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Five prominent Indian-American politicians in race for US Congress in midterm polls

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Five prominent Indian-American politicians are in the race for the US House of Representatives when the country goes for its midterm polls on November 8.

If the pollsters and opinions of political pundits are to be believed, Indian-Americans are likely to have a 100 per cent strike rate for the House of Representatives.

The four incumbents – Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna and Pramila Jayapal – are likely to be re-elected. All four are from the Democratic party.

Adding to the ‘Samosa Caucus’ of Indian-Americans in the House of Representatives would be the entrepreneur and businessman Shri Thanedar, who is seeking his election from the 13th Congressional District of Michigan.

Bera, 57, the seniormost of all, is seeking his sixth term in the House of Representatives from the 7th Congressional District of California.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ami Bera of California

Khanna, 46, who represents the 17th Congressional district from California, Krishnamoorthi, 49, (8th Congressional District of Illinois) and Jayapal, 57, from the 7th Congressional District of Washington State, are seeking their fourth consecutive terms.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna of California

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna of California

Democratic U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois

Democratic U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois

According to political experts, all four are comfortably placed against their Republican opponents. So does Thanedar, 67, who is seeking his maiden entry into the House of Representatives from the heavily African American portion of Detroit.

If elected, he would be the fifth Indian-American in the next Congress along with Bera, Khanna, Krishnamoorthi and Jayapal.

Chennai-born Jayapal is the first ever and only Indian-American woman to be elected to the House of Representatives.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington

Democratic U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington

During this election cycle, another Indian-American seems to be all set to create history in the State of Maryland. Aruna Miller, 57, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, is running as Lt Governor of the State on the Democratic ticket.

Aruna Miller, running as Lt Governor of the State on the Democratic ticket (Courtesy of Aruna Miller for Congress)

Aruna Miller, running as Lt Governor of the State on the Democratic ticket (Courtesy of Aruna Miller for Congress)

Political pundits say she is all set to win. In that case, she would be the first-ever Indian American to be elected to this position in Maryland.

Reaching out

Meanwhile, the Democrats and the Republicans have intensified their efforts to reach out to the Indian-Americans ahead of the November 8 midterm elections.

The Washington Post newspaper on Friday said that Indian-Americans can play an important role in some of the tightly contested races.

In the critical State of Pennsylvania, popular TV host Padma Lakshmi, Phenomenal Media CEO Meena Harris and Jayapal would knock doors in Philadelphia to mobilise the community’s South Asian voters.

“This is the first time we’ve brought together this group of South Asian women leaders from all over the country to mobilise our community around civic engagement,” Harris said.

According to Neil Makhija, Indian-American Impact executive director, in 2016, Pennsylvania was decided by a slim margin of fewer than 45,000 votes.

“This November, we’re determined to show up and show out, just as we did in Georgia, when we doubled turnout. With over 100,000 South Asian American voters in Pennsylvania alone, we have the opportunity to set the direction of the country,” he said.

Currently, Democrats are in the majority due to the tiebreaking power of Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris, who serves ex officio as the president of the Senate.

In his first two years as president, President Joe Biden has pushed through new laws on climate change, gun control, infrastructure investment and child poverty despite his narrow majorities in Congress.

If one of those chambers switched to the Republicans, however, they would have the power to stop Democratic bills from being passed by Congress and the result would be gridlock.

It will decide who controls Congress as well as state legislatures and governor’s offices. But the elections will give voters an opportunity to indirectly express their views on his presidency and the current direction of the country.



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