Indian-origin Harris to announce run for US senate

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Jan 13, 2015 14:25 IST

Indian-American Kamala Harris will announce on Tuesday she is running for US senate, making it a first for a community aggressively pursuing political power in recent years.

If Harris wins, she will be the first Indian-American in the senate, and fourth ever in congress behind House representatives Dalip Singh Saund, Bobby Jindal and Ami Bera.

"This isn't a trial balloon," an aide to Harris who asked for anonymity told The Sacramento Bee, a local news organisation in California. "This is a takeoff."

Harris, currently attorney general in California, is expected to run for a senate seat vacated by incumbent Barbara Boxer, who recently announced her intention to retire.

Every US state sends two representatives to the senate, elected directly by the people for a term of six years. They are known to go on - Boxer completed 22 years in 2015.

Harris is the daughter of an African-American father and Indian-origin mother, so she is also defined at times by descent on her father's side, as an African American.

Harris, who has been called the "Female Obama", was born to Jamaican-American father, Donald Harris, and Indian-American mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris.

Shyamala Gopalan is from Chennai. Kamala Harris remembers visiting her mother's family many times while growing up, and walks on the beach with her grandfather.

President Barack Obama described her as the best looking attorney general in 2014 during a tour of the state, but promptly apologised in the face of an immediate backlash.

They are friends, the White House followed up immediately.

Speculation about Harris took off, in fact, soon after Boxer, who remained the junior senator with just a year short of Senator Dianne Feinstein's 23, announced her resignation.

But there were others in line for a elected position considered a steal for any Democrat: California is a hugely Democratic state, and the party is almost certain to keep this senate position.

A front-runner for the job, Lt-Governor Gavin Newsom, took himself out of the race on Sunday and Harris was the first person to know - they are friends, vacationing together occasionally.

There are still others who are seriously considering a run.

For the moment, though, Harris is the only one in.

The election is in 2016, year the country will also elect a new president to succeed Barack Obama. Another Indian-American, Bobby Jindal, is considering that race. But he is yet to announce.

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