Indian American woman back in Iowa assembly
Indian American Swati Dandekar, a Democrat who won an upset victory over her Republican contender two years ago to make it to the Iowa state assembly, has been re-elected.
She defeated her opponent Cory Crowley by 10 percentage points. Poll numbers for one more precinct were to come in.
"It feels good. It was a tight race in the sense that Sen. (Charles) Grassley (a Republican) had poured lots of money in my opponent's campaign.
I'm glad I had a good war chest to have radio and TV ads," Dandekar told on telephone.
"The last two and a half weeks my opponent attacked me negatively. He took my record in bits and spun it in a very negative way. But I think the District 36 people like positive campaigning and are highly educated and very progressive and they like you to be fair. They just sent a message that you can't do that," Dandekar added.
She has lived in Iowa for 30 years and has worked on education, children's welfare and immigrant issues. A graduate of Nagpur University and Bombay University, Dandekar is married to Arvind, who runs Fastek International.
Asked what was the first thing she was going to do after her victory, Dandekar said: "I'm going to rest for a while. This year has been very hectic for us. Arvind's father, my father-in-law, passed away and my son got married."
But she said once she goes back to the assembly she will be focusing on "education excellence and economic growth".
Reflecting on Senator John Kerry's links to Indian Americans, Dandekar stressed again that he recognises the contributions of the community and appreciates the culture and heritage.
"And (Kerry) told me he will go to India if he becomes president," she added.
Dandekar's victory is even more important in light of the fact that she was running in a majority Republican district.
She was chosen by Kerry to be co-chair of his Iowa campaign and had promised to deliver the state to him in the presidential election.