Indian Americans not united on California Governor Gavin Newsom


California Governor Gavin Newsom may have won the recall election but the Indian-American community in the state seemed split on the vote.

Manoj and his wife Pooja, both bio-technologists who drove to the polling center in San Ramon to vote, told indica News they wanted Newsom to go.

Manoj and his wife Pooja, both bio-technologists, drove to the polling center in San Ramon, California. iNDICA NEWS photograph

It’s a time we need a change,” Manoj said. “The way the state has been run by the governor in the last few years has been in only one direction. There is no balance in the government.”

Manoj said some of Newsom’s policies were “not very pro-families” and cited “legalizing of marijuana, immigration, the way he handled Covid last year, the California fires, and people leaving the state.”

Asked if he was Republican, Manoj insisted they both were independent.

California is a great state and it is blessed with great weather and a lot of innovation but at the same time, we need policies to stimulate that,” Manoj said.

It is not which party or racial ethnicity it’s about what policies you stand for. Policies should reflect the capitalist economy and we don’t believe in free socialist handouts. We need some change and an unfettered socialistic approach is not what we want.

Again, I think this has gone too long. We need a different mindset,” said Manoj.

Pooja agreed.

On coming to vote to the polling center, Pooja said that the mail-in ballot was not very transparent.

I strongly believe there should be a change,” she said, pointing to the “unnecessary gas tax, the rising toll on bridges, and raising costs without public consent.

Our salary is not going up and we are paying without getting any facility,” she said.

Kali, who runs several restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, told indica News he voted not to recall.

Newsom has many negative sides, and he did not do anything to support small business when it comes to renting… and mainly restaurants,” Kali said. “He knows we are badly hit, more than grocery stores. The pandemic might have ended but he did not take initiatives to support us. If an IT company is making 200 percent profit it doesn’t mean all are making profit,” he said.

We are unable to find people to work,” Kali said. “He should have stopped unemployment [benefits]. Whoever is getting benefits is trying to get a job under the table. We have to overpay under the table; these people are asking for cash.”

Asked what the governor should have done, Kali said: “The governor should have passed a strict law — the pandemic is over and he should ask people to go to work and stop unemployment [benefits].”

He is a state governor and has to implement laws across California. He could ask Uber and Doordash to charge 20 percent instead [of the 30 percent they charge restaurants],” Kali said.

Not all Indian Americans were unhappy with Newsom though.

Rajiv Bhateja, co-founder of They See Blue (members in photograph on top), a Silicon Valley-based national organization to mobilize South Asians in America, told indica News that Democrats in the community went all out in support of Newsom.

They have made phone calls, text banked, emailed, postcarded, and delivered flyers to voters, held signs at street corners, ran advertisements showed up at farmer’s markets, to create awareness to support Newsom,” Bhateja said.

The response from the South Asian community has been overwhelmingly positive. We encounter 50 pro-Newsom voters for every one anti-Newsom voter.

He added: “Of course we support Gavin Newsom. We’d be crazy to replace him with one of the clowns — being generous here — hoping to take his place with the leading contender, Larry Elder.

We’re voting our values. We can’t afford to mess up our beautiful state, the world’s 5th largest economy, our vibrant culture, diverse society, and our environment with a radio host who is manifestly ignorant with an ego to match,” Bhateja said.

Hina Ahmad of the Southern California-headquartered South Asian Network told indica News that the excitement among the voters was low, but “seeing that 14.5 percent of California is made of Asians, it is extremely important that we utilize the powerful tool of voting to raise our South Asian voices.”