Nikki Haley may win South Carolina governor race

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Monday, November 1, 2010

WASHINGTON - The fate of a record seven Indian-Americans, six of them Democrats, hangs in balance in Tuesday’s elections with US President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party expected to lose seats in both chambers. But Republican Nikki Haley, born Nimrata (Nikki) Randhawa to Sikh immigrant parents from Amritsar, is favoured to win the governor’s race of South Carolina.

She is widely expected to defeat Democratic nominee, state Senator Vince Sheheen. If she wins, she’ll be America’s second Indian-American governor after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, who became the first with his election three years ago.

Democrat Kamala Harris, San Francisco District Attorney is in a statistical 39 percent-38 percent tie with Republican Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County District Attorney for California attorney general, according to a Field Poll released Saturday.

Over 2.8 million Indian Americans will also be watching with interest half a dozen races to the US Congress that has seen only a couple of them elected to date. The first was three-term Representative Dalip Singh Saund, who won back in 1956.

Then, for almost 50 years, there was no one else until Jindal, was elected to the House after his first failed run for governor. He left office in 2007 and went on to win the state’s top job.

A record half-dozen Indian Americans - all Democrats - mounted runs this year for the House of Representatives. Hedge fund lawyer Reshma Saujani lost in her primary challenge to nine-term Represenative Carolyn Maloney in New York, but has vowed to run again in 2012.

The others face uphill general election bids in districts in California, Kansas, Louisiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Amerish “Ami” Bera, 45, a physican and medical school administrator whose California district includes Sacramento, has raised more money than sitting Republican Congressman Dan Lungren. But he still faces a tough race ahead.

Lawyer and State Representative, Raj Goyle, 35, of Wichita, Kansas Raj Goyle is running in an open seat against Republican Mike Pompeo.

Attorney Ravi Sangisetty, 28, of Houma, Louisiana, whose rural district takes in 13 southeastern parishes, is running in an open seat against Republican Jeff Landry of New Iberia.

Manan Trivedi, a former Navy surgeon who served in the Iraq war as an officer in a unit which experienced the first war casualty, is giving a tough challenge to four time Representative Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania’s 6th District.

And Surya Yalamanchili, 28, a Procter & Gamble marketing executive in eastern Cincinnati, is challenging Republican Jean Schmidt seeking her third full term in Congress.

But another South Asian is considered a shoo-in. Hansen Clarke, 53, a resident of Detroit and son of a Bangladeshi-American father and an African-American mother, has been a Michigan state senator since 2002.

His primary win in August against seven-term Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, mother of Kwame Kilpatrick, the disgraced Detroit mayor who is now in prison for corruption, practically assures him victory in the majority Democratic and African-American district.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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