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US polls: Nikki Haley, Tulsi Gabbard re-elected

By Aziz Haniffa/ George Joseph/ Ritua Jha
Last updated on: November 05, 2014 18:47 IST
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South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Indian-American governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley has registered a convincing win.

Hindu-American Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard coasts to a rollicking re-election victory in Hawaii's 2nd District.

Rep Sabi Kumar is the first Indian in Tennessee House.

Connecticut State Representative Dr Prasad Srinivasan has been re-elected for a third term.

Latha Mangipudi was re-elected to the New Hampshire State House from Ward 8 constituency’s Aziz Haniffa and George Joseph report on the US mid-term election results.

Indian-American Nikki Haley was on Wednesday re-elected to a second term as South Carolina's Governor after registering a convincing win over her nearest Democratic rival, raising her profile in the Republican party.

The 42-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants was declared elected with an impressive 57.8 per cent of the votes, with her rival Vincent Sheheen trailing behind with less than 40 per cent of the votes.

She is only the second Indian-American governor in the United States, the other being fellow Republican Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

Haley, South Carolina's first minority and first female governor, already is a familiar figure. The victory has raised her profile in the Republican Party at the national level.

During the election campaign, top Republican leaders, including the former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and the Governors of Louisiana and New Jersey -- Jindal and Chris Christie -- respectively, had canvassed for her.

Haley is considered one of the most popular governors in the US. She rose more than $8 million (about Rs 49 crore) in her re-election campaign.

Haley will visit India later this month leading a high-powered South Carolina trade delegation. 

Hindu-American Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Photograph: Thos Robinson/Getty Images

Tulsi Gabbard, the only Hindu member of the US Congress, was today re-elected from a Hawaii seat as she trounced her nearest rival by a wide margin.

Gabbard, a 33-year-old rising star in the Democratic Party, was first elected to the US House of Representatives in 2012. She was re-elected to the Congress from Hawaii's 2nd District, defeating Republican Kawika Crowley.

Her victory comes after earlier this week Gabbard was called for active duty by the National Guard for which she is a reservist to help with a volcanic eruption in Hawaii.

Gabbard serves as a Military Police Captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

A strong advocate of India-US relationship, she has been endorsed by Hindu American Political Action Committee.

She met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York in September and presented him a copy of the holy Gita on which she had taken her Congressional oath in January 2013.

In a debacle for Barack Obama and his Democratic Party, Republicans today gained control of the US Senate and increased its majority in the House of Representatives in a sweeping midterm election win that could complicate the President's final two years in office. 


Dr Sabi Kumar

Dr Sabi Kumar

With a resounding victory in the Republican Primary and later the withdrawal of the Democratic opponent from election from District 66, Dr Sabi Kumar of Springfield, was assured of a seat in Tennessee State House of Representatives weeks ago.

Once the election is over, Representative Sabi ‘Doc’ Kumar looks forward to serving in the Tennessee Legislature. He is the first Indian to become a member of the House in Tennessee when the legislative session begins in 2015. Kumar, a surgeon, has served in Springfield for 37 years.

“It has been a remarkable journey. Considering that I came to this community as an adult immigrant, the mere fact that I could run for public office is a reward in itself. But, to win the election is indeed an honor. I am fortunate to live in a wonderful community. It is truly a great country that we live in,” he said.

He said he will donate his legislative salary to charities and will not accept any per diem payments to demonstrate his commitment to fiscally conservative principles.

A native of Punjab and graduate of Amritsar Medical College, he is the son of a physician father. His mother too served as a public health nurse in Punjab. He said that he ran for election to give back to the community.

Having grown up in smaller villages and communities in India, he said, he understood from an early age the importance of neighbours and community. “In Springfield, people were and remain very kind to me. This community has given me everything I have,” Kumar said.

His campaign focused on improving education, the economy and healthcare. He credits education as the primary reason for his success. “Growing up in India, my mother made sure I understood the importance of education and hard work. I am where I am today because of my education, and what my mother did for me.”

He also believes that health care should be available to Americans at a reasonable cost. ‘This was the promise of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) but the results are quite different. As your State Representative, I will work toward changes that help people,’ he promised.

Connecticut State Representative Dr Prasad Srinivasan

Dr Prasad Srinivasan

Connecticut State Representative Dr Prasad Srinivasan has been re-elected for a third term to the State House. Srinivasan, a Republican, was unopposed.

His opponents were ‘scared’ to put up a candidate against Srinivasan, a medical doctor who has a proven track record for serving all people in the state, per his supporters. Even Democrats supported his candidacy.

He started an aggressive campaign early on -- in June. He went to meet people at corner shops and bus stations and knocked on many doors.

“It all made loud and clear that I was not taking any chances or sitting idle,” Srinivasan said. “With an extra push in campaign, I could create doubts in the minds of possible opponents.”

