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US polls: 2 Goyals make history
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC & George Joseph in New York | November 08, 2006 10:00 IST
Last Updated: November 08, 2006 17:02 IST
Two Goyals created history in US polls by winning to the state assemblies in Ohio and Kansas, taking Indian-American representation to the heartland of America.
With their victory, Indians have got representation in six state legislatures (New Jersey, Maryland, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas and Ohio) in addition to the US Congress through Representative Bobby Jindal.
26-year old Jay Goyal, Democrat, defeated Phillip Holloway in the 73rd District in Ohio with 22,695 votes (63.29 per cent) against 13,164 (36.71 per cent) votes.
The seat was held by Representative Sherrod Brown, a friend of India, who won to the US Senate.
In the 87th district in Kansas, Democrat Raj Goyle, 31, beat three-term Representative Bonnie Huy.
Goyle had 56.36 per cent of the votes (3216 votes) while Huy got 43.64 per cent (2490).
"This is a great day. I am humbled by the trust of the voters in me," Goyle told rediff.com after the victory.
Minnesota State Senator Satveer Chaudhary, a Democrat who represents Fridley, has retained his seat in District 50, earning 64 per cent of the votes in the US polls.
Though fellow Republicans are facing rout in several states in the US, Congressman Bobby Jindal won the race to Congress from the 1st District in Louisiana, leaving only a few votes to the opponents. He got 87.9 percent of the votes. (71,493). His three opponents together got only less than 11,000 votes.
Iowa State Representative Swati Dandekar, 53, won for the third time to the Iowa State Assembly from the 36 District in Marion. She defeated her Republican opponent Nick Wagner with a margin of more than 10 per cent of the votes polled.
Maryland became the first state to send two south Asians to the state legislature when it elected State House Majority Leader Kumar Barve from the 17th District and Saqib Ali from the 39th District. Both are Democrats.
Endorsing Barve, the Washington Post said, "Democratic incumbents Kumar P Barve and Luiz Simmons are top-flight legislators who know how to press for progressive programs. Barve is especially valuable as the deft House majority leader who has been chairman of the county delegation."
Ali is a Pakistani-American, who was also endorsed by Washington Post. He got 14,922 votes (21 per cent). Endorsing him the Post said, "Political newcomer Saqib Ali has shown good command of issues and would bring new vigor to this district's delegation."
31-year-old Ali is a software engineer with Mitre Corp. "'I have been a vocal antiwar activist for years. I will bring energetic, effective leadership to Annapolis. New ideas and faces are good for democracies," he said earlier.
A third candidate Dilip Paliath, a Republican lost in the 42nd District. Paliath's mentor, Governor Robert Ehrlich also lost the election.
In a statement Goyle said, "Tomorrow morning I will wake up and get to work to make Wichita the best city in the nation. You deserve better representation in Topeka. That's why I ran to represent east Wichita in the Kansas House of Representatives."
"My entire life has been dedicated to public service and I will work tirelessly to bring Wichitans together -- not drive them apart -- and make Wichita the best city in the nation.
"The State House desperately needs a new generation of leadership willing to solve problems, not create them. With your help, we will build a stronger community for all Wichitans," he said.
He spent more than $50,000 for the campaign.
Republicans sent out flyers highlighting the names of several of Goyle's contributors who live in Washington, DC.
The ads link the donors to groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for American Progress, both viewed as liberal organisations.
The aim was to show the voters that outside interests are involved. But that strategy did not succeed.
Goyle said that more than 70 per cent of Huy's money comes from lobbyists. Goyle went door-to-door canvassing for the polls.
His parents operate a medical clinic that has created over 50 jobs and provides top quality care for the community.
He is a Harvard Law School graduate and has worked as an attorney.
Hiis wife Monica is also an fellow attorney born and raised in New York. They married in July 2004. Currently, he teaches in a college.
Jay Goyal is the vice president of Goyal Industries and a industrial engineer educated at Northwestern.
Goyal was endorsed by the Mansfield News Journal. The opponent carried out a negative campaign claiming Goyal would tax school lunches and prescription drugs. The newspaper blasted the opponent for this.
Endorsing Goyal the paper noted, "Goyal worked hard to win the Democratic primary in May and has, he said, "knocked on 10,000 doors" to meet voters.
