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Asian American council candidate fights Communist rumors


The only Asian-American candidate for Lexington council is pushing back against a “whisper” campaign calling the chef and political newcomer a “Communist.”

In an opinion piece in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Dan Wu, 48, who is one of six people running in the city-wide Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council at-large race, said someone has dug up two old photos of him from his social media accounts to try to falsely paint him as a Communist.

“I am not a Communist. In my 48 years of life, 40 of them spent living in the United States, I never thought I had to utter these words,” Wu wrote.

The first photo is from seven years ago. Wu said he was in an Army Surplus store and he is standing in front of a former U.S. Soviet flag.

The second photo was from nine years ago.

“I’m wearing a shirt called Video Game Revolution, an illustrated fist made up of lots of video game controllers. The picture being circulated was also cropped. What did they crop out? My legs attempting to walk on stilts,” Wu wrote. “The whole picture is ridiculous and silly and the people who cropped it knew it.”

Wu finished second in the May primary for the at-large race. Councilman Chuck Ellinger III finished first. Wu faces Ellinger, Councilmen James Brown, Richard Moloney, former Councilman Bill Farmer Jr., and Lillie Miller Johnson in the Nov. 8 general election.

The top vote getter becomes the vice mayor. The second and third place finishers serve as at-large members for four years.

Wu, a first-time political candidate, suspects his better-than-expected finish in May prompted the photos and the rumors to start circulating.

In an interview, Wu said he first heard about the photos in early June from a friend. He heard about it again from other council candidates running this fall. And then recently, an email was sent to Mayor Linda Gorton and the 15-member council that included the photos and repeated the lie Wu was a Communist.

“My campaign manager and I have debated this,” Wu said. “We didn’t want to give this more oxygen than it deserves.”

Yet, a campaign worker who was canvassing for Wu was recently asked by a voter if Wu was a Communist. Wu ultimately decided to write an opinion piece to stop the lies and misinformation.

“The last thing I want to do is talk about this,” Wu said in an interview.

Wu blasted the attempts to paint him as a Communist as racist. It’s also offensive. His family left China to escape Communism.

“But beneath it lies a virulent strain of racism and xenophobia, however subtle or subconscious,” Wu wrote. “ My family and I immigrated from China in the 80s, when I was just a kid. We came to the United States to escape Communism and make a better life for ourselves here. It’s the quintessential American story. To be accused of being a Communist is downright offensive to me and my family.”

Wu’s family first moved from China to Fargo, North Dakota, and later moved to Lexington. He is a graduate of Henry Clay High School and the University of Kentucky.

Wu, a chef and restaurateur, is also an activist, advocating for immigrants and refugees. He has created such campaigns as “I am a Kentuckian” and “Refugees and Immigrants Belong Here.” He has also hosted several podcasts and radio shows.

Beth Musgrave has covered government and politics for the Herald-Leader for more than a decade. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked as a reporter in Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington D.C.





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