Blong Xiong, Hmong congressional candidate in California, campaigns for cash in St. Paul

Blong Xiong seeks to become the first Hmong American to serve in Congress. A Democrat, he's running to represent California's 21st District, located near Fresno.

But instead of campaigning around Fresno, Xiong spend Saturday at St. Paul Hmong Village. It was his second trip to St. Paul in recent months.

In an unusual twist, the support of St. Paul's Hmong community is key to Xiong's electoral prospects. He's running both to represent the Fresno area and America's politically underrepresented Hmong population.

During his stop in Minnesota, Xiong, 42,  said, "every culture that has called America home has been able to contribute and help this country so it's our turn."

KARE 11 talked to some Hmong St. Paul residents who are excited to open their checkbooks for Xiong. Achi Vang, a business owner in Hmong Village, said Xiong is "not just representing California, he's definitely representing all the Hmong here in Minnesota too."

Hairstylist Kally Xiong said, "all the Hmong people will be very happy for him" if he's elected.

Xiong currently serves on Fresno's City Council. He's competing with John Hernandez, chief executive of the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, for the 21st District's Democratic nomination.

Since Hispanics make up half of the 21st District's voting age population, Xiong faces an uphill battle. But with over 236,000 representation-hungry Hmongs in the United States, Xiong should be able to raise funds throughout the country.

St. Paul's Frogtown and East Side areas, with one of the nation's largest Hmong communities and no other sizable immigrant population to divide the vote, seems like a natural constituency for America's first Hmong Congressperson. It's something for Xiong, or another Hmong leader, to consider if his campaign isn't successful this time around.

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