Indian Americans set to make a big splash in Nov. 3 polls

Besides VP nominee Kamala Harris, 70 Indian American candidates contesting in 15 states.

Focused on attaining the American dream, Indian Americans once shunned politics, but this time emerging from the shadows they are all set to make a huge splash in Tuesday’s elections far beyond their numbers.

Making up less than 1% of 240 million voters, 1.8 million Indian Americans have emerged as a critical voting bloc in battleground states of  Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The historic nomination of Kamala Harris, the first Indian American on a national ticket has energized voters of Indian descent on either side of political divide.

“There’s a level of enthusiasm and excitement about this year’s election among Indian American voters that is palpable, and unrivaled in previous cycles,” says Neil Makhija, Executive Director of IMPACT.

The leading Indian American advocacy and political action committee, has raised a $10 million war chest to get Harris and other Indian origin candidates elected.

Besides Harris, a record seven Indian Americans are contesting for the US Congress — Sara Gideon for US Senate from Maine, and Ami Bera and Ro Khanna (California), Raja Krishnamoorthi (Illinois), Pramila Jayapal (Washington), Sri Kulkarni and Hiral Tipirneni (Arizona) for the House.

READ: ‘This is our time,’ say Indian Americans in politics (October 15, 2020)

In addition, there are over five dozen other Indian origin candidates running for office in at least 15 states from Arizona to Washington.

“This is our time,” says Deepak Raj, Chairman of Pratham USA and founder of the Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies at Columbia University, vowing to support the Indian American candidates.

In Arizona with an Indian American population of 54,028, Democrat Amish Shah, a doctor who defeated incumbent Ken Clark in 2018 is seeking reelection to the State House from District 24.

In Connecticut with an Indian American population of 46,415, Democrat Raghib Ismail Allie-Brennan, whose father immigrated from Guyana is seeking re-election to the State House from the 2nd district.

In Kentucky with 12,501 Indian Americans, Democrat Nima Kulkarni an immigration attorney is seeking reelection to the Kentucky House from District 40.

READ: Where do Indian Americans live? (October 26, 2020)

In Michigan with 112,368 Indian Americans, Democrat Padma Kuppa, first Indian immigrant and Hindu in the Michigan Legislature is seeking re-election from the 41st district.

Another Democrat Ranjeev Puri is running from Michigan’s 21st House District to help fight for a better Michigan.

In New Hampshire with 10,458 Indian Americans, Democrat Latha Mangipudi, who came to the US to pursue higher studies in the 1980s, is running for re-election from the 35th House District for a fifth term.

In New Jersey which has the largest concentration of Indian Americans in in the US with 387,000 of them making up 4.35 percent of the state’s population, Democrat Rupande Mehta is running from Senate District 25.

If elected, Mehta who came from Mumbai will be the first person of South Asian origin to be elected from his District.

In New York with an Indian American population of 379,439, attorney, Kevin Thomas who in 2018 became the first Indian American in New York’s history to serve in the State Senate is seeking re-election from District 6.

READ: Record number of Indian Americans on ballot across the country (October 9, 2020)

Born in an Indian orphanage, Jeremy Cooney of Democratic Party, Working Families Party, is running for election to the New York State Senate to represent District 56.

Cooney was adopted by a single-mother and grew up in the South Wedge neighborhood of the City of Rochester.

Democrat attorney Jennifer Rajkumar is running from the 38th District of New York State Assembly.

In North Carolina with 98,665 Indian Americans, Democrat attorney and professor Jay Chaudhuri, who in 2016 became the first Indian American state legislator, is seeking reelection from State Senate’s 15th District.

Democrat Ronnie Chatterji, an economist and tenured professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Sanford School of Public Policy.is running for North Carolina’s State Treasurer.

In Ohio with 87,024 Indian Americans, Republican Niraj J. Antani, serving his third term in the State House, is running for Ohio State Senate District 6.

READ: Indian American community rockets its way to relevance (September 4, 2020)

Antani, who at 23 became the youngest member of the Ohio House in 2014 was the first Indian American Republican and second from the community to get elected to the state house.

Democrat Pavan Parikh, an attorney and adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law and Xavier University, is running for election for judge of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas in Ohio.

In Pennsylvania with 147,034 Indian Americans, Democrat Nikil Saval, a writer and community organizer, who was the first Asian American to be elected Democratic ward leader in Philadelphia, is running from District 1 of State Senate

Democrat Nina Ahmad, who has worked as a molecular biologist and entrepreneur is running for Pennsylvania Auditor General. She was earlier Deputy Mayor for Public Engagement in Philadelphia.

In Texas with 474,699 Indian Americans, Democrat Ravi Sandill, who in November 2008 became the first judge of South Asian descent elected in Texas, is seeking re-election as District Judge in Harris County.

In Vermont with just 1,359 Indian Americans, Democrat Kesha Ram of Burlington, who served in the Vermont House of Representatives from 2009 to 2016, is now running from Senate’s Chittenden District.

READ MORE: Road to the White House

Daughter of a Punjabi from India, she was one of the youngest ever to be elected to State Assembly at the age of 21.

In Washington with 139,801 Indian Americans, Democrat Vandana Slatter, a pharmacist, and scientist is seeking re-election from the 48th District of the House.

Indeed it seems Indian Americans’ “time in the political spotlight has really arrived,” as Milan Vaishnav, who directs the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, put it.

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