PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Five Vietnamese Americans could be representing Oregonians in the state legislature next year — making it a first in Oregon’s history should the current leading results be certified.

Early election results from Wednesday afternoon show that Hoa Nguyen leads in District 48, Daniel Nguyen leads in District 38, Dr. Thuy Tran leads in District 45, Dr. Hai Pham leads in District 36 and incumbent Khanh Pham leads in District 46. 

They all ran as Democrats in districts in Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties that have historically backed blue candidates. 

The five candidates spoke to KOIN 6 News before the election and explained how much their representation in state legislature would mean not only for Vietnamese Americans but for people of color.

“We talk a lot about representation. We talk about inclusivity, but when you are able to have people in leadership that look like you, that have similar backgrounds, it just makes people feel so much more part of the conversation,” said Daniel Nguyen, who’s projected to represent Lake Oswego and Southwest Portland. 

Many of the candidates are children of refugees who moved to America during and after the Vietnam War, in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Rep. Khanh Pham was the first Vietnamese American elected to state legislation in Oregon in 2020. The candidates said the fact that it took that long for Vietnamese Americans to hold political leadership positions is proof of the challenges and bias they’ve faced. 

“I think for the older generation, like my parents, I think they’re really shocked, frankly. They never imagined that their daughter or anyone in our family would ever be able to represent our community in the U.S. government,” Khanh Pham said. 

Now, with four others currently leading their races to potentially join Khanh Pham in the House, the representation of Vietnamese Americans in legislation will be 8%. That’s a greater share than the overall Asian American population in Oregon, which is 6%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

In a statement issued Tuesday night, Tran said she’s proud to stand alongside a record number of other Vietnamese Americans running for office in 2022. 

“This victory doesn’t mean that the fight stops here. Next year’s legislature will face big responsibilities, working to address homelessness, the rising price of housing and health care, climate change, and providing safety for all members of our community. I’m ready to get to work,” she wrote in a statement. 

Rep. Khanh Pham posted to social media Wednesday celebrating her win. 

“I am deeply honored to continue to serve as State Representative of Oregon House District 46 in 2023,” she wrote. “Thank you to the voters and thank you to the 1000s of supporters, volunteers, donors, colleagues, event co-hosts, door knockers, texters, lawn sign supporters, and many, many others.” 

The Associated Press has only called Khanh Pham as the winner in her race. The other candidates are still waiting for final determinations. 

These election counts are only preliminary results. In Oregon, the official election results will be certified by December 5.