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Mixed fortunes for Indian American hopefuls

world Updated: Nov 06, 2008 11:45 IST
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Indian American Ashwin Madia lost a hard-fought contest for the US House of Representatives from Minnesota’s 3rd district, which includes the suburbs of Minneapolis. The 30-year-old attorney and Iraq war veteran was seeking to become only the third person of Indian descent to be elected to Congress.

Madia, a Democrat, secured 41 per cent of the votes in the three-cornered contest, while the winner, long-time Republican state Representative Erik Paulsen, got 49 per cent. The campaign, replete with negative ads including some critics described as having racial overtones, was the most expensive for a Congressional seat from Minnesota this year. About $8 million was spent on TV ads alone, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

Indian Americans running for state legislatures met with mixed fortunes, with those seeking re-election or a move from one chamber to the other winning while the newcomers lost.

Twenty-seven-year-old engineer Jay Goyal, a Democrat, was re-elected to the Ohio House of Representatives from Mansfield and adjacent areas of Richland county between Columbus and Cleveland. He defeated Republican David D. Nitzsche by 17,309 votes to 10,110.

Harvard-trained lawyer Raj Goyle, 33, defeated Republican Fred Pinaire in Wichita in south-central Kansas to keep his seat in the state House of Representatives. The Democrat garnered 6,005 votes to Pinaire’s 2,969.

Republican Nikki Randhawa Haley, 36, was re-elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from Lexington county. She overwhelmed Democrat Edgar Gomez, an air force veteran, by 16,348 votes to 3,283. Haley is chief financial officer of her family’s clothing company, Exotica International.

Democrat Swati Dandekar, who served in the Iowa House earlier, was elected to the state Senate. She defeated Republican Joe Childers 20,512 votes to 17,283. Dandekar, now 57, was the first Indian-born American citizen to win a state legislature seat.

In overwhelmingly Democratic San Francisco, Republican Harmeet K. Dhillon lost her California Assembly bid to Democrat Tom Ammiano.

In Assembly District 2 bordering Oregon, Democrat Paul R. Singh, 55, lost to Republican Jim Nielsen. Singh, a retired millwright and farmer, polled 49,384 votes to Nielsen's 92,524.

Architect Yatin ‘Tony’ Patel, Democrat, lost his bid to unseat Republican Charles E. Martin Jr. in the Georgia General Assembly.