From running a campaign and acting as spokespersons to spearheading research and organizing in the field, several South Asian Americans are playing influential roles in presidential campaigns.
With as many as 24 candidates — and counting — vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, the campaigns are going deep into the bench of the party’s political talents. The crowded field has given opportunity to a number of young Indian and South Asian Americans to play crucial roles in campaigns. Here are some South Asian American campaign officials:
Campaign manager, Bernie Sanders
The Florida-bred political activist became the first South Asian American and Muslim American to run a major presidential campaign, when Sen. Bernie Sanders hired him as campaign manager in February. Prior to the new role, Shakir — the son of Pakistani immigrants — served as a national political director for the American Civil Liberties Union, which he joined in 2017. Before that, he was a senior advisor to the then-Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV). He has also worked with the current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as senior advisor and director of digital media, when she was the House Minority Leader. Shakir’s other jobs include editing the website ThinkProgress, which is associated with the Center for American Progress but operated independently on the editorial front. Read more about Faiz Shakir here.
National Press Secretary, Cory Booker
Indian American Sabrina Singh is the National Press Secretary for Cory Booker. A former top aide to DNC Chairman Tom Perez, she brings to the table formidable political experience. She was a regional communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016. She also held the position of Deputy Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee. Read more about Singh here.
Deputy Research Director, Joe Biden
Sharmeen Khan, a Pakistani American, is the Deputy Research Director for the Biden campaign. Previously, she served as a research associate at the American Possibilities PAC, a political action committee launched by Biden in 2017. During 2017-2018, she served as a research analyst at Democracy Forward, a liberal advocacy group whose mission is to help expose corruption within the Trump administration. Khan also has some campaign experience, having interned for the Hillary campaign in 2016 and the 2014 gubernatorial campaign on Andrew Cuomo. Read more about Sharmeen Khan here.
Research Director, Amy Klobuchar
Indian American Anjan Mukherjee is the Research Director for the campaign of Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Before joining the Minnesota Democrat’s campaign, he was the research director at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. Prior to that, in 2014, Mukherjee was involved in Delaware Sen. Chris Coons’ re-election campaign. He has also served as the research associate at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the past. Mukherjee is an alumnus of Davidson College in North Carolina.
Deputy National Organizing Director, Elizabeth Warren
Indian American Kunoor Ojha is the Deputy National Organizing Director for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign. At a young age, Ojha has a wealth of experience, having served as a top student organizer for both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton during the last presidential election cycle. Ojha, began her political career as a summer organizer for President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2011 while still a student. Read more about Kunoor Ojha here.
Nevada Communication Director, Joe Biden
Indian American Vedant Patel was one of the first hires of former Vice President Joe Biden after he announced his run for the White House. Patel previously served as the communication director for Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. In the past, he managed communications for former Rep. Mike Honda and the Democratic National Committee. He has also been the director of AAPI media.
New Hampshire Organizing Director, Kamala Harris
Sen. Kamala Harris hired Indian American Pavitra Abraham as the New Hampshire Organizing Director in March. Recently, Abraham served as the director of Live Training and Political Partnerships at the National Democratic Training Committee. In the last presidential cycle, she was the training director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Iowa. Abraham has also worked as the field organizer for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. She has in the past also worked for the National Organization for Women and People for the American Way. Abraham has a bachelor’s degree from University of Michigan in political science and vocal performance.