US Elections: Indian-Americans are in the running

US Elections: Indian-Americans are in the running

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Election - Indian American

The question is – who will make the cut?

The world is shockingly absorbing the US election debates where young children cannot participate! This is one of the lowest points of presidential debates in the US history.

While US election fever climbing up a peak, with the Presidential debates the most-watched and the most-talked about events, here’s a look at how the Indian Americans are trying to remain in the forefront.

In general, majority of Indian-Americans are supporters of the Democratic Party. However, during this election a large number of them have moved towards the Republican Party or may not vote at all.

In a May 27, 2016 survey by the Wall Street Journal projected the following figures for Indian-American voters:

Democratic Party

Favorable: 65 %

Un-favorable: 17%

Not sure: 18%

Republican Party

Favorable: 18%

Un-favorable: 58%

Not sure: 24%

It will be interesting to see what is the current mood, after two presidential debates and ‘revelations’ about the candidates!

While the votes of Indian-Americans may not count much since they are less than 1%, however, their funds will have huge impact. Among the big political donors, Indian-Americans are on the top list.

Few Indian Americans have occupied high offices in the US – among them are Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal, Nicki Halley and Kamala Harris.

Republican Nikki Haley became the first female Governor of Indian origin in 2010 and is a rising star in the party.

Lawyer turned politician Democrat Kamala Harris is the current Attorney General of California since 2011.

Among the most high-profile Indo Americans is former Louisiana Governor Republican Bobby Jindal, who was a contender for the highest office. But, he dropped out of the White House race in November 2015. That, is not the end of the story, as far as Indo-Americans go.

In this election season, a good number of candidates from Indian-American community are running for various offices – for State Representatives and Senates, US Congress and US Senate.

And, the reality is that many Indian-Americans are hopeful of winning a seat in the US Congress, especially women. According to US political experts, there are several Americans of Indian origin, who are in the race.

Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris

Among them, is California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris, 51, a close confidant of US President Barack Obama. She is expected to be elected to the US Senate, which would make her the first Indian-American woman to become a Senator.

Neera Tanden
Neera Tanden with Hillary Clinton

For Indo-Americans, this is a time, packed with impending action. The energy and enthusiasm is clearly visible when the focus is on Neera Tanden, a close aide of Clinton. Currently president of the Center for American Progress, a research and advocacy organization in Washington DC, Tanden was the only Indian American to have been invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia.

Indian-Americans do seem to be on a prominent, if not winning wicket. They can make a huge difference in helping first-ever woman US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to her Indian-origin supporters. Indian-Americans in this campaign “need to harness and galvanize the resources especially in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia,” remarked Indian-American Frank Islam, who was a major fundraiser for the Clinton Campaign.

There is a general feeling that Clinton’s leadership will have a positive impact on India-America relations. However, some Indian Americans have doubts. Although Trump is perceived as anti-immigration, his pronouncement of keeping the Muslim refugees out of the country has resonated with many. Hillary is also accused of playing a role in the banning of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US VISA.

Trump Shaili Kumar
Shaili Kumar with Donald Trump

In a recent event in New Jersey, organized by the Republican Hindu Coalition, Trump has assured strong friendship with India and also resonated the view of India – Pakistani origin of global terrorism. This may have boosted many like Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar who has started the organization. Republican Heavyweight Newt Gingrich recently said:”I see this coalition playing a very important role in being a bridge between America, India and across all the world, and the Hindu community” . Gingrich is serving as an honorary chairman of the group.

Very optimistic, Rajwant Singh, a Sikh community leader, said that Hillary Clinton’s nomination sends a powerful message – of unity, which resonates with majority of Americans. Singh said Sikhs are pleased with the nomination, as she has been a friend of the community, even standing by the Sikhs during the challenging times in the aftermath of 9/11. He also expressed his delight at the nomination of Tim Kaine, who is an ardent supporter of Sikhs to be admitted in the US Armed Forces. Also happy with this nomination is Anjan Chimaladinne, a delegate for Clinton from Virginia, who said that he has known Tim Kaine for 10 years, and that his experience at every level – Local (City Councilman and Mayor), State (Lieutenant Governor and Governor), and Federal (US Senator) would absolutely make him a wonderful Vice President.

pramila Jayapal
Pramila Jayapal

Experts are also talking about Democrat Pramila Jayapal, who is considered the front runner in the race for a US House of Representatives Seat from Washington State. If elected, she would be the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the House.

Peter Jacob
Peter Jacob

Running for the US House of Representatives from New Jersey, which is known to be a strong Republican bastion, is a 30-year-old Indian-American Democratic social worker – Peter Jacob, who is a staunch supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, and who was elected unopposed in the Democratic primary on June 7. Now, he hopes to turn things around, this election, since his rival incumbent Lance moved camp to support Donald Trump.

Ro Khanna
Ro Khanna

Ro Khanna, a Democrat and former professor, who is now running for US Congress from Silicon Valley, California, feels that even before the formal nomination, Clinton was backed by the high-profile Indian American techie community in Silicon Valley.

November 8 will decide the fates of many and also will usher in another era for Indo-US relationship.


About the author

Shree Lahiri is Consulting Editor at NGI, and her expertise lies in communications. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen. She was Features Editor at Mid-Day, Pune and Deputy Editor at

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