Four Indian-Americans re-elected, over dozen others taste victory in US midterm polls

Four Indian-American Congressmen from the Democratic party were re-elected to the US House of Representatives and more than a dozen others won various other races across the country in the highly polarised midterm elections held on Tuesday.

In the eighth Congressional District of Illinois, Raja Krishnamoorthi was re-elected for the second term by a comfortable margin of more than 30 percentage points. He defeated his Indian American Republican opponent J D Diganvker.

Three-term lawmaker Dr Ami Bera was re-elected for a record fourth consecutive time from the seventh Congressional District of California. Unlike the previous three elections, Bera did not had to wait for weeks for recounting of votes. He defeated Andrew Grant of the Republican party by a small five percentage margin.

In the Silicon Valley, Indian-American Ro Khanna defeated Ron Cohen of the Republican party with a massive 44 percentage point in the 17th Congressional District of California. “Tonight was a great night for our campaign and for Democrats across the country. I’m grateful to the voters of #CA17 for giving me the opportunity to continue to represent you in Congress. This has been the honour of my life,” Khanna said.

“With Democrats in control of the House, we will push for economic and foreign policy populism,” he said.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the only Indian-American woman lawmaker in the House of Representatives, defeated her GOP rival Craig Keller by a massive 66 percentage points.

“The American people voted to put the Democrats back in control of the US House of Representatives. Now, we are primed to restore the balance of power between the branches of government and push back even more strongly against the Trump administration’s deeply destructive policies. Our communities are sick and tired of the corruption and injustice,” Jayapal said in her victory speech in Seattle.

“With new and diverse voices joining our ranks, we are building a movement that truly represents the people of this country,” she said.

None of the more than half a dozen new Indian Americans candidates, many of whom caught national attention by giving tough fight to their opponents and outraising them in the fund raisers, could make it to the House of Representatives, which is equivalent to Lok Sabha in the Indian parliament.

However, Indian-Americans picked up more seats in the State assemblies.

In Wisconsin State, Democratic Josh Kaul created history by becoming the first Indian-American to win the race for Attorney General by defeating incumbent Brad Schimel of the Republican Party.

Democratic Nima Kulkarni defeated Joshua Neubert from the GOP to make her maiden entry into the Kentucky Assembly from State District 40. A practicing and recognised lawyer, she owns Indus Law Firm specialising in immigration, employment and business law.

Amish Shah made his maiden entry into the Arizona Assembly from State Legislature District 24. So did, Kevin Thomas from the New York Senate District 6 for the New York State Assembly.

Mujtaba Mohammed entered the North Carolina State Senate from the Senate District 38. A former staff attorney at the Council for Children’s Rights and assistant public defender, Mohammed defeated Richard Rivette.

Incumbent Jay Chaudhuri, an accomplished entrepreneur, was re-elected to North Carolina Senate from the State Senate District 15.

Republican Niraj Atani, 27, registered his third consecutive electoral victory from Ohio House 42nd District. He is the youngest Indian-American elected official in the US. He also is the second Indian-American state elected official in Ohio history, and the first Indian-American Republican.

In Washington State, Manka Dhingra and Vandana Slatter were re-elected for the State Senate. Among others re-elected at the State level are Sabi Kumar in Tennessee and Ash Kalra (California) and Kumar Bharve from Maryland.

Juli Mathew won the Fort Bend City Court at Law No 3 in Texas, K P George won the race for Fort Bend County Judge in Texas and Shalini Bahl-Milne for the Amherst Town Council District 4 in Massachusetts.

The emergence of a large number of young Indian-Americans candidates reflects the growing desire of this small ethnic community comprising just one per cent of the US population of 32.57 crores.

“It was a good night for Indian American candidates. We re-elected every incumbent, including all four members of the US House of Representatives, and also elected at least six new state legislators, four of whom will be the very first ever elected to that office in Kentucky, New York, Illinois, and Arizona,” Gautam Raghavan from the “Impact” organisation told PTI after the election results were declared.

“Perhaps our biggest win of the evening was Josh Kaul winning his campaign for attorney general of Wisconsin, which makes him the only Indian American to serve in statewide office today,” he said. However, none of the dozen other Indian Americans running for the Congress could be win their races.

“I know some may be disappointed that we weren’t able to elect any new Members of Congress, but each of them outperformed prior challengers in their districts,” he said.

“It’s also worth remembering that most Members of Congress — including Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, and Raja Krishnamoorthi – lost their first campaigns, so we hope to see them on the ballot again in future years,” Raghavan, a former Obama Administration official, said in response to a question.

First Published: Nov 07, 2018 23:31 IST

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