Indian-American candidates vying for US Congress in 2024

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s header photo on X @RaviBhalla

Indian Americans have been interested in carving their political space at the national table now for decades, and the fruits of their labor are paying off, with more successes now than before.

As former Governor of South Carolina and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley battles for the GOP nomination for President, numerous Indian-Americans, including two female candidates, representing various regions across the nation, are vying for seats in the US Congress in 2024.  There are already five Indian-American lawmakers currently serving on Capitol HIll. Hence, overall representation may see an uptick should these candidates successfully navigate their primaries and emerge victorious in the November elections.

Susheela Jayapal, candidate for Congress. PHOTO X @SusheelaJayapal

Incumbent lawmakers Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ami Bera (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Shri Thanedar (D-MI) are also seeking re-elections this year.

A former Gubernatorial candidate of Maryland, Ashwani Jain, who is running for Congress from Maryland’s 6th District told News India Times, “I am running for Congress in the district I live in and call home – not just to be Maryland’s first Millennial, first Asian-American and first Indian-American ever elected – but because I have specific policy solutions that will open the doors of opportunity for our community.”

Ashwani Jain with President Barack Obama at the Oval Office in White House in 2014. PHOTO: Pete Souza (with permission from Ashwani Jain.)

According to Jain, he has the “most expansive federal experience of anyone in the race” having previously served in President Barack Obama’s White House including the US Department of Health and Human Services, and US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Dr. Prasanth Reddy, candidate for Congress. PHOTO: @reddyforkansas

He emphasized that “in politics, money often drowns out [our] voices” and candidates’ fixation “on fundraising” not only creates disparities in access but also “diminishes the very essence” of being a public servant. As such, Jain said, he has refused donations from big corporations, special interest and political action groups, and his campaign is run by residents from his district, and not consultants.

Jain, a cancer survivor, is focused on issues including immigrant rights, climate change, labor rights and raising teachers’ pay, reproductive justice, and gun violence.

Virginia State Senator, Suhas Subramanyam, is running for Congress from VA’s 10th district to succeed Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. Subramanyam told News India Times, “I feel like people have lost faith in Congress in the US. It’s the most unproductive Congress ever. This year, it’s also been the most unpopular as well… [people] have completely lost faith in the process,” while noting he would like to be part of the solution.

On February 1st, Subramanyam’s Bill to “Grow, Protect, and Maintain Trees & Green Spaces” unanimously passed in the Senate. “I take the responsibility of protecting and preserving our environment seriously, and I’m glad to have been a part of the coalition that has led to this successful bill,” said Subramanyam in a press release.

Suhas Subramanyam along with his wife and kids at their house on January 4, 2024, in Brambleton, Virginia. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

“Senator Subramanyam’s SB 121 will help restore and revitalize our trees and green spaces,” said Ann Jurczyk, Virginia Director of Advocacy and Outreach for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Subramanyam also recently introduced a Bill to Stop Ethnic Discrimination. He said in a statement, “Virginians must be empowered to conduct their lives freely without facing discrimination or hate based on their ethnic origin,” adding, “We’ve seen a rise in hate in our community in recent years. Hate has no home in Virginia…”

Hoboken Mayor, Ravi Bhalla is running for Congress from New Jersey’s 8th District. At Congress, Bhalla noted on his website that he “will be an advocate for New Jersey’s working families as he fights to make healthcare a right for everyone, tackle climate change, protect a woman’s right to choose, and build an economy that works for all New Jerseyans.”

Rishi Kumar, is running from California’s 16th Congressional district on a Democratic ticket. An engineer by profession, Kumar will push for “a six-term (12 years) maximum in the U.S. House of Representatives, a three-term (18 years) maximum in the U.S. Senate, and an 18-year maximum term for Supreme Court justices. Rishi also favors a maximum age limit of 70 years for the President, members of Congress, and Supreme Court justices” said a press release.

Kumar supports Medicare for All, reproductive rights, climate change, and stopping the “senseless deaths” of school children.

Krystle Kaul, candidate for Congress. PHOTO Linkedin @Krystle-kaul

There are also two women Indian-Americans running for the Congress this year, Susheela Jayapal and Krystle Kaul. Jayapal, who is running for Oregon’s 3rd district has stated in her website, “We have big problems, but we also have huge opportunities. I know we can work together to take on the challenges that face us. I’m running for Congress to fight for the change we need, to build a society and country we can be proud to leave to the next generation.”

Kaul, who is running for the Democratic Party nomination from Virginia’s 10th district, much like Subramanyam, is focusing on issues such as national security, women’s rights, economy & jobs, healthcare, education, and energy & the environment.

Dr. Amish Shah, contesting from Arizona’s 1st district, supports issues such as, proper education for kids, and universal health care including supporting reproductive rights.

Other candidates running on Democratic nominations include Vimal Patel from Alabama’s 2nd district, Nikhil Bhatia from Illinois’ 7th District, and New York State Senator Kevin Thomas from New York’s 4th district.

There are also two candidates running on Republican tickets including Dr. Prashanth Reddy, from Kansas’ 3rd district, and Niraj Antani, from Ohio’s 2nd district.

Dr. Reddy, a physician, is focused on defending the nation and standing up for parents and students in addition to securing the border, supporting law enforcement, standing up to China, and protecting taxpayers.

Niraj Antani. PHOTO: X @NirajAntani

“Having been born and raised right here in southern Ohio, I will be a conservative warrior in Congress and fight against Joe Biden’s disastrous policies,” Antani, the first Indian-American State Senator in Ohio, said in a press release on November 14, 2023, while announcing his run. “In Congress, I will have a steel-spine in standing for life, our 2nd Amendment rights, and for pro-growth economic policies. As a fiercely pro-Trump Republican, I will work hard every day for our community in Congress to ensure every Ohioan has an opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”



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