"Holloway, 59, has amassed a wealth of experience during 24 years as an aide to US Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Findlay, and previously as a Mansfield City Council member. Two good men with a sincere desire to serve. That said, we endorse Goyal to succeed state Rep. Bill Hartnett. The legislature needs new ideas and fresh approaches to solving problems and we believe Goyal will contribute to them."
Goyal is a member of the American Railroad Engineering and Maintenance Association and belongs to the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers Committee on Railroad Electrification where he is a working group chair.
Goyal is chairman of the Richland County Democrat Party's Membership Enhancement Committee, co-founder of the Ohio Heartland Young Democrats, and served as the county director for the Kerry for presidential campaign.
Additionally, he was named the Richland County 2004 Democrat of the Year.
Goyal has also passed the United States State Department's Foreign Service written examination.
Goyal was born and raised in Mansfield, Ohio, and graduated from Lexington High School where he was elected class president for four years.
His father Prakash is the founder and president of Goyal Industries. His mother Kiran is an investment advisor with KeyBank and McDonald's Investments.
His sister, Anjali lives in New York and works for a non-profit organisation that promotes Asian-American literature.
When he was elected to the state House of Representatives, Chaudhary became the first Asian-American to be elected to the Minnesota Legislature, and four year later, his election to the state Senate, made him the state's first Asian-American Senator.
"It is really satisfying. The fight was tough as the Republicans spent lot of money for the campaign," Dandekar said after the victory. "They used negative tactics. But we ran our campaign on a positive platform. Many people appreciated our approach. I thank all my friends and the community who stood behind me in the campaign," Dandekar said.
Nothing much has changed in 36 District in Marion with more than 20,000 voters, most of whom are whites, in recent years.
The district has more registered Republicans. Her opponent, Wagner, a 32 year old controls engineer is a Marion City Council -- At Large member. Last time it was a 21 year old political novice who learned a lesson from the voters.
When she contested the election for the first time, her opponent focused on her Indian origin. It became a controversy forcing the Republican Party to dissociate itself with their own candidate.
She earlier said she has several achievements to her credit as a lawmaker. "I was part of many decisions that made the quality of education to go up. We expect better results in ACT examinations soon."
"The salary of the teachers was increased. The teachers were getting one of the lowest salaries in the nation. As a former teacher I know their plight," she said.
Dandekar was part of several decisions that have resulted in a better economy. "I was the lead sponsor of a law for keeping a sex offender registry," she said.
Life has not changed much in the last four years as a lawmaker, she said. "My two sons are grown up. My husband Arvind has given his full support for my work. So I love the work as a lawmaker and helping people."
She is quite thankful for the support from the Indian community. She named several Indian-Americans who came forward to help her campaign financially.
Unlike many others, incumbency has given more legitimacy to her and people look at her with admiration, and not with suspicion as when she approached the voters for the first time.
She was recently awarded the Passport to Prosperity at a colorful event at the State Historical Building by Iowa Council for International Understanding.
She recounted her experience and said she dreamed of becoming a scientist or a CEO of a company. "I never imagined I would in Iowa or in politics," Dandekar said.
She said she came to the United States in February of 1973 as a newlywed. "When we left Nagpur, it was 98 degrees out, and it was 10 below in Cedar Rapids," she said, adding she had walked off the plane in sandals.
Dandekar who got her high school diploma from the J N Tata Parsi School, Nagpur, earned a Postgraduate diploma in Dietetics from Bombay University in 1972.
But Peter Raj Bhakta, another Republican conesting to Congress from the 13th district of Pennsylvania is far behind getting only around 35 percent of the votes counted so far.
In Virginia's 10th Dirstict, Neeraj Nigam, a computer systems analyst working in Washington, DC, failed to get many votes. He ran for Congress as an independent.
Republican incumbent Frank Wolf won the election. Nigam got a few hundred votes only.
In New Jersey, Senator Bob Memndez, Democrat, a favorite of the Indian community, retained the US Senate seat defeating Thomas Kean, son of former governor and the chairman of the 9/11 commission.
In Connecticut, Senator Joe Lieberman won as an independent defeating Ned Lamont, who trounced him in the Democratic primary a few weeks back. Most of the Republicans voted for Lieberman, who supports the Iraq war and many policies of President George Bush.
