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Joe Dovinh: A Democratic Fan of Van Tran

Joseph Dovinh

We caught up with AD-68 candidate Joe Dovinh this afternoon to get to the bottom of his late entry into the AD-68 race as a Democrat.  Mr. Dovinh took issue with a post written by Chris Prevatt and our own interview got off to a rocky and argumentative start, where he almost insisted I record the inteview.  But, having read his quotes back to him, Dovinh seemed satisfied with my accuracy.

His argument with Prevatt’s post was that it relied heavily on a post by our friend Boslavik.  Dovinh suggested that Bolsavik’s post, doubting that the blogger had even listened to the radio show where Dovinh claimed to be the second highest vote getting amnong 12 Vietnamese candidates for office in 2008 behind Assemblyman Van Tran.

“On the Bolsvik website, it says that I went boasting about my vote count which Bolsavik got wrong,” said Dovinh.  “I doubt that Bolsivik listened to the show and if he did, he misquoted me.  I got the second most votes of any Vietnamese American candidate after Van Tran himself and I cited the number of votes I got in both races.”

Mr. Dovinh is a communications professional with his hand in a number of media outlets.  He is a freelance journalist and writer with a new blog.  He writes for Vietstar, a weekly newspaper published in Little Saigon, penning an English language column called “New Voices.”  He’s also written for Seattle Weekly and done several op-ed’s for the Seattle Post Intellgencer and The Vietnamese American. Dovinh is also a TV host and anchorman for VHN and VAN TV (Vietnamese American TV); VHN is carried in seven counties throughout California while VAN is a national network.  In addition, he also hosts a legal show that features Dina Nguyen, a former First District BoS candidate, and a lawyer with Nantha & Associates.  The program is broadcast in Vietnamese and covers issues pertaining to personal injury, workman’s comp, business law.  In addition, Dovinh is also a court contract interpreter for Vietnamese-speaking individuals in San Diego County, LA County and Orange County.

 That all said, we moved to the thorny part of the inteview; his ties to Assemblyman Van Tran.

“I see Van Tran as a friend,” he said.  “Van is one of the first Vietnamese American elected officials.  He’s a trailblazer and somebody who a lot of people, like myself, look up to.  On a personal note, there are times we have worked together.” 

Assemblyman Van Tran

Dovinh described how he and Tran worked together during the 2008 electional cycle to combat negativity on Vietnamese radio.

“There were a lot of negative political shows on radio attacking – not just the candidates — but everyday people,” Dovinh said.  “One radio station had issued a ‘no personal attacks’ policy which was not being enforced.  I assisted Van Tran at a press conference that addressed this issue.  It’s unacceptable when people who are not running for office – friends and supporters – are being attacked and, together, we called for community restraint.” 

Dovinh said the news that he was running for his friend’s former Assembly seat came as a complete surprise to Van Tran.  And the two men met for lunch to talk about the race.

“I am getting some encouragement (from Van Tran) to run but no financial support and no other support in the form of resources from him otherwise,” said Dovinh.

Dovinh only recently registered as a Democrat and supported Arizona Senator John McCain in the 2008 election.

“John McCain is a hero to Vietnamese Americans for his work after the war in assistanting Vietnamese immigrants to settle in the US,” he said.  “My community owed John McCain for his work in resettling Vietnamese immigrants after the war.  It’s an exception I made to my beliefs as a Democrat.”

 Dovinh sais he doesn’t agree with the Republican agenda.  

“I support healthcare reform,” he said.  “I support the economic programs including the stimulus program.” 

Dovinh said he was a registered Decline To State voter for a period of time.  But he joined the Democratic Party as he re-evaluated his political aspirations. 

“I am more attuned and affilitated with Democrats,” he said.  “Most of my mentors were Democrats.  Brian D. Jones, my professor at University of Washington Political Science Department.  The Late Professor Daniel Lev at Washington held great influence to my way of thinking.  I haven’t been as active with hardcore Democrats in Orange County.  But I have been to many Loretta Sanchez and Lou Correra events.  I have met Assemblyman Jose Solorio.  I do look up to these politicians and they are leaders of our community.  I would welcome the opportunity to work more closely with them.  I admire Loretta with her work on human rights.

