“My dad doesn’t sleep. He doesn’t need sleep. My dad is a machine,” Jerry Lin declared at his father’s jam-packed campaign headquarters during the early evening hours of Tuesday, November 6.
“The machine,” former San Marino City Councilman and Mayor Mathew Lin, was busy working the room, thanking volunteers, posing for pictures, one eye nervously veering off to see if the vote tally was updating on the large overhead screen that hung along the east wall of a San Gabriel office rental.
A year ago this week, Lin kicked off what ended up as a long, arduous (and no doubt expensive) run at California’s 49th Assembly seat, a constituency that includes El Monte, Alhambra, Temple City, Rosemead, San Gabriel, Monterey Park, San Gabriel and San Marino. The orthopedic surgeon, philanthropist and businessman was the top vote-getter in June’s open primary when he received 52% of the tally, but dropped a surprisingly one-sided decision to Democrat Ed Chau on that sleepless night when his chad was punched on just over 43% of the ballots following a campaign that turned downright nasty as election day neared.
Chau accused Lin of financial misappropriation and even dragged out an old lien against one of Lin’s former business ventures that had long been settled. A Chau mailer included the Social Security number of Lin’s wife, Joy, which resulted in the award of a restraining order against the Democrat and his campaign staff.
Ironically, Lin said he was undone by that party’s “machine,” which churned into full pace as the days were circled off the calendar.
“This was God’s will,” Lin told The Tribune. “He must be planning something for me.”
Lin thanked his army of volunteers who worked long hours, days, weeks and months to send him off to Sacramento.
“My friends were so supportive and worked so hard, but they had a good machine,” Lin said, that word circling back from his own son’s mouth some six weeks in the fog of the past. “I overlooked that the union was able to have such an influence in the election. The Democrats had an agenda they wanted to pass. The unions cornered voters and that was a big problem for us. But I take full responsibility for the outcome.”
Democrat campaign workers allegedly told young voters that Lin was trying to deport students who weren’t fully documented American citizens.
“They were able to spread a lot of rumors about me, especially in Monterey Park,” said Lin of the allegations. “It was ridiculous. It’s difficult to fight against all these things. I tried to tell my side of the story but it’s tough to get the word out.”
After the pedestrian campaign strategies used at the local level that typically include a few coffees and an occasional picnic, was Lin surprised at the dirty politics he encountered at the State level?
“I know that state politics would bring something more dirty.” said Lin. “But I was naive. I was prepared for some dirty tricks, but some of the accusations were just terrible. They brought up the old tax lien that was released fifteen years ago. They had put out seven or eight campaign pieces against me using incorrect information. I explained what was going on, but there were many people who had no knowledge that it was inaccurate information. That machine again. A state campaign is different. It was very difficult, From Day One, it was difficult to fight against the machine. It was very interesting. I learned a lot. Our people need a lot of help in California to improve the quality of life. This election was totally different from the San Marino. We are such a small community. Someone spread rumors about me back in the first election and it was easy to handle. In the state election, there are 200,000 voters. It’s hard to fight that. I overlooked the impact.”
Lin said his wife is “very happy it is over.”
“She said ‘I get my husband back!’” he quipped. “Joy was very, very supportive. She did so much and kept our volunteers happy and well-fed. I owe her a lot. Both of us understand this community better and we love the community more because of the experience. I really grew to love other towns as well. El Monte has beautiful homes and beautiful people who have been living there for years. I understand and respect the other communities much more.”
San Marino’s former mayor said “the Democrats and the unions are much better prepared. My opponent didn’t do a whole lot. He disappeared for a while. But the union machine came in and grinded for the last couple weeks of the campaign. They have done this for the last twenty years and they know how to do it well. In the end, when I walked the streets, I had a good feeling that many people would vote for me. But the union machine was able to mobilize the people to vote for a candidate they didn’t know. They are very organized. They could get a monkey elected.”
Lin didn’t say whether or not he got caught up on all that lost sleep after the election, but he did sneak in a Santa Cruz Island fishing trip, is back playing an occasional card game, took a lot of phone calls and “did a lot of praying to receive the will of God. Joy and I sat down and looked at the campaign and thanked the people who helped us so much. It took a few weeks to wrap it up.”
Lin said he’s “not really” tired and has been back to work, performing some “small surgeries.”
Would he ever consider another run?
“I never say never,” he responded. “When I was a twenty-year-old intern, I said I never wanted to be a surgeon. But that changed. I want to serve people and make their lives better. If I got elected I could have done more. But I will find ways to contribute. If I can find a way to beat the union (laughed). I would be happy to help someone else who wants to run and I will continue to do something to serve our community.”
“I still have so many people to thank,” Lin continued. “The volunteers. They came to headquarters every day, walked the street. I really owe them a lot. I am sorry I disappointed a lot of friends. We put up a strong campaign and placed a good message in front of the community. Education and jobs. Very important. Even though I didn’t get elected, I want to work in the community. We are all the same, union members, business people. We are one generation and we need better education so we can compete. San Marino has a beautiful high school, the students are so well-prepared for college, but so many other communities throughout the state are much more challenged.”
“But that’s life – I received a lot of support and advice. I learned a lot,” and Lin was off to the next big thing.
(2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)