Indian-American Congressman re-elected from Illinois, Congresswoman in Washington also wins

Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, with supporters. Krishnamoorthi won re-election Nov. 6 in the midterm elections. (Photo: Facebook)

The re-election victory of Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, was called early after polls closed in Illinois, in the U.S. midterm elections today. The first Indian-American to be on Capitol Hill from the state of Illinois, Krishnamoorthi represents the 8th District.

In an interview soon after, Krishnamoorthi told News India Times he hoped Democrats would get the majority in the House of Representatives, which would lead to a radical leadership change in all committees. As election results rolled in, talking heads predicted a House takeover by Democrats.

According to unofficial results declared by Associated Press, Krishnamoorthi won 66.3 percent of the vote against another Indian-American Republican J.D. Diganvker’s 33.7 percent, with 58 percent of the precincts reporting.

“It feels good,” Krishnamoorthi said. “The victory validates our approach in the first term. Where we disagreed with the President, we said so, but where we didn’t, we worked with the other side,” he said noting a Skills Training bill he took the leadership on and got passed in the House.

Results for some of the other Indian-American lawmakers on the West Coast, Reps. Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, in California, were yet to come in as this went to press. Associated Press reported Rep. Pramila Jayapal in Washington State would win, and with 76 percent of the precincts reporting, the first Indian-American woman to get into Congress, had won 83.4 percent of the vote to her opponent Craig Keller’s 16.6 percent.

New candidates like Sri Preston Kulkarni, a Democrat running in the 22nd Congressional District in Texas, and Hiral Tipirneni in Arizona’s 8th, made good showings, but as this went to press each of them was behind their Republican opponents. Kulkarni had 46.1 percent of the vote to incumbent Pete Olson’s 51.9 percent with 37 percent of the precincts reporting; Tipirneni had lost with 43.7 percent to incumbent Debbie (56.3 percent). The same fate awaited Anita Malik, who ran for Arizona’s 6th District, with 43.6 percent to Republican incumbent David Schweikert’s 56.4 percent. Needless to note, all these candidates braved Republican leaning districts because they believed voter mood may have shifted away from President Trump’s policies.

Sanjay Patel, candidate for Congress from Florida’s 8th Congressional District trailed with 39.4 percent, losing to incumbent Republican Bil Posey (60.6 percent).

“Regardless of what these results are for Indian-Americans, these races signify that Indian Americans are continuing to make gains,” Krishnamoorthi contended. “We should not at all be disappointed. I took the silver medal the first time I ran, and then I took the gold medal,” he said about his past efforts to win public office.

If the House of Representatives flips, as predicted, Krishnamoorthi said, he expected the ‘change of guard’ to bring more power and responsibilities in the hands of Democratic lawmakers including the four Indian-Americans if all of them are re-elected. “All of us, I hope, will have a greater role, a bigger voice. We bring a lot to the table,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Meanwhile, “the party started early” at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in his district, where Krishnamoorthi’s supporters gathered to celebrate his victory.

According to some estimates, close to 100 Indian-Americans are running for various offices up and down the ballot. Among them, Republican State Representative from Ohio Niraj Antani, who was also re-elected Nov. 6. The youngest Indian-American state elected official in Ohio history and the first Indian-American Republican, Antani will serve his third term in the state House.

Winning his seat again from State District 42, Antani expressed his appreciation for the vote. In a statement released to the media, Antani said, “Representing the community in which I was born and raised is an incredible honor. I work hard every day to make it achievable for all Ohioans to have the opportunity to make their American Dream a reality. Growing up as an Indian-American has greatly influenced my life, and I will continue to proudly represent our community.”

First elected at the age of 23, Antani is the youngest serving member in the Ohio State House today at the age of 27.