WASHINGTON DC — The road to serve in the legislative branch of the U.S. government was a long and dramatic one for this Filipino American business owner and engineer from California.
But despite the obvious hurdles including running against a Republican incumbent who had been in office for several years, and the fact that no other Filipino American had ever won a congressional seat in California — TJ Cox, son of an immigrant Filipina mother, made it here.
BA caught up with Cox in Washington DC on Thursday, during a quick break from a week-long orientation for new members of Congress.
Still filled with excitement, Cox told us about the moment when he knew his life would now be different.
He admits his pride is shared with one community that helped him win.
“I wouldn’t be standing here today if it wasn’t for the Filipino votes. The largest town in our district is Delano, there’s probably 30 percent Filipino population there. And I’ve only won this race by 500 votes. So the Filipinos who came out and voted for me, thank you very much. You made this happen today.”
Cox’s win is among the 40 seats Democrats flipped in the House of Representatives, giving Democrats control of the lower chamber.
But Cox also joins a much smaller group of elected officials. He is one of only two members of Congress with Filipino ancestry in office.
“I think the same message as the message as my mom when she came from the Philippines to America, she knew that America is such a land of opportunity, it’s so welcoming, and you have every opportunity in the world to do whatever you want to do and be whatever you want to be, with hard work and dedication, the American dream is out there for all of us, particularly the Filipinos.”
The 116th Congress will convene on January 3rd. There are more Democrats, more women and more diversity, and that includes one Filipino American from California.