly precious. Above all else, I need to focus on ensuring the health and well-being of my family.”
Wong and his wife of 18 years, Rose, have 8-year-old triplets and live in North Park.
The decision to suspend his 7-week-old campaign came after “deep deliberation, but with clarity of mind,” he wrote in the 345-word post.
Running against such well-funded candidates as San Diego Councilwoman Georgette Gomez and repeat candidate Sara Jacobs of the Qualcomm-founding family, Wong, 37, expressed pride in a series of accomplishments, including generating “social media buzz.”
“In the third week, we released polling that showed that we could win,” he said. “And by the fourth week, we already outreached to 30,000 voters in the district.”
Wong said he’d refund all his contributions.
But despite his success, the possibility of running and winning was no longer the best outcome for him and his family, he said.
“I look forward to going back to being a professor, running the U.S. Immigration Policy Center, and leading voter engagement programs across the country to mobilize voters of color and immigrant communities,” he said. “CA-53 deserves bold, progressive leadership.”
Wong aimed to become the first formerly undocumented Asian American and Pacific Islander member of Congress. He and his family emigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong when he was 2 and says he didn’t learn he lacked legal immigration documentation until he was 16.
Wong, who served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in 2016, said in November he would seek to uplift the roles of science and research and champion immigration reform as a congressman.
“I’m running for Congress because I still believe in the American dream,” he said. “I’m running to ensure that the opportunities that I had are available to others — from immigrants and refugees to working-class families trying to put food on their tables — who, if just given a shot, can live out their own American dreams.”
Davis announced in September that she would not run for a 10th term in the 53rd District, which encompasses La Mesa, Lemon Grove, parts of El Cajon and Chula Vista and central San Diego neighborhoods such as Hillcrest, Grantville and North Park.
The field* also includes U.S. Navy veteran Jose Caballero, community organizer Joaquin Vazquez and Marine Corps veteran Janessa Goldbeck — all Democrats — and Republican nurse Famela Ramos.
*An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Marisa Calderon was running in the 53rd District. Calderon considered a run in the 53rd, but switched to the 50th before the filing deadline.
Updated at 12:55 p.m. Jan. 7, 2020
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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