Kamala Harris First Indian-American To Win A US Senate Seat


Washington: Kamala Harris scripted history in the US on Wednesday by being the first Indian-American politician to win a Senate seat. Harris, a Democrat, won from California by defeating her Republican rival Loretta Sanchez.

52-year-old Harris has already won two state-wide elections for Attorney General in 2010 and 2014, which added to her edge in the Senate race.

In a historic day for Indian-Americans, Democratic candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi won the election to the US House of Representatives from Illinois.

He defeated Republican Peter DiCianni in the traditionally Democratic constituency. At the Democratic Party Convention in July, the party leadership presented him as a “New Leader of Tomorrow”.

Harris has a dual identity: She is also counted as an African American as her father is a Jamaican of African descent and she follows the Baptist faith.

She has also become the second American woman of African descent elected to the Senate and join the two other African Americans there. She derives her equal claim to Indian heritage from her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer specialist from Chennai.

Another Indian American Democrat Peter Jacob lost his bid for the House of Representatives from New Jersey.

The Kerala-born social worker lost by a margin of a 15 percent of the votes in the Seventh Congressional District in the middle of the state, which does not cover any of the areas with heavy Indian American presence.

Congressman Leonard Lance won re-election from the traditionally Republican constituency. But his votes were reduced from 59.25 per cent to 55 per cent.

Indian Americans also appear to be heading for a breakthrough in the House of Representatives, where more of them are expected to join the sole Indian American, Ami Bera from California.

At least two candidates for the House, Pramila Jayapal of Washington State, and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, have near-certain chances of winning, while Bera has shown a strong lead in the primary and that could see him re-elected.

Another candidate, Ro Khanna, who is running to represent the Silicon Valley, is reported to have a slim lead over the veteran incumbent Mike Honda.

All these candidates are Democrats and since the election of Republican Bobby Jindal to the House in 2004, no viable Indian American candidate for Congress has emerged in that party, although Nikki Haley, the current governor of South Carolina, belongs to it.

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