Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Ami Bera, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi will serve on Capitol Hill
By Geeta Goindi
Washington, DC, November 9, 2016 – Setting a record and shining a bright light in the most contentious US election, five brilliant Indian-Americans have been elected to the US Congress. Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Ami Bera, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi will all serve on Capitol Hill, paving the way for other Indian-Americans to be elected to the highest legislative body in the land.
It is noteworthy that for the first time, Indian-American women have been elected to Congress. Interestingly, all the Indian-origin lawmakers are Democrats!
Harris, 52, is the first Indian-American woman to hold a seat in the US Senate, and speculation is rife that she could, one day, be elected to the highest office in the land! The progressive state attorney general deftly defeated Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and will now represent California in the upper chamber of Congress. She succeeds liberal icon Barbara Boxer who is retiring after serving 24 years in the US Senate.
President Obama has described Harris as a “fearless fighter for the people”.
She is the daughter of immigrants: her mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer specialist, is from India; and her father, Donald Harris, a Stanford University economics professor, is a Jamaican-American.
Jayapal has become the first Indian-American woman elected to the US House of Representatives. A Washington state senator, she won by a landslide securing 57 percent of the vote, handily defeating fellow Democrat Brady Walkinshaw. She succeeds Congressman Jim McDermott, a founding member and former Democratic Co-Chair of the House India Caucus, and will represent Washington’s 7th District encompassing most of Seattle as well as neighboring areas.
Jayapal was born in India and immigrated to the US when she was 16. To combat hate and discrimination against South Asian Americans and other minorities in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she founded an organization called the Hate Free Zone which was later re-named OneAmerica and grew into a major immigrant advocacy group. In 2013, she was recognized for her efforts by President Obama and honored as a White House ‘Champion of Change’.
Congressman Bera of California, Democratic Co-Chair of the House India Caucus, has been re-elected for a third term. He defeated his Republican rival, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, in a highly competitive race capturing 51 percent of the vote. Earlier this year, he played a lead role in facilitating Prime Minister Modi’s address to a joint session of Congress, a packed event which was a personal triumph for him.
Khanna has ousted Democratic incumbent Mike Honda from California’s 17th District seat. The 40-year-old lawyer had a substantial 59.4 percent lead over his opponent who has served in Congress for 16 years. He will now represent a District which includes most of Silicon Valley, a high-tech haven.
Krishnamoorthi has become the first Hindu Indian-American elected to the US House.
In a recent video, President Obama had urged Americans in the 8th Congressional District of Illinois to vote for his “good friend” Raja Krishnamoorthi who is running for Congress. In the video, Obama disclosed, “When I ran for the US Senate, Raja helped me develop ideas for building an economy that works for everyone. Now, Raja’s plans will help small businesses grow, raise wages, and help families pay for college”.
The video features a photo of the President having lunch at Krishnamoorthi’s parents’ home in Peoria, Illinois, in 2002.