The state is traditionally Democratic, but he expects the Republican gubernatorial candidate Thomas C Foley might defeat incumbent Governor Dannel Malloy.

In the state senate too, the difference between the Democrats and Republican might be narrowed down with more Republicans winning. The State House will still be controlled by the Democrats, though more Republicans might win. The Democrats have 100 representatives in the House; Republicans have 51.

Srinivsasan said he was extremely happy with what he achieved in the last four years in the assembly.

“When so many Democrats come to me to appreciate my work I feel touched,” he said. “I did not work in a partisan manor, but worked for all, for the right causes for the people.”

He called legislation to revamp the emergency medical service a major achievement. The EMS system was governed by a 50-year-old law that gave the state government the authority. The towns and its elected leaders felt slighted without any say in such a vital service

Srinivasan introduced a bill to give the control of EMS to towns with an oversight of the state government. Srinivasan was able to garner bipartisan support for the bill, despite opposition from ambulance companies.

In his first term, he challenged the leadership of both parties when he successfully fought against a bill that would have made it easy to sue doctors. He mobilised the medical community and approached each legislator to defeat the bill.

He had called it “my shining moment in the legislature” then.

He started his second term in the State House with the Legislator of the Year award from the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians. He considers efforts to prevent a hike in the water charges as another major achievement.

He said he is worried that the Indian community is not taking an active role in politics, even though they excel in all other areas.

“When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited New York, one could see the power of the community and the caliber of many individuals. But they are not seen in the public life in the US, where policies are made which affects us all,” he said.

He still practices medicine, though working hours are reduced. “I could balance my different roles in life. I have not seen it as a problem,” he said. In the next term, he said, his focus will be on improving the business climate in the state, and growing rates of health care. He said he would welcome the repealing of ‘Obamacare’ by a Republican administration.

A graduate of BarodaMedicalCollege, he is a physician in private practice treating adult and pediatric patients with allergies and has been serving the Hartford area for more than 30 years.

He came to the US in 1975 and did his pediatric residency at BrookdaleHospital in Brooklyn, New York, and fellowship in allergy and immunology at MichaelReeseHospital in Chicago. He is actively involved with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and has served as regional director, treasurer, and secretary.

He is one of the ‘pillars’ of the Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society. His wife Kala is a musician and teacher. Their son Sashank is a physician at HarvardMedicalSchool, and daughter Anusha is a financial professional.

Latha Mangipudi being reelected to the New Hampshire State House from Ward 8 constituency

Latha Mangipudi

Latha Mangipudi, 43, Democrat, was re-elected to the New Hampshire State House from Ward 8 constituency. “In for another term! As the highest vote getter with 1,571 votes! -- feeling excited,” she posted on Facebook.

There were only 165 Indians among the voters.

“The response from the people is phenomenal. How wonderful the community is! Many said they appreciated the work I do. People are very welcoming,” she had said earlier.

She started her public life as a co-president of the parent and teachers organisation at the BicentennialElementary School in 1996. Later, she became a member of the Nashua School Board from 2002-2004.

She works as a speech-language pathologist

In the Indian community, she has worked as a volunteer coordinator of Chinmaya Maruti for about 10 years, and coordinated cultural education for children in Nashua. Later as a member of the board of directors, she actively participated in the decisions for building a new cultural center in Andover, Massachusetts.

From 2002-2013 she served as the New Hampshire chapter chairperson of the US India Political Action Committee and also as chairperson of Akshaya Patra chapter.

She came to the US in 1986, and has lived in New Hampshire since 1989 with her husband Krishna Mangipudi, a computer professional and two children -- Sarayu and Vikas. 

She has a Masters in speech and hearing from the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing in India. She completed her clinical certification at the Massachusetts Eye and EarHospital in 1988.  

Aruna Miller with Kumar Barve. Photo coutrtesy Aruna MIller for India Abroad

Maryland House Majority Leader Kumar Barve, the longest-serving and first-ever state legislator, who was first elected in 1990, and Aruna Miller, the first Indian American woman elected to the state's House of Delegates -- both Democrats -- won the re-election handily.

Barve and Miller, both representing Montgomery County, were victorious in Maryland's District 17 and District 15 respectively.

But both of them did not rejoice their comfortable margins, because Democratic Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, who was expected to be easily elected the new governor of Maryland, suffered a big defeat to Republican businessman Larry Hogan, a relative unknown till recently. Hogan will succeed Democrat Martin O'Malley.

What was even more surprising was Hogan's margin of victory -- by 52 per cent to 46 per cent in the traditionally Democratic state. If Brown had won, he would have created history by becoming the state's first African American governor.

Miller told that Brown's loss was "such horrible news."

The seniormost Indian American in the state government, Dr Rajan Natarajan was likely to hold an even senior position in the administration had Brown won. A deputy secretary of state for external affairs in the O'Malley administration, he would now find himself out of a job.

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Aziz Haniffa/ George Joseph/ Ritua Jha