Politics, Road to the White House, Spotlight

Tulsi Gabbard outraises Kamala Harris among Indian American donors

Kamala Harris and Tulsi Gabbard
Kamala Harris (left) and Tulsi Gabbard. Photo credits: https://www.tulsi2020.com and https://kamalaharris.org/

Harris trails Gabbard and NJ Sen. Corey Booker in Indian American campaign donations.

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has vastly outraised California Sen. Kamala Harris among Indian American donors in the 2020 presidential fundraising derby so far.

Gabbard, who is a Hindu American, but not Indian American, has raised more than $237,000, from the community. In comparison, Harris, daughter of an Indian American mother and Jamaican American father, has so far raised only $72,606 from the community, according to AAPI Data, which publishes data and policy research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

In a clear sign that Harris, one of the strongest contenders in the crowded 2020 Democratic field, has not been fully embraced by the community, the senator trails even New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker among Indian Americans.

Booker has raised more than $131,000 from Indian Americans. A big reason for that is New Jersey is home to nearly 370,000 Indian Americans.

But Harris’ state, California, has the largest Indian American population in the country — more than 712,000. Yet, her campaign hasn’t received traction among Indian American campaign donors, the AAPI Data research reveals.

The senator, however, received an important endorsement when the influential Indian American Impact Fund announced that it is backing her earlier this week.

“In such a critically important election, one that will shape policy and politics for generations to come, Indian Americans can’t afford to stay on the sidelines,” it said explaining the endorsement.

ALSO READ: Seven things to know about Kamala Harris (January 21, 2019)

The Fund, the first major Indian American political group to endorse Harris, said that it will mobilize its network of resources to ensure that the senator “secures the Democratic nomination and is elected the next President of the United States of America.”

Harris, unlike Gabbard, has not made any attempts to reach out to the Indian American community so far, even though she has repeatedly cited her Indian identity and her mother’s influence on her.

On the other hand, Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran and the first Hindu candidate to get elected to US Congress, has a huge grassroots following among right-leaning Hindu Americans, having closely aligned with them right from the beginning of her congressional career.

As soon as she announced the launch of her presidential campaign in January, her campaign sent out an email touting her Hindu credentials. “Tulsi has been a Hindu American leader in the truest sense,” the email said. “From being the first ever member of the US Congress to take the oath on the Bhagavad Gita to fiercely advocating for not only her constituents, but for issues impacting the well-being of Hindus here at home and around the world, Tulsi’s approach to lawmaking and diplomacy has been one guided by dharma and steeped in the spirit of karma yoga.”

The email, intended for Hindu American supporters, also noted her past fight against inaccurate and disrespectful presentations of Hindu teachings and traditions in the media and public school textbooks. “She has unapologetically advocated for civil and human rights – speaking up not only for Hindu minorities, but all people who are suffering,” the email said.

Historically, Indian Americans have donated huge amounts to congressional and gubernatorial candidates from the community. However, their track record in bankrolling candidates from the community so far is spotty.

In the last presidential election cycle, the campaign of former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal attracted only lukewarm support of the community.

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