Largest union in Arizona endorses Indian-American candidate for Congress

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One of the two Indian-American candidates for the U.S. Congress from Arizona, who did well but lost the Nov. 6, 2018 elections, has been endorsed by the biggest union in the state for her second attempt to get to Capitol Hill.

Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, candidate for the U.S. Congress from District 8 in Arizona. (Photo: Profile picture on campaign website of Hiral Tipirneni)

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 99, endorsed Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, one of two Indian-American candidates running for the U.S. Congress from District 6 in Arizona. James McLaughlin, president of Local 99 and International Vice President described her as the “right candidate” to defeat incumbent Republican David Schweikert. According to a press release from her campaign, UFCW is the largest union in Arizona with more than 23,000 members including grocery workers, legal aid workers, custodial workers, parking lot attendants, food processors, farm growers and medical office workers, among others.

Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, who secured 44.5 percent of the vote against Republican Debbie Lesko from Arizona’s heavily Republican District 8, in 2018, hopes now to defeat Schweikert in District 6. But that was already tried by another Indian-American Democrat in 2018, Anita Malik, a computer and finance expert as well as journalist, who garnered 44.8 percent against Schweikert’s 55.2 percent.

So first Tipirneni will have to overcome the hurdle of the Democratic primary, scheduled late into the campaign on Aug. 25, 2020, where, Malik and at least one other Democrat has put their hat in the ring.

Tipirneni is not worried about Malik or other candidates she has to defeat in the primary.

“From day one, I’m running against David Schweikert. I’m not looking to tear down other Democrats,” Tipirneni told News India Times. “Our goal is to bring him down. And I am that person,” she added. Having another Indian-American in the race, Tipirneni said, “is a good thing and shows our community is more engaged today than before.”

“I am so honored to have the support of UFCW Local 99. Working people are the backbone of our state, and everyday Arizonans deserve a representative who will put them above special interests and partisan politics,” Tipirneni said in a statement responding to the union’s support. “I have seen firsthand how families here are struggling with ever rising health care costs and deductibles, and I am running for Congress to get the real results people across the Valley need.”

Tipirneni, who declared her run at the end of March, told News India Times she has received support from Indian-Americans in her district and state as well as across the country and had attended events hosted by them in California and New Jersey. She also hopes to see more Indian-Americans volunteering in her campaign as it builds up in coming months.

She estimated her race could cost anywhere from $4 million to $5 million, and that was the “biggest” challenge as “We don’t take any corporate money,” she said. Furthermore, Phoenix, Arizona was one of the most expensive media markets in the country, she said. “That is the biggest cost,” she noted. But “We will build that coalition to unseat him (Schweikert),” Tipirneni asserted.

The Democratic primary being so late in the year (Aug. 25, 2020), means Tipirneni and other contenders will be having to raise massive amounts and face the risk of losing the primary and be out of the race until just two months or so before the general elections.

The Indian-American candidate and fellow Democrats have one thing in their favor. The House Ethics Committee is investigating Rep. Schweikert for alleged ethics violations, and Politico reported April 15, that Schweikert owes almost as much in legal debts as the cash on hand that he has raised so far for his re-election, going by his Federal Election Commission filing.

Tipirneni’s March 30 FEC filing, coming just days after she declared her run, show the cash on hand amount of $86, 607.46. So there is a long way to go to the more than $4 million needed for the race.

Tipirneni is a former emergency room doctor and cancer research advocate got her medical degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University, and served as Chief Resident of the University of Michigan’s Emergency Medicine program, before moving to Arizona with her husband Dr. Kishore Tipirneni.

Tipirneni worked at the emergency department at Banner Good Samaritan, and then in the emergency departments of  Maricopa County Medical Center, Banner Thunderbird, and Abrazo Arrowhead hospitals – all while raising their three children in the Arrowhead community.

After losing her mother and nephew to cancer, Hiral directed her passion and problem-solving skills to evaluating and directing funding for cutting-edge cancer research. She now leads teams of researchers, clinicians, and patient advocates in the fight to treat and cure breast cancer, prostate cancer, and childhood leukemia, according to the biography on her campaign website. .

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