A record number of 12 Indian-Americans are in the fray for the November 6 mid-term Congressional elections.
Three among them – Hiral Tipirneni and Anita Malik from Arizona and Pramila Jayapal from Washington State – are women.
The first Indian-American woman to enter the US House of Representatives, Jayapal, is seeking re-election from the seventh Congressional district of Washington State. Her victory is considered to be a cake walk, given her popularity and that she represents a Democratic stronghold.
Along with Jayapal, three other Indian-Americans – Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois, Ro Khanna and Dr Ami Bera from California – are seeking re-elections this year. Bera, who was declared winner after recounting of votes in the last three elections, this time faces a tough opponent, Republican Andrew Grant.
He was first elected to the US House of Representatives in 2012, making him the third ever Indian-American to enter the House after Dalip Singh Saund from 1957 to 1963 and Bobby Jindal in 2004.
In 2016, three Indian-Americans – Krishnamoorthi, Khanna and Jayapal – joined Bera in the House of Representatives, which led to the creation of the so called ‘Samosa Caucus’. This year, Krishnamoorthi is pitted against Indian-American Jitender Diganvker of the Republican Party in the eight Congressional District of Illinois. Notably both of them were elected unopposed during the primaries.
Khanna is pitted against Republican Ron Cohen in the 17th Congressional District of California, which is essentially India-American dominated Silicon Valley. Political pundits expect all four of them to sail through this November.
Indian-Americans are giving a tough fight to their opponents in some of the key Congressional districts.
Prominent among them being emergency room physician Hiral Tipirneni in the eighth Congressional District of Arizona and former diplomat Sri Preston Kulkarni in the 22nd Congressional District of Texas.
Running an aggressive campaign, that has caught national attention, Tipirneni seeks to tip the balance in her favour by defeating the Republican incumbent Debbie Lesko, who won the special elections early this year.
Kulkarni resigned from US foreign service to run for the Congress and is giving a tough fight to Republican Pete Olson, who has been one of the proponents of India-US relationship.
Richard Verma, the former US Ambassador to India, Thursday endorsed Kulkarni for the Congress.
“Today more than ever, we need leaders like Sri who will champion diplomatic solutions and put country over politics,” Verma said.
Kulkarni represented the US for 14 years as a Foreign Service Officer with overseas tours in Iraq, Israel, Russia, Taiwan and Jamaica. He then served as a foreign policy and defense advisor on Capitol Hill assisting Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Young Indian-American Aftab Pureval, who is the first person of Tibetan origin to run for the Congress, has received shot in his arm after the recent endorsement by former US President Barack Obama. Pureval is the current Hamilton County Clerk of Courts.
In the eight Congressional District of Florida, incumbent Bill Posey is experiencing a tough fight from Democratic opponent Sanjay Patel. Anita Malik faces Republican incumbent David Schweikert in Arizona’s 6th Congressional District in metro Phoenix.
Harry Arora is the second Indian-American Republican candidate to run for the Congress. Pitted against Democrat Jim Himes, who has been representing the fourth Congressional District of Connecticut, he has a tough challenge at his hand. Arora has raised more than USD 700,000, which is less than half the funds raised by Himes.
Independent Shiva Ayyadurai is the only Indian-American in the race for the US Senate seat from Massachusetts. While he has caught national attention and some media space because of his innovative campaigning skills, it would be nothing less than a miracle if Ayyadurai defeats Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Warren in the Senate election from Massachusetts. Warren is a Democratic Party star and is seen as a strong contender for the party’s presidential ticket in 2020.
It is believed that at least half-a-dozen contenders will sail through next January when lawmakers would be sworn in for the 116th Congress.
In addition to these 12 contestants in the race for the US Congress, there are scores of Indian-Americans running for local elections, including State and County.