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Part III: An Open Letter to My Husband (Former Political Candidate)

To my dearest Hoan,

Many referred to me as “Mrs. Dang” when you were running for County Council (At-Large). I did not take being a candidate’s wife lightly. Even though the political campaign brought chaos into our lives, I walked away from it all with one important lesson: how to be a partner.

You helped me define my identity as a candidate’s spouse in ways I did not expect. You were not shy about discussing with me on how to address sexual harassment issues when the #MeToo Movement emerged. You took it seriously when I shared with you that certain male acquaintances made sexist comments, “mansplained” certain topics, or looked down at my chest when I spoke to them. You never pretended to know what issues impacted women. Instead, you proactively turned to my network of gender experts to identify policy solutions that benefit women, girls, and families. As I look back, I realized you were my male ally in the feminist movement. 

You constantly reminded me in your own way that I was your equal. Your decision to run for office meant that the effort would be OUR campaign and not just yours alone. You told our friends and family members that “we” were running for office. You never hesitated to seek my advice on every single political strategy – even if it was after 1 a.m. and the lights were off.  And whenever there was a major campaign function, you wanted me to have a visible leadership role. You reinforced the fact that I was influential in the campaign and that we were a team.  

The campaign also forced us to tread rough waters together.  There were days we didn’t see eye to eye and disagreed on how to manage the campaign. There were days we questioned if giving up time spent with loved ones and with each other was well worth it. And there were days we were so tired, hungry, and upset that we would lose our temper while trying to meet campaign deadlines. But during those tough times, we were willing to forgive and forgive again. We compromised with each other a lot to achieve our mutual goal to serve the community. Those moments were true tests of our early marriage.

To you, I was more than just your wife on the campaign trail. Thank you for dispelling the gender stereotypes associated with the identity of a political candidate’s wife.  While it was intentional that I did not change my last name to “Dang” when we got married, I’m proud to be your “Mrs. Dang” wherever life takes us.



This is the last of three open letters in the series for Politics Within Politics (PWP). Readers should expect highlights of the upcoming General Election in the months to come. Follow PWP on Twitter @PoliticsWithin


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Tonia Bui

About Tonia Bui

Tonia Bui is currently a strategic communications consultant. Most recently, she served as treasurer for the Hoan Dang for County Council campaign in Montgomery County. Tonia previously served as the Communications Director for the Nguyen for Delegate Campaign (VA-67) in 2013 and led the Asian American voter outreach efforts for the Darcy Burner for Congress Campaign (WA-08) in 2008. Her efforts to build stakeholder engagement stems from her experiences serving as the Member Outreach Assistant to Vice Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-34). She also previously worked for U.S. Senator Barack Obama (IL-13) and California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (CA-12). Her work has been published by the Harvard Asian American Policy Review and cited by scholars of the political science textbook, Campaigns on the Cutting Edge. Tonia holds a Master in Public Policy from American University and a B.A. in Mass Communications and Gender & Women’s Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Read more of Tonia's blog Politics Within Politics.


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