Indian Americans are claiming their place in the 2020 elections

Ritu Jha-

Despite the looming fear around the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian Americans flocked to the polling stations on Tuesday, November 3 for the general election.

Even though before election day, a record number of Americans had cast mail-in ballots, accounting for more than 70 percent of the total votes in 2016. But there are many like Arti and her husband Gopal, both residents of San Ramon, California who were standing in line to vote at the polling station in San Ramon.

The couple, who wanted to go by their first name, told indica News that this is their third time voting in person and they like coming to the polling station to cast their ballots.

A poll worker assisting a voter in San Ramon, California on general election day, Nov.3, 2020. Photo credit: indica News.

The couple denied to disclose party preference but said their focus is more on the local city and state issues rather than national issues.

Abhipri Chowdhury, 17, a poll worker who was offering sanitizer to each person in line before they were allowed to enter the polling room, said she likes politics so she wanted to volunteer without fearing COVID-19, the virus that has killed 232,529 people in the country and infected 9,376,293 others, as well as upended the lives and work for millions.

Though the Presidential results are still looming, most of the results about candidates running at the House, Assembly, and the city level are out.

In California, both Indian-American incumbent US representatives Ami Bera and Ro Khanna won in the Tuesday, Nov. 3 general election.

“We are still waiting to hear the official announcement, but we are very excited about promising results in Dr. Hiral Tipirneni’s race. And first-time members like Nikil Saval and Jenifer Rajkumar are breaking barriers in their states.”

Bera, a Democrat of Elk Grove and a fifth term in Congress from the seventh Congressional District of California, bagged over 62 percent of the votes against his rival Republican candidate Buzz Patterson who received 41,868 votes.

Khanna, who entered the House of Representatives for the first time in 2018, received an overwhelming 76.2 percent of the votes in the open primary for the 17th Congressional District of California. His closest rival, Republican Ritesh Tandon received 41,868 votes.

Khanna was endorsed by the Impact Fund while Tandon was brought into the race by the Indian American community leaders who once supported Khanna.

Tandon thanked the people who supported him but said might have to look deeper into the race. He said he is not satisfied with the counting and would even challenge Khanna if needed.

“I see 100,000 votes are missing,” Tandon told indica News and added that there were “22.9 k absentee ballots I would like to track as well.”

Tandon pointing to the Cupertino schools in trouble, “We need to ensure that no schools are permanently closed in my district. We need to find a permanent solution for homeless people and much more.”

Tandon continued, “As a man of faith, I believe we should serve others and stand up for those that are unable to fight for themselves. It is time we reject special-interest politics and embrace community service.”

Raja Krishnamoorthi was considered a very formidable candidate, but the Republican Party did not put a candidate up against him in Illinois. He defeated the Libertarian Party candidate by 41.8 percent.

Indian-born Pramila Jayapal won in Washington State defeating her Republican Party rival by a huge margin of 69.6 percent. A fierce progressive and champion for working people, she is the first elected in 2016, she is a trailblazer as the first South Asian woman elected to the House of Representatives.

Hiral Tipirneni, an Indian American running for the House in Arizona was leading the incumbent Republican David Schweikert by 50.3% percent of the votes.

However, Democrat, Rishi Kumar running from California Congressional District 18, another first-timer runner, received 75,945 votes, whereas his rival, also a Democratic, Anna G. Eshoo received 148,654 percent of the votes.

Another first-timer is Republican Nisha Sharma, a candidate from California Congress District 11, who couldn’t make it through.

Standings in State Offices

Assembly District 27 Democratic incumbent assembly member Ash Kalra was the top vote-getter with 73,987 whereas his Republican contender G. Burt Lancaster earned just 25,390.

In California’s State Assembly 29th District, Indian-American physician Dr. Shomir Banerjee, a Republican, trailed Democratic incumbent Mark Stone who won with 150,774 votes.

At the state level, Niraj Antani was elected to the Ohio state Senate. He was a member of the state House of Representatives for three terms having been first elected when he was only 23 years old, becoming one of the youngest legislators in the country.

In New York, Kevin Thomas, a sitting state Senator was re-elected.

Film-maker Mira Nair’s son, Zohran Mamdani won a New York State Assembly seat, as did fellow-Democrat Jenifer Rajkumar.

City Mayor Race

Despite running an exciting campaign, all four Indian American candidates came up short to win the San Ramon Mayor seat.

Susmita Nayak, Sanat Sethy, Aparna Madireddi, and Dr. Dinesh Govindarao all lost the mayoral race seat to David Hudson, who is from the city of San Ramon.

However, Sridhar Verose, running for a council seat from San Ramon district 3 won by 2193 votes against his rivals Reza Majlesi, Varun Kaushal, and Sameera Rajwade.

Incumbent Raj Salwan from the city of Fremont won the council seat as well.

Sanjay Dave, school board candidate from Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District in California won the election.