Indian American lawmakers’ Samosa Caucus set to get bigger

From left: Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Raja Krishnamurthy (D-Wash.) and Ami Bera (D-Calif.).

They have come a long way from the days of pioneer Dalip Singh Saund.

Five Indian American lawmakers in the US Congress collectively go by the nickname of “Samosa Caucus,” after India’s favorite triangular savory teatime snack. Come Tuesday it may grow larger.

Currently the caucus includes the Democratic vice presidential nominee senator Kamala Harris and four House members – Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Pramila Jayapal – all Democrats.

If elected as Vice President, Harris would have to vacate her seat and be replaced by a nominee of California Governor to serve out the remaining two years of her term.

If not, she is likely to be joined by Sara Gideon, 48, Maine House speaker, who is reported to be giving the incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins a run for her money with a war chest of $64 million.

Gideon grew up in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, where her father was a pediatrician who emigrated from India and her Armenian American mother was a psychiatrist. She settled in Freeport to raise her family withhusband, Benjamin Rogoff Gideon.

Indian Americans in Maine are as excited about Gideon’s candidacy as they are about Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

All the four Indian American House members are likely to be re-elected.

The longest serving Bera, 55, in his quest for the fifth consecutive term to the House faces a challenge from

Republican Buzz Patterson, a military veteran, in California.

Seeking a third Congressional term, lawyer, academic Ro Khanna, 44, is facing a challenge from another Indian American Ritesh Tandon of Republican Party.

Khanna also served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Commerce Department under President Barack Obama.

Chennai born civil rights activist Jayapal, 55, the first and the only Indian American woman in the House, is seeking a third-consecutive term from Washington State. She has been challenged by little known Republican Craig Keller.

New Delhi-born Krishnamoorthi, 47, is pitted against Preston Nelson of the Libertarian Party in a Democratic stronghold in Illinois. With no candidates forthcoming Republican Party had cancelled its primary in the district.

A few more Indian Americans are also eyeing the House. Among them Dr Hiral Tipirneni, an emergency room physician in Arizona,  running a close race against Republican incumbent David Schweikert.

So is former diplomat Sri Preston Kulkarni,42, against Republican rival Troy Nehls in Texas. He narrowly lost the race in 2018. .

Some others fighting what are considered uphill battles by the media include three Republicans — Rik Mehta from New Jersey, Manga Anantatmula from Virginia and Nisha Sharma from California.

Mehta is pitted against popular Democratic Senator Cory Booker.

It seems Indian American politicians have come a long way since the days of Punjab, India-born Dalip Singh Saund, the first Asian American, the first Indian American to be elected to the House from California. He served from 1957 to 1963.

He was followed after a long draught by Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, who served in the House from 2005 to 2008 before becoming Governor of Louisiana from 2008 to 2016.


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