Indian-American physician wins Arizona Democratic primary for Congress

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Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, who won the Democratic primary Feb. 27, to run for the U.S. Congress from Arizona’s District 8, seen here with her husband Kishore and their three children. (Photo: Facebook)

Elected leaders, activists, and fundraisers in the Indian-American community are celebrating the victory of an Arizona physician in that state’s 8th Congressional District Democratic primary.

“Thank you to everyone who knocked on a door, picked up a phone, & helped to spread our message through #AZ08! #grassroots,” Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, an emergency room physician, said on Facebook. She had just defeated her Democratic opponent in the Feb. 27 primary and won the endorsement of her party for the District 8 seat in Arizona. There is a Special Election scheduled for April 24 to fill the seat vacated by Republican Congressman Trent Franks who quit in the face of sexual misconduct allegations.

“I’m very happy to have endorsed Dr. Hiral Tipirneni for Congress, and that she won her primary last night,” Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, told News India Times. “Now onward and upward to a victory in April,” he added.

Tipirneni beat her Democratic opponent Brianna Westbrook, an LGBTQ community activist. She now has to defeat  the Republican primary winner Debbie Lesko to possibly become the 3rd Indian-American woman lawmaker on Capitol Hill.

The AAPI Victory Fund, a political action committee founded by an Indian-American Shekar Narasimhan, tweeted out immediately upon Tipirneni’s victory  “Congratulations @Hiral4Congress #Mineta11 Candidate for winning Democratic Congressional District 8 primary https://t.co/7aS1ZNsTzI via @azcentral #AAPIPower” The organization has endorsed her and is raising funds for her campaign.

“Hiral is quintessentially the right candidate at the right place at the right time,” Narasimhan told News India Times, via email. “Her obvious credentials and empathy bring her to national attention and with the election looming on April 24th it is imperative we ARIZONA, Indian, Democratic, primary, Congressional, District of Arizona, physician, gives, Democrats, Congressional provide her the resources to succeed. Fly to Phoenix and go knock on doors, make calls or send  money,” he urged.

The New York Times does not give Tipirneni much of a chance at winning the seat describing District 8 as safely in Republican hands. Past elections results show Franks won 68.5 percent of the vote in the 2016 elections and almost 76 percent in 2014. However, it was a seat that was held by Democrat Gabby Giffords back in 2010. Giffords had to leave after being shot while addressing constituents. Giffords endorsed Tipirneni during the primaries.

Gautam Raghavan, The Indian American Impact Fund’s consultant, congratulated Dr. Tipirneni on her primary victory. “Voters in Arizona, and across America, are hungry for new leadership and fresh ideas. Indian American candidates like Dr. Tipirneni, who have deep roots in their communities and have demonstrated passion for public service, represent the next generation of political leadership,” Raghavan told News India Times via email.

The Arizona Democratic Party Chair Felecia Rotellini issued a statement congratulating Tipirneni, describing it as a hard-fought campaign. “She ran an incredible campaign focused on improving the lives of Arizonans in the Eighth Congressional District by offering real solutions for them. This is in direct contrast to the chaos Arizonans have seen on their television screens by the Arizona Republican Party,” Rotellini said, adding, ‘“The Eighth Congressional District deserves a representative that work to get things done for them – like safeguarding Social Security and Arizona’s AHCCCS while making sure their hard-earned tax dollars don’t go to waste in Washington. Dr. Hiral Tipirneni will do exactly that.”

The AAPIVictory Fund says “Dr. Hiral Tipirneni has dedicated her life to serving her community, solving problems, and improving lives,” and served the Phoenix area for more than 20 years as an emergency room physician, cancer research advocate and, most recently, on the board of directors of the Maricopa Health Foundation, which supports the county’s public health care delivery system.

According to the bio on AAPIVictory Fund, Tipirneni came to the U.S. at the age of 3 and was raised in Ohio in a blue-collar suburb of Cleveland. Following a childhood illness, she was inspired to learn more about medicine. She earned her medical degree through an accelerated, competitive program at Northeast Ohio Medical University. She is married to Dr. Kishore Tipirneni. The couple has three children.