 This begged the question.  Will he support his friend Van Tran for Congress or support the Democratic imcumbent Sanchez?

“I will vote for my party (of the CD-47 race), however I am supportive of Van Tran as a Vietnamese American,” said Dovinh.  “I will support Vietnamese Americans who can promote and advance our agenda and I think Van Tran can if he is given the chance.  But I will vote with my party on that race.  I also know Van Tran will vote for the Republican candidate in AD 68 and not me.  We don’t always agree politically but we’re friends personally.”


  1. Slatemag Slatemag March 11, 2010

    I like the guy. I may not vote for him but I like his maturity. Per this interview, obviously Bolsavik doesn’t like anyone or anything associated with Mr. Tran. He bad mouthed Mr Donvinh for no reason. At least the race will now be more interesting.

  2. 68th Resident 68th Resident March 11, 2010

    What? You like the guy because of his maturity? He is a pompous ass. What kind of Democrat voted for McCain, is good friends with Van Tran, and shares a TV show with Republican Dina Nguyen? Dovinh is either extremely misguided to the point of idiocy or he is perhaps too close to the Trannies and is trying to manipulate the race.

    Why didn’t Dan ask why Dovinh is running when there is much more qualified and competent candidate already in?

    BTW, Van’s record reflects the party more than it does the interests of the Vietnamese community. And Dovinh’s comments regarding how he and Van were concerned about attacks on everyday people makes me want to barf, what about Lan Nguyen’s (Lan is a Trannie) attacks on Latinos and other “every day people”? Did Dovinh put a stop to that? This moron is a complete waste of time.

  3. Slatemag Slatemag March 12, 2010

    What? Who? The voters decide who is qualified for the job not you and me. Remember this is an election not a coronation. I like Mr Donvinh because he said he would vote for his party in Nov not his friend. Even he acknowledged to like Mr Tran but would stay true to his politics. Does that show a maturity?

    Who is your candidate? Another community organizer without any experience running for an elected position. It means he hasn’t been tested yet. Is he the most qualified candidate? I think not.

    Again, I like Mr Donvinh because he can reach across the aisle to work with the other party, if elected. The voters expect that much not a partisan fight like in DC or in Sacramento now.

  4. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski March 12, 2010

    Mr. Dovinh was very argumentative during the interview. He seemed obsessed about being misquoted or misrepresented. Often times, he would not allow me to finish asking a question. I’m not convinced he has the temperment to be the successful candidate. And while I appreciate his honesty about his relationship with Van Tran, I am suspcious of his motives. I believe his candidacy is designed to make the primary battle expensive, leaving the Republican unscathed for the general election.

    I treated this interview straight; but in my opinion, Phu Nguyen and even Alan Mansoor have every right to demand that any broadcast outlet carrying Mr. Donvinh’s programs provide them with “equal time.” Remember how stations would not broadcast Ronald Reagan movies or Arnold Schwarzenegger movies while they ran?

  5. Slatemag Slatemag March 12, 2010

    Your suspicion is a valid one. However Mr Donvinh has his own too because Chris attacked him without an interview like yours. One doesn’t want to be shot down twice by the same gun.
    Again I reserve my right to like this guy.

  6. Math Professor Math Professor March 12, 2010

    Yes, it’s true Dovinh got more votes than any other Vietnamese candidate, other than Van Tran. He got 4,000 more votes than Kim Oanh Nguyen Lam (the 3rd runner up). However, the district he ran for outnumber hers by more than 200,000 people; 338,742 – 128,534. While Mr. Dovinh is a great court interpreter, he needs to polish up his math skills. That’s not something to boast about.

  7. Slatemag Slatemag March 12, 2010

    But at least he earned more voter contacts than the “more qualified” candidate, Phew Nguyen.

  8. Math Professor Math Professor March 12, 2010

    So, first, you boast Dovinh’s number of votes versus a candidate with 200,000 less people in their district, and now you’re boasting Dovinh’s “voter contacts” with a guy that has never run for office? You guys really do a great job at spinning numbers.

