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‘Samosa Caucus’ fails to increase its strength in US midterm elections

None of the more than half a dozen new Indian Americans candidates, many of whom caught national attention by giving tough fight to their opponents and outraising them in the fund raisers, could make it to the House of Representatives, which is equivalent to Lok Sabha in the Indian parliament.

world Updated: Nov 07, 2018 20:35 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
US midterm elections,Midterm elections,US
Democrat for Congress candidate Sri Kulkarni, center, listens to supporters attending a fundraiser for him in Houston. Kulkarni lost to his GOP incumbent Pete Olson from the 22nd Congressional District of Texas.(AP File Photo)

The so-called ‘Samosa Caucus’ - an informal group of the Indian-Americans in the US Congress - failed to increase its strength, even as its all four incumbent members were re-elected to the House of Representatives in the highly polarised midterm elections held Tuesday.

None of the more than half a dozen new Indian Americans candidates, many of whom caught national attention by giving tough fight to their opponents and outraising them in the fund raisers, could make it to the House of Representatives, which is equivalent to Lok Sabha in the Indian parliament.

However, Indian-Americans picked up more seats in the State assemblies. The community sent its member Ram Villivalam for the first time to the Illinois Senate and also elected a Muslim Indian-American Mujtaba Mohammed to the North Carolina State Senate.

Chicago-born Villivalam, elected unopposed, became the first Asian-American State Senator and the first South Asian-American member of Illinois General Assembly ever.

For the first time, more than 100 Indian-Americans had entered the race in this mid-term elections, of which over 50 were on the ballot on Tuesday.

Among them 12, including four incumbents, were running for the House and one for the Senate - a record in itself.

In the eighth Congressional District of Illinois, Raja Krishnamoorthi defeated his Republican Indian-American rival Jitender Diganvker. Krishnamoorthi would serve second term in the House of Representatives.

Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian American to be elected to the House of Representatives in 2016, registered her second consecutive win from the seventh Congressional District of Washington State. In little less than two years, she has emerged nationally as the champion of immigrants, workers and human rights.

Ro Khanna easily sailed through the race for the House from the 17th Congressional District of California by defeating his GOP rival Ron Cohen. He was elected for the first time in 2016.

Three-term Congressman Ami Bera, the senior-most among lawmakers in the Samosa Caucus, defeated his Republican rival Andrew Grant in the seventh Congressional District of California.

Notably, his previous three electoral victories came only after recounting of votes which took several weeks before the results were finally declared.

Indian-American of Tibetan descent Aftab Pureval, 35, lost to GOP incumbent Steve Chabot. He was the first Democrat to get elected as the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in more than 100 years.

Indian-American woman Anita Malik lost to her Republican incumbent in the sixth District of Arizona, while Hiral Tipirneni was trailing behind GOP rival Debbie Lesko in the early tabulations.

Former state department diplomat Sri Preston Kulkarni lost to his GOP incumbent Pete Olson from the 22nd Congressional District of Texas.

A five-time incumbent, Rep Olson defeated his Indian-American Democratic challenger in the most heated 22nd Congressional District that the opposition had hoped to flip due to a large Asian-American population.

The 40-year-old relied heavily on his ability to connect with the district’s diverse population to give Democrats hope that he could pull off an upset in the district. About 20 per cent of the population in the district is of Asian heritage - more than any other district in Texas.

Sanjay Patel, who runs a successful consulting business, lost to Republican Congressman Bill Posey, who has been winning the eighth Congressional District of Florida continuously since 2009.

In the first Congressional District of Arkansas, Democratic Chintan Desai lost to Republican incumbent Rick Crawford, while Republican Harry Arora lost to incumbent Jim Himes in the fourth Congressional District of Connecticut.

Successful entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai, who fought the Massachusetts Senate race as an independent, came a distant third. Democratic leader Elizabeth Warren registered a comprehensive win over her Republican rival Geoff Diehl to re-enter the US Senate.

Democratic Nima Kulkarni defeated Joshua Neubert from the GOP to make her maiden entry into the Kentucky Assembly from State District 40. A practicing and recognised lawyer, she owns Indus Law Firm specialising in immigration, employment and business law.

Mujtaba Mohammed entered the North Carolina State Senate from the Senate District 38. A former staff attorney at the Council for Children’s Rights and assistant public defender, Mohammed defeated Richard Rivette.

Incumbent Jay Chaudhuri, an accomplished entrepreneur, was re-elected to North Carolina Senate from the State Senate District 15.

Republican Niraj Atani, 27, registered his third consecutive electoral victory from Ohio House 42nd District. He is the youngest Indian-American elected official in the US. He is also the second Indian-American state elected official in Ohio history, and the first Indian-American Republican.

“Representing the community in which I was born and raised is an incredible honour. I work hard every day to make it achievable for all Ohioans to have the opportunity to make their American Dream a reality,” Atani said in a statement.

In Washington State, Manka Dhingra and Vandana Slatter were re-elected for the State Senate. Among others re-elected at the State level are Sabi Kumar in Tennessee and Ash Kalra (California). The emergence of a large number of young Indian-Americans candidates reflects the growing desire of this small ethnic community comprising just one per cent of the US population of 32.57 crores.

First Published: Nov 07, 2018 20:24 IST