Indian Americans have traditionally not been active in US politics, having minimum political participation and lower voter turnout compared to other minority groups. However, in recent times, their political influence is rapidly growing. With four Congressmen and a US Senator, Indian Americans have made their presence felt in Washington, DC.
Californians elected Kamala Harris as the state’s first new U.S. Senator in 24 years, she also became the first Indian American ever elected to the Senate with her victory. Rep. Ami Bera, who was the lone Indian American serving in the House of Representatives, defeated Republican Scott Jones in his reelection bid from the state of California. Bera will be joined by three other Indian Americans when he enters the chamber at the beginning of January’s new session. Fremont attorney Ro Khanna, in his second battle with incumbent Mike Honda and in his third attempt at a congressional seat, has emerged victorious against the eight-term congressman.
Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi won the Illinois 8th Congressional District race against Republican Peter DiCianni. Krishnamoorthi and DiCianni were both trying to win the seat vacated by Tammy Duckworth, who won Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat Tuesday night. Pramila Jayapal defeated Brady Walkinshaw Tuesday in Washington’s 7th Congressional District.
By winning the seat occupied since 1988 by retiring U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, Jayapal becomes the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress. The 52-year-old state senator, whose campaign carried the endorsement of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, had 57 percent in Tuesday returns in the Seattle-area clash featuring two Democrats. Both candidates referenced the U.S. presidential contest Tuesday night. Jayapal said the result of her race means the 7th District can be “a light in the darkness” if Donald Trump emerged triumphant. “If our worst fears are realized, we will be on the defense as of tomorrow,” she told supporters. “We will have to fight for social justice as never before.”
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, although not South Asian American has had the support of this community due to her Hindu faith. She cruised to re-election Tuesday night, demolishing opponent Angela Kaaihue by more than 50 percent of the vote. Gabbard, the lone Hindu American in the House of Representatives, finished the night by collecting 82 percent of the vote. Kaaihue received 19,000 votes, or 18 percent.
Assemblyman Prasad Srinivasan (R) won 65% against Matt Saunig (D) 32% at the polls last week. Incumbent Prasad Srinivasan won the 31st District State House in race in Connecticut on Tuesday.
In statewide elections, Indian Americans Prasad Srnivasan, (R;CT); Ash Kalra, D-Calif.; Niraj Antani, R-Ohio; and Jay Chaudhuri, D-N.C., were victorious in their respective elections to statewide offices in the elections held on November 8th.
Dr. Prasad Srinivasan (Dr. S) is a long time resident of the town of Glastonbury. He has been practicing in Glastonbury and the Hartford area for over 30 years. He treats pediatric and adult patients with allergies. Prasad Srinivasan has diverse interests and accomplishments. On November 4th 2014, Prasad Srinivasan was elected to his third term as the State Representative of the 31st Assembly District. He is a member of the General Assembly’s Public Health, Finance Revenue & Bonding , and Planning and Development Committees. Prasad Srinivasan was chief pediatric resident at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. He did his fellowship in allergy and immunology at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. He is a graduate of Baroda Medical College in India. He is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.
San Jose Councilman Ash Kalra told NBC Bay Area he became the first Indian American to serve in the California legislature, after his opponent, Madison Nguyen, texted him Friday to concede. Kalra, a law professor at Lincoln Law School of San Jose, had been leading in the polls since Election Day as the front-runner in the hotly contested race for the state’s 27th Assembly District. The two were competing to replace termed-out Assemblywoman Nora Campos. “We’ve had a great turnaround! Waiting for final results,” Kalra tweeted. “Friends, votes are being counted & we have a lead of over 4,000,” Kalra added.
Niraj Antani, 25, voted as the second most influential Republican under the age of 30 by Newsmax earlier this year defeated his Democratic rival Merris handily in the election, receiving 63 percent of the vote to Merris’ 37 percent. “I am truly honored to have been reelected as the state representative for the 42nd Ohio House District,” Antani said following the victory. “I look forward to returning to the Ohio House of Representative as its only Indian American member, and continuing my fight for the American Dream. I am looking forward to continuing my fight in the Ohio House of Representatives so that all Ohioans can have the opportunity to achieve their American Dream,” he said in a statement.
A graduate of Ohio State University, receiving a bachelor’s in political science, as well as a juris doctorate degree from the University of Dayton School of Law, Antani was previously the communications director for the Ohio State University College Republicans during the 2012 presidential election, as well as the chair for the Young Americans for Romney in Ohio.
Jay Chaudhuri, a rising star in the Democratic party, is another Indian American who convincingly held his seat by defeating Eric Weaver 65 percent to 35 percent in North Carolina’s 16th District. “Yes, the last 48 hours have been really hard for Democrats. But, we must respect the integrity of our election process,” Chaudhuri said in a Nov. 10 Facebook post. “Let us move forward. And, let us roll up our sleeves to do the hard work on behalf of all Americans and all North Carolinians.”