  9. Joe Dovinh Joe Dovinh March 12, 2010

    Dear Dan,

    Obviously, I have good reasons to be suspicious of your motives when you decide to characterize my Q&A session with you as argumentative without describing your own hostile attitude. “It takes two to tango”. Of course, I had to insist on accuracy, especially when you can’t even spell my name correctly– misspelling it at least three times in this posting alone. Since you work for Mr. Prevatt who is a friend of Bolsavik as you state it, it is clear you are not unbiased, and your journalist bent is geared toward attacking people who do not agree with your politics. The truth will come out in the end despite all the “smoke and mirror” of your postings. That being said, thank you for your time and attention, and I would welcome further talks. Finally, if you insist on “equal time”, perhaps you can count the words I post here and demand that the other candidates blog exactly the same number of words.

    Joe Dovinh
    (714) 548-8289

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | March 12, 2010

      My apologies for the typographical errors in the spelling of your last name. I counted four total and have corrected each. But I’ll take issue with yur description of my hostile attitude given that on several ocassions, you didn’t allow me to finish a question before getting hyper defensive. There’s no smoke and mirrors in my post; I read your quotes back to you and you confirmed that they were accurate.

      The equal time issue pertains to broadcast time sir. Surely someone with 20 years of journalism experience knows that the limited broadcast spectrum requires “equal time” be given to political candidates. Equal time does not apply to newspapers nor the web. You may post responses here as much as you’d like. But I stand by this piece as a fair representation of our interview and the quotes are accurate.

      If you want your message to be completely unfiltered by my editorializing, buy an ad.

      • 68th resident 68th resident March 12, 2010

        Truth: Mr. Dovinh writes for a newspaper that nobody reads, and has a show on a TV station that nobody watches. The host just gives away free time slots for anyone who can fill it. I hardly believe Mr. Dovinh is a real “journalist”. Dan, that’s why he doesn’t even know what “equal time” is.

  10. jose s. jose s. March 12, 2010

    wow this dovihn guy has quite the attitude doesnt he? why is it that so many viet candidates or wannabes like dovihn feel the need to kiss the arse of morally bankrupt people like van tran? and just the fact that he aligns himself with communist dina nguyen on his radio show speaks volumes about him. personal injury and workmans comp eh? sounds like a show about ambulance chasers.

  11. Joe Dovinh Joe Dovinh March 12, 2010


    Thanks for the corrected spelling of my name. I truly appreciate that. There are a couple of minor inaccuracies, like the spelling of Professor Bryan D. Jones, with a “y” instead of an “i” and I did not write for any newspaper called The Vietnamese American, but I did tell you about writing for The International Examiner. All in all, your reporting here is as good as any that I have seen in a long time, and I welcome your criticism as well. I doubt if any of us know everything about media law, and I must thank you for your information. Yes, our Q & A didn’t go as smooth as either one of us hoped, but given the political climate, everyone is a bit on edge, and I accept the shortcomings on my part. I think you are doing your readers a wonderful service with this blog. We all need to understand each other better, and this is just as good a place to start as any.

    Joe Dovinh

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski March 15, 2010

      I look forward to the continued dialogue and do hope you felt I gave you a fair shake.

  12. -- -- March 13, 2010

    FANNIE M’ NANNIE! Mr. Dovinh is not the only Vietnamese-American candidate that has been chased down by hostile English language bloggers. If you ask Andrew Do, Dina Nguyen, Janet Nguyen, Andy Quach and Van Tran, they will all tell you that they have had their share of hostile bloggers. Has anyone ever wonder why we don’t see this tone of communication in the mainstream media outlets? There are a handful of bloggers each day trying to put filth, gossips, and defamatory statements into this particular blog and not enough bloggers to cause harm to any candidate in particular. In my opinion, the candidates are beaten down by the bloggers until they give in to buying ads on these blogs as Mr. Chmielewski has harassingly stated, “buy and ad” to Mr. Dovinh.

    Mr. Chmielewski suspicion of Mr. Dovinh is short of saying that he does not believe in one of his own (Democrats). Mr. Chmielewksi may not have given any consideration in that only a liberated person would be able think on his own without any fear of criticisms, including the criticism by Mr. Chmielewski of Mr. Dovinh being a fan of Van Tran. Naturally, the Vietnamese American community is a small community and sometimes too close for comfort. Last week, Mr. Tran was seen talking to Mr. Phu Nguyen. Two months ago, Mr. Tam Cong Le (Ms. Janet Nguyen’s rep) was communicating with Mr. Long Pham, another Republican candidate for the 68th. A month ago, Mr. Mansoor was seen with Ms. Nguyen.

