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NRI candidates hope to buck US trend

world Updated: Jul 15, 2010 01:04 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

California Democrat Ami Bera is trying to become just the third Indian-American ever to be elected to the US House of Representatives and even though he may be contesting a Republican-held seat in what analysts describe as a “Republican year”, he is hoping to leverage an anti-incumbency, anti-Washington mood nationwide against his opponent.

And there may be much to buoy his hopes. Recently, the National Republican Congressional Committee or NRCC identified that opponent, sitting Representative Dan Lundgren as among the most vulnerable Republican candidates during the 2010 midterm elections on November 4.

One reason is that Lundgren is suffering what is an American trend of discontent with their elected officials in Washington.

“There is very much an anti-incumbency sentiment, a very large level of dissatisfaction that all political leadership seems to be failing,” Bera, a physician by training, said in a telephonic interview.

While the NRCC has shown concern over Lundgren’s chances, contrarily, the Democratic national leadership has identified that particular seat as one that the Democrats could wrest from the Republicans, a Red to Blue constituency, even in a difficult year for Democrats.

Bera’s campaign has also looked at hot button national topics to hit out at Lundgren.

Recently the Republican Study Committee, of which Lundgren is a member, attacked the Obama Administration’s agreement with BP for $20 billion in compensation funds for the Gulf oil disaster as an example of “Chicago-style shakedown politics.”

Bera fired back, “Lundgren had a choice to stand up for his constituents, American taxpayers and those in the Gulf who are affected by this disaster, but instead Lundgren chose to back his groups’ incomprehensible defense of BP and his friends in the oil and gas industry.”

Bera is not the only Indian-American hopeful for the US Congress who is hoping to ride the anti-incumbency wave to the White House.

Among the other vulnerable incumbents identified by the NRCC is Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania. Gerlach’s opponent in November will be Indian-American Democrat Manan Trivedi.

Like Bera, Trivedi is also a physician and he is also focusing on the prevailing anti-Washington mood to attack Gerlach.

There has been no Indian-American Representative ever since Republican Bobby Jindal quit his seat to become Governor of Louisiana.