In Congressional primaries, Indian-Americans win top races in California, lose in New Jersey

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Congressman Ro Khanna, D-California, represents the 17th Congressional District. (Photo: Twitter)

Indian-American lawmakers preserved their seats in the open primary in California and hope to keep their wins come November in that state. But several aspirants are out of the running in New Jersey, the state that boasts some of the largest concentrations of the community in the country and where several Indian-Americans won state and city races in the 2017 elections.

Eight states held Congressional primaries June 5, Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Indian-Americans did not feature in the Congressional or gubernatorial races in the remaining 6 states.

In the open primaries in California where the top two vote-getters regardless of party-affiliation, face off in the Nov. 6 general elections, both Indian-American Democratic incumbents won.

According to results posted in various news outlets including Politico and New York Times, Rep. Ro Khanna handily won his primary in District 17, securing nearly 60 percent of the vote (59.1), and will face off against Republican Ron Cohen (24.7 percent) on Nov. 6. This was the result with 100 percent of the precincts reporting. However, the turnout in the primary was poor from both parties. Only 60,000 voters cast their primary ballot, 34,666 for Khanna and just 14,629 for Cohen.

The morning after the primary on June 6, Khanna tweeted the following — “The voter turnout in the United States is much lower than in most other industrialized nations. For a more vibrant democracy that truly represents the American people, we should automatically register every U.S. citizen to vote on their 18th birthday.”

Dr. Ami Bera, Congressman from the 7th District of California, won the open primary June 5.

Dr. Ami Bera won his open primary from the 7th Congressional District securing 51.6 percent of the vote with 100 percent of the precincts reporting by this morning, according to the New York Times. His campaign issuing a statement about his victory, said, “Dr. Ami Bera is humbled by the overwhelming support in his primary victory last night, and it is a testament to the real results he’s achieved for California’s 7th Congressional District,” the statement said, adding, “He’s returned more that $5 million to the Sacramento Tax Payers, including $2.2 million recovered in veterans’ benefits, and more than $1 million in Medicare and Social Security benefits.”

“Headed into November, Dr. Bera is fully committed to the principles that define his time in Congress: access to quality, affordable healthcare for all, good paying jobs and economic development that grows our economy for everyone, and an efficient and effective VA to treat our veterans,” the statement from Bera’s campaign promised.

On Nov. 6, Bera will be pitted against Republican Andrew Grant who got 32.9 percent.

In the California Senate race incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein secured nearly 44 percent of the vote (43.8) and far overshone Kevin de Leon, a competing Democrat who got just 11.3 percent. Indian-American Arun Bhumitra, a Republican candidate in the primary won 5.3 percent. A little-known “non-partisan” candidate Rash Bihari Ghosh also ran for this primary. He secured 0.18 percent of the vote or 6,899 votes, Ballotpedia shows.

In another U.S. House race from California, this one from District 12, Shahid Buttar, a Democrat secured 7.8 percent of the vote, in a primary that gave 68.5 percent of its support to incumbent Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

In California’s District 30, Indian-American Democrat Raji Rab secured just 5.1 percent of the vote, in a race where popular Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman is the incumbent and won more than 61 percent of the vote compared to the second ranking Republican candidate Mark Reed who got 28.5 percent.

Kaiser Ahmed, a Democratic candidate, originally from Bangladesh, ran from California’s District 31 for the U.S. House securing 8.3 percent of the vote compared to the top two vote-getters who were neck-and-neck – Republican Sean Flynn (45.9) and Democrat Pete Aguilar (45.8).

Yet another South Asian-American, trial lawyer and engineer, Omar Siddiqui, who was born in California to Pakistani-origin parents, took a shot at the California District 48 seat where long-time incumbent Republican Dana Rohrabacher won with more than 30 percent of the vote in a contest that saw 16 candidates running. Democrat Siddiqui received 4.9 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey party primaries, in the U.S. House race from District 2, hopeful Republican Hirsh Singh made a good showing with 30.5 percent of the vote, losing however to Seth Grossman who secured 39 percent.

In New Jersey’s District 7, two Indian-Americans made a futile attempt to dislodge the candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party establishment, Tom Malinowsky, who secured more than 66 percent of the vote from party loyalists to Peter Jacob’s 19.1 percent and Gautam Jois’ 14.1 percent.

In Congressional District 10 in New Jersey, Pakistani-American Agha Khan was unopposed in the primary and will be pitted against Donald Payne, Jr. who won handily won his Democratic primary.