World America 09 Nov 2016 Record 5 Indian-Amer ...

Record 5 Indian-Americans set to be elected to US Congress

Published Nov 9, 2016, 12:50 pm IST
Updated Nov 9, 2016, 12:55 pm IST
(L to R) Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna. (Photo: AP)
 (L to R) Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna. (Photo: AP)

Washington: An unprecedented 'desi' wave hitthe US general elections as a record number of five Indian-Americans were all set to be elected to the US Congress today.

Indian-American women put up a good show in the 2016 elections, with Kamala Harris, 51, a two-term attorney general from California, creating history by winning the US Senate seat from the state.

Pramila Jayapal, 51, won the Congressional seat from Seattle to enter the House of Representatives, the first Indian-American woman to accomplish this feat.

Jayapal would be joined in the House of Representatives by Raja Krishnamoorthi, who made it to the highest citadel of democracy in their second attempt.

Ro Khanna and Ami Bera were leading in the race for the House of Representatives from their districts in California.

With 56 per cent of the votes counted in California's Silicon Valley, Democratic Congressman Bera was leading with 54 per cent votes at 47,427, ahead of his Republican party rival Scott Jones who got 46 per cent votes.

If elected for the third successive term, Bera would become the longest serving Indian American Congressman ever.

Khanna, the democratic party candidate from California’s 17th District, was leading with 58 per cent votes at 50,952 after 72 per cent of the votes were counted.

His closest rival Mike Honda, also of the Democratic Party, had so far garnered 42 per cent of the votes.

Interestingly, the outgoing US President Barack Obama had endorsed Harris, Krishnamoorthi and Bera.

Senator Bernie Sanders and former US President Jimmy Carter had endorsed Jayapal.

Harris, who was born in Oakland, California, is the daughter of an Indian mother who emigrated from Chennai in 1960 and a Jamaican American father.

California Democrats had overwhelmingly endorsed Harris for US Senate, solidifying her front-runner status in the race to become California?s next Senator.

Endorsing Harris, Obama had said "Kamala Harris fights for us. Thats why I am so proud to endorse her for United States Senator. And if you send her to the Senate, she'll be a fearless fighter for the people of California, all the people of California, every single day."

Jayapal entered the US Congress on her maiden try.

Born in Chennai, she left India at the age of five for Indonesia, Singapore and eventually for the US.

Jayapal says her life transformed for the better after she spent some time in India when she returned to the country after a gap of 25 years in April 1995.

Her book-- "Pilgrimage to India: A Woman Revisits Her Homeland" was published in 2000.

In the primaries, early this summer, Khanna had received more votes than eight-term incumbent Honda. California electoral system allows the top two winners of the primaries to proceed to the general polls, even if they are from the same party.

Khanna had narrowly lost to Honda in 2014 Congressional polls.

A Yale law graduate and a former official of the Obama administration, Khanna, 40, is pitted against his own party's Honda to represent the 17th Congressional district of

California, whose residents stretch from "Tesla Motors factory in Fremont to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino--taking in Intel, Yahoo, and eBay along the way.

Bera, 51, is the only Indian-American in the current Congress and is third ever elected to the House of Representatives after Dalip Singh Saund in 1950 and Bobby Jindal in 2000s.

If re-elected for the third term, Bera would equal the record of Dalip Singh Saund, who was elected to the House of Representatives from the 29th Congressional District of California from January 1957 to January 1963.

Jindal, who later went on to become the two-term Governor of Louisiana, was elected to the US House of Representatives twice in 2004 and 2006.

Krishnamoorthi, 42, was contesting for the 8th Congressional District of Illinois that includes west and northwest Chicago suburbs.

A son of immigrants, Krishnamoorthi grew up in Illinois and after college and law school, he became policy advisor for Obama’s successful US Senate campaign.

He also served as a founding prosecutor in Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's anti-corruption unit.

In an endorsement in June, Obama had said as the son of immigrants who worked their way into the middle-class, Krishnamoorthi understands both the challenges facing America's working families and the opportunities their work makes possible.

"I know he'll fight hard in Congress to create more good jobs, empower more Americans to start businesses, and help working families afford to put their children through college," Obama had said.

Two Indian-Americans in fray from New Jersey and Michigan however lost their bid to enter the US Congress. Democratic Party candidate in New Jersey's 7th congressional district Peter Jacob lost the race to Republican party ‘s Leonard Lance, who got 55 per cent of the votes.

Jacob came in a close second garnering 42 per cent of the votes.

In Michigan's 11th District, Democratic Party candidate Anil Kumar lost the race, getting 40 per cent of the votes against Republican candidate Dave Trott who was leading with 53 per cent votes.



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