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Indian-American set to beat odds

india Updated: Jul 25, 2010 23:56 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

Indian-American hopeful for the US House of Representatives Dr. Ami Bera appears to be bucking a national trend for Democrats when it comes to campaign fund-raising, as he is the only challenger from the party who has raised more money during the last quarter than the incumbent Republican opponent.

And Dr Bera, a physician, is getting heavy support in this respect from the Indian-American community throughout the United States, as he attempts to wrest the House seat from California over sitting Republican Dan Lundgren.

In a statement after the April to June quarter fund-raising numbers were released, Dr. Bera's campaign manager Lucinda Guinn, said that the campaign "had achieved yet another tremendous fundraising quarter, raising $ 339,309. Dr. Bera has now raised $ 1.56 million, and the campaign has $ 1.14 million cash on hand.

This marks the fifth consecutive quarter that Dr. Bera has out raised his opponent."

Indian-Americans have played a significant role in this regard. An analysis of campaign disclosure documents available with the US Federal Election Commission, indicates that nearly half the individual contributions to Dr. Bera's campaign came from the community. In a recent telephonic interview, Dr. Bera agreed that Indian-Americans were rallying around his campaign, as he said, "There is certainly a sense of excitement and pride within the community."

He also pointed out that of the about 1700 volunteers associated with his campaign, many were Indian-American high school and college students.

The contributors from the community are not limited to just California, but hail from all over the United States, from New York and New Jersey to Arizona, Washington State, Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, Illinois and elsewhere.

Just as South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley has been backed by national Indian-American lobbying groups like the Indian American Republican Council's Political Action Committee, Dr. Bera has received support from the Washington-based Indian American Leadership Initiative Political Action Committee. Supporters have included the likes of Silicon Valley figure Kanwal Rekhi, one of the founders of The Indus Entrepreneurs.

The national media has taken note of Dr. Bera's fund-raising prowess. Politico described him as the Democrats' "own star fundraiser on the challenger circuit."

National Journal's Hotline pointed out that during the previous quarter just one Republican incumbent, Dr. Bera's rival Dan Lundgren, had trailed his challenger.