By C. Subramanyam
WASHINGTON – One of the six Indian American candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives is likely to win, but that may not become clear until December – a month after the November 6th election.
The other five lost their races in a year when high turnout among ethnic minorities is credited with helping President Barack Obama hold off a challenge from Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Democrat Ami Bera, a physician in the Sacramento, California, area, retains a narrow lead over Republican incumbent Dan Lungren in the race for that state’s 7th Congressional District and is expected to become the third Indian American congressman ever elected to Congress.
But the race has yet to be decided because Lungren has refused to concede until all 193,000 uncounted votes have been tallied.
Indications are Bera will put off a victory.
On Election Night, he led by 184 votes. By Friday, his lead had increased to 1,779 votes as elections officials continued making slow progress in counting absentee, provisional and damaged ballots.
Having lost his bid to unseat Lungren in 2010, Bera sought a rematch this year. This time, independent groups unaffiliated with his campaign provided much-needed firepower for Bera, outspending Lungren’s allies by $2 million.
The Bera-Lungren race was one of the most expensive congressional contests in the country this year. California hosted the maximum number of competitive House races in this election cycle.
The liberal online site Daily Kos is raising money to help Bera pay his legal bills and meet related expenses if a vote recount becomes necessary.
The most noteworthy of the other five Indian American candidates was 25-year-old Ricky Gill, for whom serving in Congress would have been his first job out of college.
The 2012 law school graduate was also the only Republican among the six Indian American candidates and would have become the youngest House member if he’d won the race to represent California’s 9th Congressional District.
Instead, Gill lost to Democratic Representative Jerry McNerney handily — by 8 percentage points.
The others – Manan Trivedi in Pennsylvania, Upendra Chivakula in New Jersey, Jack Uppal in California and Dr. Syed Taj in Michigan – all lost by large margins.
Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, a Hindu who is not of Indian descent, easily won her House race in Hawaii.
The first Indian American to serve in Congress was Democrat Dalip Singh Saund. A native of Amritsar, Punjab, he came to the U.S. for higher studies in 1920 and represented an agricultural district in the U.S. House in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The second Indian American was Bobby Jindal, who served in the House from 2005 to 2008 before being elected governor of Louisiana. A conservative Republican, Jindal is considered a rising star within his party and is thought to be a possible presidential candidate in 2016 or later. (Global India Newswire)