Indian-American candidates securing support from PACs up and down the ballot

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The Indian-American Impact Fund, which supports candidates belonging to the community, announced its latest shortlist of those it is endorsing up and down the ballot

Aruna Miller, executive director of Impact Fund, with supporters during her 2018 run for Congress (Photo: Twitter)

Indian-American candidates have been securing impressive endorsements in their run for office, often in districts and local and state governments where no one from the community has been elected.

In its July 26, press release the Impact Fund said it is endorsing the latest candidates because they “will uphold our nation’s ideals and promise of representative democracy.”

Former Maryland State Assemblywoman Aruna Miller, the executive director or Impact Fund, told News India Times, her organization was “thrilled” to see so many Indian-Americans running for office. “This is what it’s all about – taking leadership, having a place at the table to make policy. This is how we can be a determining factor in how our communities are affected by policies,” said Miller who was in office for 8 years.

When she first ran for office in 2010, Miller recalled, organizations like the Impact Fund did not exist.

“Had there been something like this when I ran, it would have been even easier to navigate my way through,” she said.

Sri Preston Kulkarni, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer, is running for the U.S. Congress from District 22 in Texas, again. (Photo: Kulkarni Twitter @SriPKulkarni)

The Impact Fund supports candidates financially, but also through its network and social media. “It’s getting the word out. As an Indian-American you may not know all those running for office around the country. Our database of thousands of people gets the word out about them and also to other similar organizations, and the local communities,” she said.

The candidates identified in the Impact Fund July 26, press release hail from California, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia. They include Manohar Raju, California-San Francisco Public Defender-Nonpartisan; Ravi Sangisetty, Louisiana-State Representative District 98 – Democrat; Sri Preston Kulkarni, Texas-Congressional District 22 – Democrat; Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, Texas-Congressional District 10 – Democrat; and Raj Salhotra, Texas-Houston Council-At-Large 1-Nonpartisan.

Raju was appointed in March 2019 becoming the first Indian American to head San Francisco’s Public Defender’s office. He will be running as the appointed incumbent.

Sangisetty, an attorney, was recently appointed by Governor Edwards to represent Louisiana in its lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. He also ran for Congress in 2010.

A former foreign service officer, Kulkarni, , came within five points of unseating the Republican incumbent during his first bid for Congress in 2018. Just yesterday, July 25, that Republican incumbent, Rep. Pete Olson, announced he will not run in 2020. During the 2018 campaign, Olson had called Kulkarni a “liberal, liberal, liberal Indo-American who’s a carpetbagger,” and suggested that Kulkarni’s campaign funds were from foreign sources.

The 22nd District in Texas is a majority-minority district that includes Sugar Land, home to a large Indian American community, Impact Fund noted.

Kulkarni tweeted out some other endorsements he received Jul 25, 2019, saying, “We’re proud to tell you that our campaign just received @ASPIRE_PAC’s endorsement AND @AAAFund’s endorsement! We are among one of their earliest endorsements for the 2020 cycle! #Texas #TX22.”

Ghazala Hashmi, Democrat running for Virginia State Senate in November 2019 general elections. (Photo: hashmi4VASenate.org)

Gandhi, running in Texas District 10, is a pediatrician, and currently serves uninsured and low-income residents. He is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas’ Dell Medical School.

Salhotra is the 28-year-old president of SWAG To College, an 10th educational non-profit. He would represent more than two million Houston residents as an at-large councilmember, if elected, Impact Fund noted.

“These candidates will help reclaim America, not for what it was, but for what it can be—a nation that promises freedom, equality, and prosperity for all of its residents,” Deepak Raj, co-founder of Impact and chair of the Impact Fund, is quoted saying in the press release.

“From coast to coast, Indian Americans are stepping up to run for office and serve their fellow Americans. They represent the breadth and depth of talent in our community and we look forward to helping them win in their upcoming elections,” added Raj Goyle, co-founder of Impact and a former member of the Kansas House of Representatives.

Impact Fund previously endorsed Democratic candidates Dr. Ghazala Hashmi (Virginia State Senate 10) and Suhas Subramanyam (Virginia House of Delegates, District 87).

Subramanyam secured the Democratic nomination June 11, and has received the endorsement of other groups including End Citizens United, Virginia Education Association Fund for Children and Public Eduction, among others.

Hashmi has endorsement from big names like Emily’s List, NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League), NOW (National Organization for Women).

Subramanyam and Hashmi, if elected in November, will become the first Indian Americans to serve in the Virginia General Assembly.

 

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