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Indian-American Candidates Fare Poorly at Polls


Ami Bera, Democratic candidate for California's 7th Congressional district, at his campaign office Elk Grove, Oct. 26, 2012.

Ami Bera, Democratic candidate for California's 7th Congressional district, at his campaign office Elk Grove, Oct. 26, 2012.

While Asian-Americans make up the fastest growing bloc of voters in the United States, that didn’t translate into victories for the six Indian-American candidates running for Congress.

Only one Indian-American still has a chance at winning a congressional seat. Dr. Ami Bera was holding onto a slim 184-vote lead in California’s 7th Congressional District as of Thursday afternoon, but the race remained too close to call.

Bera, a medical doctor and a Democrat who was endorsed by former president Bill Clinton, had campaigned on a platform that included strengthening Medicare and reducing healthcare costs. He also opposed congressional pay increases and congressional perks, and wanted to require Congress to pass a budget.

“Career politicians have lined their pockets with special-interest money and turned their backs on the values that made our country great - and now we’re left to pay the price for their government malpractice,” he wrote on his website. “This is why I am taking a new oath, like the one I took to become a doctor, to put people first.”

The rest of the Indian-American field, mostly Democrats, fared poorly.

Manan Trivedi, also a doctor who ran for the congressional seat in Pennsylvania’s 6th District, listed education, healthcare and jobs as among his top priorities. Dr. Syed Taj, a physician as well who ran in Michigan’s 11th District, ran on a similar platform.

Jack Uppal, an engineer, ran for California’s 4th District seat on a platform of saving Medicare, creating jobs and bringing moderation to Congress. Another engineer, Upendra Chivukula, made a bid for New Jersey’s 7th District’s seat, listed jobs, education and energy as his top issues.

Ricky Gill, a small business owner and the lone Republican among the six candidates, vied for California’s 9th District’s seat on a platform or jobs, education and healthcare.

In Hawaii, however, Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, became the first Hindu to be elected to Congress. Gabbard served in the military and has held office in Hawaii’s state legislature and in the Honolulu City Council. She is not of Indian origin.

The first Indian-American, or Asian-American for that matter, to win election to Congress was Dalip Singh Saund, a Sikh, who was elected in 1957 and served until 1963 in California’s 29th District.
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