The election scene is heating up in Illinois’ 8th District as more Indian-Americans throw their hat into the ring for the U.S. Congress. The latest to join the challenge for her party’s nomination is TV Asia’s Midwest Bureau Chief Vandana Jhingan of Schaumburg, Illinois, who declared her candidacy Nov. 24, in a district held by incumbent Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat. She launched her petition drive to garner the 750-1,000 signatures required to be submitted to make her candidacy official, and said her work as a community activist and businesswoman qualified her to take on the rough and tumble of the race.
Recently, another Republican, Jitendra Diganvker, also a businessman from Schaumburg, Illinois, announced his candidacy for Congress from the same district. Like Diganvker, Jhingan will also need to be endorsed by the Republican Party in the March 2018 primaries.
Meanwhile, Congressman Krishnamoorthi, who filed his papers to officially start his 2018 re-election campaign, held his first fundraiser in New York state Nov. 27. Responding to what he thought of Indian-Americans running against him, Krishnamoorthi told this correspondent, “We live in a democracy. It’s a free country and people are exercising their rights.”
A person close to Krishnamoorthi’s campaign who did not wish to be named, said that the Illinois Congressman’s record on Capitol Hill speaks for itself.
Jhingan kicked off her petitions campaign with members of the Bhartiya Senior Group(BSG) in Carol Stream, Illinois. Hari Patel, president of BSG praised her service to the community and called upon everyone to provide unconditional support to her, a press release from her campaign said. She also has some heavy hitters in the Republican Hindu Coalition which has declared its support of her candidacy. “The RHC has committed to providing significant financial support to Jhingan’s campaign,” the press release said.
Jhingan said there were “innumerable problems” affecting a “vast” number of Americans from different walks of life, and their severity has only increased over the decades. “To correct these journeys my conscience has compelled me to run for 8th Congressional district in Illinois on a Republican ticket for all Americans,” Jhingan is quoted saying, adding that “her years of community service and experience working with business and government has motivated her” to take on challenges facing District 8 residents.
Jhingan has been the Midwest bureau chief of TV ASIA for more than 15 years and works on various appointed positions with the city of Schaumburg, the press release said. She has lived in Schaumburg since 2000 with her family. She is a certified yoga instructor and spends her free time taking care of her parents and working with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Before he came to Congress in 2016, Krishnamoorthi had served as a former Treasurer of Illinois State, a solar technology entrepreneur, and had helped start the public corruption department in the Illinois Attorney General’s office, according to his supporters. In his first bid, he lost the Democratic primary to Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth. When Duckworth decided to run for the U.S. Senate, Krishnamoorthi was endorsed by his party.
“People have a right to run,” said one aide close to Krishnamoorthi, “We are going to focus on what Raja can do for Desis and other Americans, and has already proved himself.”
Krishnamoorthi drew attention to the priority on his agenda – career technical and vocational education, an effort that has borne fruit in legislation that is now before the U.S. Senate for approval, he noted during his interview.
A Congressional District has approximately 750,000 to a million people, and name recognition will be a challenge for the two Republicans who have declared their run for their party’s endorsement. Krishnamoorthi has an obvious advantage on that score. In addition, no Democrat has declared they will run against him in the Democratic Party primaries as of yet. If that remains the same, he will automatically be the party candidate for the November 2018 elections for a possible second term. Krishnamoorthi was one of four Indian-Americans who came into the U.S. House in 2016 (the others being Reps. Ami Bera and Ro Khanna of California; Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state); One more Indian-American was elected to the U.S. Senate, Kamala Harris of California. All are Democrats.