Indian American politicians rake in cash

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Indian American candidates are emerging as a fundraising force for the 2012 US elections, raking in cash from a well-heeled and tight-knit community seeking to expand its political influence, according to a media report.

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While Indian Americans have established themselves in a wide range of professional fields over the last half-century, matching that success in politics has proved elusive, Politico, an influential Washington newspaper, reported.

The current crop of prolific Indian-American cash-raisers include congressional hopefuls like Ami Bera, a California physician, Raja Krishnamoorthi, a former Illinois deputy state treasurer, and 24-year-old Ricky Gill, a University of California at Berkeley law student, Politico said.

Bera has raised over $545,000 this year and is one of the top-grossing Democratic candidates in the country, Gill hauled in $446,000 during the second quarter and Krishnamoorthi raised $400,000 plus during the same period.

In establishing their campaigns, the candidates are benefiting from a built-in base of donors who are invested in their political fortunes, Politico said.

It’s a donor network that allows Indian American contenders to rack up impressive fundraising hauls early in their efforts, it said, citing those involved with the campaigns.

However, to date just two Indian Americans have been elected to Congress: Dalip Singh Saund, a California Democrat who served in the House from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, and now-Louisiana’s Republican governor Bobby Jindal, who served from 2004 to 2007, it noted.

Indian Americans had a taste of success in 2010, when South Carolina Republican Nikki Haley, who is of Sikh heritage, became the second Indian American governor in US history; and California Democrat Kamala Harris, who is half Indian, was elected state attorney general.

But each of the six Indian Americans, including Pennsylvania Democrat Manan Trivedi and Kansas Democrat Raj Goyle, waging congressional campaigns fell short.

New York Democrat Reshma Saujani, the first Indian American woman to run for Congress, lost big in a primary against Carolyn Maloney.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])