Senator Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, has of late been recruiting a number of Indian-Americans and other Asian Americans into his campaign for the presidency.
In doing so he is heeding the warnings of experts and politicos in general, on both sides of the aisle — that this fastest-growing voter base has to be given a place at the table and could even possibly turn the fortunes of candidates for the White House.
In an opinion piece on NBCnews.com, Lindy Li, who heads the Asian American political outreach for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, warned Democrats that not all Asian-Americans were in sync with Democratic Party talking points such as Affirmative Action, or ‘socialism’ and they could play a key role in battleground states like Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan, and provide that margin of victory, a bare 80,000 votes nationwide, to catapult President Trump back into office.
“Democrats must make a concerted effort in 2020 to encourage them to vote and to convert the Trump supporters among them,” Lu said. Issues such as an Ivy League education, work requirement for Medicaid recipients, traditional marriage, etc. could swing the pendulum among a critical number of them, including Indian-Americans.
As Rep. Grace Meng, D-NY, also notes, the independent voter among Asian Americans, could make a difference between winning and losing the White House in 2020. Meng tweeted June 2, “If @TheDemocrats are going win, we need to continue organizing and continue our outreach into #AAPI communities every day. #AAPI2020.”
The more than two dozen Democratic candidates for president tout ‘diversity’ and recognize the clout Millennials could exercise, and Booker is publicizing that aspect possibly more than others by hiring politically savvy, somewhat younger generation of Indian-Americans around the country. (See List)
After declaring his candidacy in February, Booker went on to induct at least 14 Asian-Americans in various positions including his National Press Secretary Sabrina Singh, who provided the list of names to Desi Talk. Seven of the 14, are possibly of Indian or part-Indian origin, or other South Asian origin, going by the names.
Before joining Cory 2020, Singh worked at the DNC as the Deputy Communications Director and has years of media relations work under her belt.
“I’m proud to be building a campaign that reflects the rich diversity of our country,” Booker said in a statement sent to Desi Talk. “Being inclusive of the voices of members of the AAPI community has always been and will always be a top priority for me and my campaign,” Booker added. “From who we hire to how we engage with one another, we always seek to empower and uplift diverse voices and ensure everyone has a seat at the table. I’m extremely proud of the members of the AAPI community that make up this team,” Booker said.
In an earlier interview with this writer (newsindiatimes.com “Not Behind The Scenes, May 17, 2019), Singh had said her boss is governed by the dictum, “You can’t campaign wrong and yet govern right,”
“How you campaign should be how you govern. So he has made sure we represent different communities,” Singh told News India Times.
Sobaika Mirza, is Cory 2020’s director of human resources, recruited this March. On her LinkedIn profile, Mirza says she is, “Looking to bring out the best in systems and people. Cultivating a “culture of workplace excellence, warmth, and creativity”,”
Before joining Booker’s campaign, Mirza was Senior Operations Officer at Avaaz, a U.S.-based non-profit launched in 2007, that aims to promote global activism on issues such as climate change, human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty, and conflict. She lives in Levittown, N.Y. according to her MyLife.com profile.
Cory 2020’s State Operations Director in New Hampshire Shwetika Baijal, is a graduate of Boston University, who was born in New Delhi, raised in Bombay, and completed high school in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Prior to joining the presidential campaign, Baijal was a vice president at 50+1 Strategies, which specializes in strategic and management political consulting for candidates, causes and organizations, the website says.
Baijal also served as campaign director for the, Forward Progress Political Action Committee, funded by the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters in 2014; prior to that, she handled the field operations of Andria McClellan for State Senate in Norfolk, Virginia in 2013. McClellan lost the Democratic primary.
Cory 2020’s Iowa Political Director Rishi Bharwani is familiar with that state. He worked as the campaign manager for Amber Gustafson who ran for the State Senate in Iowa. Gustafson lost her race by a small margin of 3 percent.
Prior to that, from 2015 to 2018, Bharwani was the research manager for The Hub Project, which works “closely with partner organizations to propel issue-based campaigns that drive the public conversation and shift the debate,” according to its website.
Bharwani was also a senior political research analyst and research associate at Everytown For Gun Safety for a year and a half in 2014-2015. Everytown is a nonprofit advocating for gun control and against gun violence. Bharwani, a graduate of Long Island Lutheran High School, also worked as a volunteer teacher at Children’s Hope in India.
Iowa Field Organizer Deepak Jonnalagedda, also joined Cory 2020 this April. Prior to that he was a field organizer for the Iowa Democratic Party from July – Nov. 2018. A graduate of New Jersey Institute of Technology, Jonnalagedda worked at At&T as a software engineer, and as a research assistant at Rutgers.
On Twitter, Videographer for the Booker campaign, Yash Mori, describes himself as a “Digital strategist; Former Digital for @HillaryClinton; Made in India; Photographer; Filmmaker; Storyteller; Community Organizer.”
Apart from the Hillary For America campaign, Mori has worked with People’s Climate March, Democratic Governors Association, United We Dream, Latino Victory Fund, Unite Here!. Netroots Nation, and others, according to his website.
Meena Yi, is Cory 3030’s Director of Design and was also hired in April Previously, Yi was the Creative Director at New Paradigm Strategy Group; Prior to that for almost four years, she was the Senior Designer and then Design Director at the Democratic National Committee. She is a graduate of The Maryland Institute College of Art.
“The makeup of the Cory 2020 campaign staff reflects the diversity of this country, and I’m really proud to be a part of it,” Singh told Desi Talk. “It’s an honor to work for someone who not only believes in inclusive policies for the country, but who hires and empowers a diverse group of people in his staff.”