    Mr. Chmielewski contradicts himself when he picks and chooses what Mr. Dovinh has said as the truth. He chose to believe in the friendship between Mr. Dovinh and Mr.Tran while he suspected that Mr. Dovinh’s motive in running was to make the primary “battle expensive”. Expensive for whom? I do not believe that money grows on trees for Mr. Dovinh, or Mr. Nguyen, or Mr Pham, or Mr. Mansoor. Why would Mr. Dovinh want to make his own battle expensive? On what basis does Mr. Chmielewski believe that the primary will be “expensive”? Why did Mr. Chmielewski not post Mr. Dovinh’s response as to his motive for running in the 68th? I hope that Mr. Chmielewski was not too obsessed with Mr. Van Tran and has forgotten to report on what counts-the issues of the 68th.

    Mr. Chmielewski continues to focus and beat on the tie that Mr. Dovinh has with Mr. Tran. If anyone is shocked by this, then I don’t know if you are ready for this news: The chairman of OC Republican Party and the chairman of OC Democratic Party have been seen together at fundraisers for some candidates. It’s NO BIG DEAL! If the BIG bosses of the parties can’t keep their hands off each other, then why even go there with the Viet-Americans? Heck, cross-party relationships are not that sacred to Vietnamese-American politicians, because they all have experienced what could happen when one party has too much power–(communism). Judge Nho Nguyen went from Democrat to DST in the last election. Andrew Do went from Democrat to Republican in support of Janet Nguyen. Tam Cong Le (one of Ms. Nguyen’s staffers) went from Democrat to Republican after his disappointment with the Democratic Party. Sources also have it that he is now unhappy with the Republican Party. Will he switch? Is he planting seeds? Perhaps…Perhaps.

    As far as equal share of time, although Mr. Dovinh did state, “if you insist on equal time”, I do not believe that Mr. Dovinh meant that Mr. Schmielewski was insisting on equal time for himself. I believe that he was referring to Mr. Schmielewski’s comment, “ in my opinion, Phu Nguyen and even Alan Mansoor have every right to demand that any broadcast outlet carrying Mr. Donvinh’s programs provide them with ‘equal time’. “ Mr. Dovinh responded to that comment by posting, “Finally, if you insist on “equal time”, perhaps you can count the words I post here and demand that the other candidates blog exactly the same number of words.” In short, Mr. Schmielewski’s blog is a media outlet where Mr. Nguyen and Mr. Mansoor can ask for “equal time”. I don’t believe that Mr. Dovinh’s usage of the English language is that difficult to understand.

    Mr. Chmielewski, you must be well aware that “equal time” for political candidates does not amount to competing time with a private business. I hope that your unprofessional, hostile “back and forth” with your interviewee, Mr. Dovinh, did not dissuade him from comming back to this site or from other interviews with you. I want to hear from all candidates, and I hope that you will demonstrate unbias, professional, and truthful reporting in all political articles and towards all candidates. God Bless.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski March 15, 2010

      Fannie —
      I believe Mr. Dovinh was more than satisfied with my line on questions and while I made a few spelling mistakes, I certainly quoted him accurately and even he said so himself. And he and I both agree the interview had some argumentative tones.

      The concept of “equal time” applies to over the air programming regulated by the FCC. The broadcast spectrum is limited and owned by the public with license to over the air stations to broadcast programs. “Equal time” does not apply to print or Internet media.

      As far as the comment on the ad goes, anyone knows if you want an unfiltered message to get through to readers/voters where you control every comma, buying an ad is the only way to insure that.

  13. Slatemag Slatemag March 13, 2010

    You now face a real nemesis. Have fun

  14. To the Point To the Point March 29, 2010

    It would appear that much of this blog debate has gone off course. Instead of debating on fair coverage and the attitudes of the candidates, we should be focusing on the issues that the candidates will be facing should they succeed in their elections.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski March 29, 2010

      Well, the comments may have but the post was pretty solid.

Comments are closed.