US Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL) speaks during a press conference at the US Embassy in Tokyo on August 5, 2022, at the end of an Asian tour, which included a visit to Taiwan. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP) (Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/Afp/AFP via Getty Images)
A record five Indian-American politicians from the ruling Democratic Party, including Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna, Ami Bera and Pramila Jayapal, are headed to the US House of Representatives on Wednesday (9) following the highly polarised midterm elections.
The new US Congress will begin in January next year.
Apart from these five politicians, many others from the community won across the country to state legislatures.
The current House of Representatives has four Indian-American lawmakers and they all are Democrats Bera from the sixth Congressional district of California, Khanna from the 17th Congressional District of California, Raja Krishnamoorthi from the eighth Congressional District of Illinois and Pramila Jayapal from the seventh Congressional District of Washington State.
For his fourth consecutive term, Khanna swept the 17th Congressional District with more than 70 per cent of the votes polled against his Republican rival, Indian American Ritesh Tandon.
Krishnamoorthi, 49, won his fourth consecutive term by defeating Republican candidate Chris Dargis by a margin of over 12 per cent of the votes. Krishnamoorthi, who was attacked by right-wing Muslim fundamentalists during the election campaign, in his victory speech called on all candidates everywhere to “denounce violence and bigotry” and “focus on what we share in common as Americans.”
“Whatever side you’re on in this election, those on the other side are not your enemy,” he continued. “We are all Americans, and we must work together on behalf of a better and stronger nation,” he said in his victory speech.
He serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and the Select Subcommittee on Coronavirus.
“My parents came to this country with little more than a dream for their family’s future and the faith that they could achieve it here in America,” Krishnamoorthi said.
“And despite some hard times, we did. Now, we need to make sure that those opportunities continue for all of our people, whether they’ve been here for generations, or are relatively new to our shores,” he said.
Chennai-born Jayapal, 57, the first and the only Indian-American woman in the House of Representatives, swept the seventh Congressional district of Washington State with more than 85 per cent of the votes polled against her Republican rival Cliff Moon, who received just 15 per cent of the votes. She has won for the fourth consecutive term.
Joining them in the next Congress would be Shri Thanedar, 67, from the 13th Congressional District of Michigan. Making his maiden entry into the House of Representatives, Thanedar who came to the US with just 20 dollars in his pocket and later on became a successful entrepreneur, received 72 per cent votes in the 13th Congressional District of Michigan against his Republican rival Martell Bivings with 23 per cent of the votes polled.
Thanedar, who wants to make health care mandatory for every American citizen and plans to focus on issues like immigration and human rights in the House, is the fifth member of the so-called Samosa Caucus, an informal grouping of Indian-Americans in the Congress.
“We did it! …. I’m honoured to be the next Representative in Congress for the 13th District!” Thanedar said in his early comments after results started coming in.
Bera, 57, the seniormost among the Indian-American politicians of all who is seeking his sixth consecutive term was leading by more than 12 per cent of the votes against his Republican rival Tamika Hamilton as per the latest reporting when 25 per cent of the votes polled were counted. Indian-American candidates picked up seats in State legislatures also.
In Maryland, Aruna Miller scripted history by becoming the first Indian-American politician to win the race of Lieutenant Governor.
Miller, 58, a former delegate to the Maryland House, was on the Lieutenant Governor ticket along with Wes Moore – the Democratic Governor-elect.
However, Indian-American Sandeep Srivastava lost from Texas’s third Congressional district to Keith Self, the former Colin County judge.
The emergence of a large number of young Indian-American candidates reflects the growing desire of this small ethnic community comprising just one per cent of the US population of 33.19 crores.
Ahead of the November 8 elections, the Democrats and the Republicans reached out to the Indian-American community. The Washington Post newspaper on Friday said that Indian-Americans can play an important role in some of the tightly contested races.
“Ahead of mid-term elections that could be decided by razor-thin margins, Democrats are hoping to capitalise on some of the optimism felt by Indian Americans, a growing and increasingly vital bloc of voters,” the daily wrote. President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party strongly pushed back against Donald Trump-led Republican Party’s expected ‘red wave’ on Wednesday, preventing it from sweeping the House of Representatives and other elected bodies across the US which the pollsters and political pundits were predicting before the crucial midterm elections.