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Ami Bera, only Indian American in US Congress, wins close race

world Updated: Nov 20, 2014 23:33 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Ami Bera

Ami Bera, the only Indian American in US Congress, won a second term late Wednesday night, surviving a close contest that looked capable of going either way at any time.

Bera, a Democrat, led Republican challenger Doug Ose by 1,432 votes Wednesday night — 92,394 to 90,962, out of 190,216 counted, according to state election officials.

Ose conceded late early Friday morning.

Bera was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012 on a Democratic ticket, becoming only the third Indian American ever elected to US congress.

Dalip Singh Saund, also from California, was the first, and Bobby Jindal, now governor of Louisiana state with purported plans to run for the White House in 2016, was the second.

Bera ended the election day several thousands votes behind his Republican challenger, but he was not unduly perturbed. He was in a similar spot in 2012, and had won in the end.

He didn’t concede and Ose didn’t claim victory. Thousands of early and postal ballots were still to be counted, and California 07, their constituency, was always a close contest.

In fact, local media reports suggest California 07 was also the costliest race in the 2014 mid-term elections with millions poured in by both sides, over $20 million from outside groups.

The rivals landed up in Washington DC this week for the swearing in of the coming congress. But not to watch their colleagues; to signal they had had not conceded the contest.

Bera survived, and won. But his victory will make no difference to the overall position of the Democratic party in the House of Representatives, taking up their tally by one.

Republicans kept control of the House and captured the Senate.

But Bera’s win will count for the Indian American community.

“First and foremost the community in California's 7th congressional district won tonight,” said Mini Timmaraju, national president of National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and former chief of staff to Bera.

“But this is also a huge win for Indian Americans everywhere and for the US-India relationship,” she added.