A Chinese immigrant used WeChat to rally support for her state delegate campaign.

As reported by Datebook, a first-generation Chinese American used WeChat to win a seat in the Maryland statehouse.Democrat Lily Qi decided to run for state delegate after feeling a disconnect from her party. She had experience in politics after working as Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett’s chief administrator, in charge of economic and workforce development.

However, Qi was aware that immigrants were not favoured by politicians in Maryland and were rarely elected.

In order to garner support, Qi reached out the Asian Americana community. She wrote columns in local Chinese-language newspapers and used WeChat to spread her message.

Qi, who grew up in Communist China, understands why other immigrants refrain from voting.  She thus went through voter rolls to find Chinese names, encouraging them to engage in politics.

The 55-year-old also persuaded leaders of the Korean American and Vietnamese American communities to spread her message.

Her work paid off and she was successfully elected as one of three delegates representing legislative District 15 in the General Assembly.

Two other Asian immigrants and 10 other Asian Americans are also representing in Annapolis.

“Democracy is the best system,” she said “But it favors those who participate.”

University of Maryland professor Janelle Wong said Qi drew hundreds of people to engage in political issues through WeChat, as well as raising almost $150,000.

“She is able to communicate across multiple platforms,” Wong said. “It gave her some entree and appeal that few campaigns get . . . when targeting a non-English [speaking] population.”

State Del. David Moon (D-District 20) explained the difficulties in microtargeting the Asian American community.

“We don’t have a common Asian language the way Hispanics do,” Moon said. “Everything breaks down to a specific country.”

State Senator-elect Clarence Lam (D-Howard) said such a campaign is expensive.

“Candidates do outreach to the community because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “But we don’t have the resources to educate and register to vote whose parents immigrated from Taiwan and Hong Kong. They just don’t vote in the elections that matter.”