The AAPI Victory Fund, a Democratic party “Super PAC” that mobilizes voters from Asian American and Pacific Islanders communities, has thrown its weight behind Indian American physician Hiral Tipirneni, who is running for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.
A special election will be held for the seat early next year because of the resignation of Rep. Trent Franks. The Republican resigned from Congress on December 8, following a House ethics panel decision to investigate him over sexual harassment charges.
The primary is scheduled for February 27 and the general election for April 24.
Tipirneni, an emergency room physician, officially announced her candidacy on July 19, months before the staunch conservative Franks was practically pushed out of Congress by the House leadership following revelations that he had asked two female congressional staffers to bear his children as surrogate mothers.
The Indian American said she is running because she wanted to take on special interests in Washington. “I believe in solving problems and improving lives, which is all about people, not partisanship,” Tipirneni said while announcing her candidacy. “That’s what I did in the emergency room, and I’m running for Congress to do the same.”
Speaking to The American Bazaar, AAPI Victory Fund Founder and Chairman Shekar Narasimhan described Tipirneni as a “competent” and a “highly-qualified” candidate who offers a great opportunity for the Democrats to capture a historically GOP district.
“[She’s] bringing a fresh energy to a congressional district that has been represented for 18 years by an ideologue,” Narasimhan said. “Her medical experience and commitment to service is exemplary and she is deserving of our support.”
Franks was first elected to Congress in November 2002 from Arizona’s 2nd district and after 2012 redistricting, he had been representing the 8th district.
Narasimhan urged Indian Americans to get behind Tipirneni, “and put a sixth Indian American in Congress as early as April 24, 2018.”
So far all four Indian American members in the US House of Representatives — Reps Ami Bera (CA), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Ro Khanna (CA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL) — have endorsed Tipirneni. She also has the endorsement of New Jersey Democrat Donald Payne.
“I believe Hiral would be a terrific congresswoman,” Khanna said in a statement forwarded to the Bazaar by the AAPI Victory Fund. “She would serve her constituents with great dignity, thoughtfulness and leadership. As a physician, Hiral is better prepared than most to solve the complex public policy issues facing our nation.”
READ: Indian American Dr. Hiral Tipirneni’s chances improve as Rep. Trent Franks announces resignation (December 8, 2017)
Thanking the five Democrats for their early support, Tipirneni said it “reinforces that we have a viable campaign capable of competing and winning a traditionally tough district.” She added: “Their willingness to share their experiences and lessons learned is invaluable, and I would be honored to serve alongside them in Congress.”
Her career as a physician and her ability to work with others are qualities that Tipirneni is touting.
“I’m not a career politician,” she said in July. “But I’ve successfully worked with people from all walks of life, and I promise to bring that team-oriented approach to working with Republicans and Democrats alike to get the results we need.”
Since losing her mother and a nephew to cancer, Tipirneni has advocated more funding for cancer research. According to her campaign, the physician now “leads teams of researchers, clinicians, and patient advocates in the fight to treat and cure breast cancer, prostate cancer, and childhood leukemia.”
The 8th district is a moderate and suburban district that includes Maricopa County, parts of Glendale and Phoenix, cities of Surprise, Peoria, Litchfield Park, El Mirage and Goodyear. It is home to two large retirement communities, as well as thousands of voters in the 50–64 demography, who would be impacted by President Trump’s efforts to undermine Obamacare.
READ: AAPI Victory Fund condemns Trump’s executive order (February 1, 2017)
“With a toxic environment for Republicans and political insiders in Arizona, along with deep divisions within the Republican Party, this type of suburban and independent-minded district is ripe for a problem-solving Democrat like Hiral,” the campaign says.
A memo by the pro-Democratic consulting firm Lake Research Partners termed the 8th district as “a winnable race” for the party. “The trends over the last several months have been bad for Republicans nationally and in Arizona,” it states. “Dr. Tipirneni is a unique figure who can take advantage of this moment, capture this seat in a special, and bring even more focus to Democrats’ chances of taking back the US House.”
According to the Associated Press, from the Republican side candidates include former Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump, and current and former legislators Steve Montenegro, Phil Lovas and Debbie Lesko.
Tipirneni’s family immigrated from India when she was three. She grew up in suburban Cleveland and obtained a medical degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University. After serving as Chief Resident of the University of Michigan’s Emergency Medicine program, she and husband, Kishore, whom she met at the medical school, moved to the Phoenix, AZ, area. The couple has three children.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, AAPI Victory Fund raised more than $700,000 in the last election cycle. Narasimhan, its founder, is a Managing Partner at the McLean, VA, -based Beekman Advisors, which provides strategic advisory services to companies and investors.