“I knew where I was the day someone told me to go back to where I came from. I know the exact spot where I was standing. I still feel the humid air that night and I can feel the rage of that person … who was yelling at me. “
Those were the words of Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, candidate for the United States Congress from Texas 10th Congressional District, as he conceded defeat to his fellow Democratic opponent Mike Siegel, a civil rights attorney, in the July 14, 2020 Democratic primary.
Just days before the primary Gandhi, who has been treating COVID-19 patients alongside running his campaign over the last few months, announced a record fundraising amount of $1.26 million, but it appears not to have closed the gap.
In 2018, Siegel, whose progressive platform called for ‘Medicare for All’ compared to Gandhi’s ‘Medicare for all that want it’ had made a great showing against the eight-term Republican opponent, Congressman Mike McCaul, defeated by just around 4 percentage points.
But even in defeat, Gandhi garnered 45.76 percent of the vote to Siegel’s 54.24 percent, according to the Texas election results put out by the Texas Secretary of State’s office.
The Indian-American Houston native, father of three, addressed voters on Facebook the night of July 14, saying, he would be calling Siegel to concede the election.
But in a moving speech on Facebook, Gandhi said he recognized his defeat was not something supporters feel good about, but he was not disappointed.
“I entered the race for a couple of reasons,” Gandhi said, one of them was the trauma he saw many of his young patients go through because their parents were “terrified of being deported,” during the various immigration bans during the last few years.
“And the second (reason to run) … I knew where I was the day someone told me to go back to where I came from. I know the exact spot where I was standing. I still feel the humid air that night and I can feel the rage of that person … who was yelling at me. ”
“They didn’t know that I would come back to where I came from,” Gandhi said referring to his home state of Texas.
“Ultimately, this campaign was driven by the idea that all of us have ownership of this nation,” and that skin color had no place. He also said the U.S. Congress needed not just racial and ethnic diversity, but also others like scientists and doctors etc.
“I will go back to my clinic, put on my N95 mask, and get back to treating my patients,” who he said came from zip codes that are ignored by all administrations be they Democratic or Republican.
“Please run for something else, the U.S. has missed out on you and wil be worse off because of it,” one Erin Hall said on Facebook during Gandhi’s Facebook speech.
Bharati Kundur, also a physician, commented, “proud of the race you ran and how you ran your campaign, proud of you and more so as fellow physician. yes its not the end of this journey and I hope you run for office again soon!.”
Ashok Shah said, “Proud of your passionate campaign of ideas and values.. now you have thousands rooting and waiting for your future plans-”
In an earlier interview with News India Times during his campaign, Gandhi said he was deeply influenced by the year he spent in India as a Fulbright Scholar 15 years ago, working on a literacy and education program and an urban landfill at a non-profit.
“I realized that systems are designed to produce the very outcomes that many of us advocate against,” Gandhi told News India Times. “What that meant for me was that to truly make an impact on marginalized populations, we need to have them at the table when the systems are designed.”
“So for me, as a physician, seeing the day-to-day struggles of these communities had a profound impact,” determining his decision to return to the U.S. to get his public health degree and his medical degree. Gandhi did medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine and serves as a primary care physician at a community clinic.
The Austin American Statesman has endorsed Gandhi, saying, “District 10 Democrats have a tough choice, but in our view Gandhi has the greatest potential to move the needle in Congress.”
The primary runoff between Gandhi and Siegel was originally scheduled for May 26, but postponed by Gov. Gregg Abbott because of the threat of COVID-19.