In Delaware, in a rematch of the 2002 election, Democratic House candidate Prameela D Kaza lost to Republican incumbent Nancy Wagner in the Dover-area 31st District again. Wagner is a state representative since 1992.
In Louisiana, Jindal got more than 40,000 votes while his three opponents together got less than 6,000 votes. The counting is still going on.
Jindal spent more than $2.3 million, more than any other candidate.
He bought advertising time in Baton Rouge triggering allegations by opponents that it was a sign of his intentions to pursue a gubernatorial bid next year. But Jindal spokesman Trey Williams denied it.
His Democratic opponents, Stacey Tallitsch spent about $33,000 till the end of October and David Gereighty spent about $20,000 only.
The 1st District includes all of St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes, portions of Orleans, St. Charles and West Jefferson and most of East Jefferson.
Endorsing Jindal, the Times Picayune said that Jindal "brings an impressive level of intelligence and energy to everything he does, and that has been true during his first term in Congress. Although he was a newcomer to elected office, he quickly established himself as a leader in Washington.
"Post-Katrina he has distinguished himself by stepping up the push to get Louisiana a share of offshore oil revenues. The effort has been ongoing for years, but thanks to Rep. Jindal and other members of Louisiana's congressional delegation, Congress seems to be moving closer to an agreement on revenue sharing. Rep. Jindal's ambitious proposal has given the state a shot at getting a more substantial share of revenes, and he deserves credit for aiming high.
"Rep. Jindal serves on the Homeland Security and the Education and the Workforce committees, which has put him in a good position post-Katrina. His extensive background in health-care policy also is a plus. He has put his talents and energy to good use in his first two years in Congress, and he deserves another term," the paper said.
In Delaware, Kaza contested on the theme of change, but voters preferred an old hand.
In 2002. she got 40 percent (2,000) votes as against 60 percent (2,500) to Wagner. This time she got 45.5 percent votes (2361.) Wagner got 54.5 percent (2829)
In the 31st District, which is in Kent County, the number of voters was around 10,000. There are 4,500 registered Democrats, while registered Republicans are only 3200.
Kaza, who came to the US in 1986 from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, has a background of working with several community organizations
The lackluster performance of Bhakta was not surprising as the incumbent US Senator Rick Santorum himself lost to the Democratic wave on the state.
Bhakta, who became a celebrity after the Donald Trump television show The Apprentice, created lot of noise in the political arena with his campaign style and was also attacked for his Indian background.
Representative Allyson Schwartz, who was running for re-election for the first time won.
Bhakta shocked pundits when he was endorsed by the Republican Party overlooking a wealthy lawyer and a seasoned politician.
"I'm not your typical Republican," he claimed earlier. He vowed to term limit himself to three terms if elected. "Frankly I believe, whether you are a Republican or Democrat, when one serves too much time in public office, you become part of the very system you are supposed to check for corruption."
Schwartz is one of the most liberal members of the Congress. Before being elected to the Congress, two years ago, she served in various capacities in state offices for almost two decades.
His father, Bharat Bhakta is in hotel and real estate business and mother Mary, a native of Ireland is a homemaker. Bhakta says he loves India and had been to India several times. His grandmother runs two schools in Gujarat.
In New York, Democrat Ellen Young, a Taiwanese-American won from District 22 in Flushing for the New York State Assembly.
The district has a large number of Indian-Americans and a sizeable number has rallied behind Young, a businesswoman.
The other being Jackson Heights, in Queens. Both were carved out from other districts to give a majority to the Asian voters.
Though Asians are 10 per cent of New York City's population, only one Asian-American -- John Liu from Flushing --could become a city council member so far.
Two years ago Jimmy Meng, also a Taiwanese became assemblyman from Flushing, making him the first Asian there.
He did not contest this time due to health reasons. Young is a protege of Liu. She was endorsed by New York Times and several unions.
"I am most grateful to the voters of the Flushing. Today they gave me the awesome responsibility of serving them in the State Capitol. Their faith is humbling, and I will not let them down in the Assembly. When I make the trip to Albany every week, my constituents will never be far from my thoughts," Young said after the victory.