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Brown Wave: A Record Number of South Asian Americans Register Historic Wins in State Senate and Assembly Races

Brown Wave: A Record Number of South Asian Americans Register Historic Wins in State Senate and Assembly Races

  • An unprecedented number of candidates contested in this year’s midterms, gaining national recognition for many firsts.

An unprecedented number of Indian American and South Asian American candidates contested in this year’s election. Several seasoned lawmakers and first-timers registered historic wins. In Maryland, Aruna Miller was elected as the first woman of color and the first-ever South Asian or AAPI woman to serve as lieutenant governor in the United States. In Michigan, Shri Thanedar won his U.S. Congress race in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, making him the fifth member of the ‘Samosa Caucus’ that includes Reps. Pramila Jayapl of Washington, Ami Bera and Ro Khanna of California, and Raja Krishnamoothrthi of Illinois 

The State Senate and House races were historic as well with several firsts. In California, Jasmeet Kaur Bains became the first South Asian American woman to be elected to the State Assembly. Iowa saw Dr. Megan Srinivas winning the election in House District 30, becoming the youngest woman of color ever elected to the Iowa legislature. Two young Indian Americans — Nabeela Syed and Kevin Olickal — became the first South Asian Americans in the Illinois State Legislature. In the New York State Assembly elections, Nepali American climate organizer Sarahana Shrestha won from District 103. In Georgia, two Bangladeshi Americans — Nabilah Islam and incumbent Sheikh Rahman — won their seats in the Georgia State Senate from District 7 and District 5 respectively. For the House race, Pakistani American government affairs advisor and political strategist Farooq Mughal fought a tough race with Republican Sandra Donatucci to emerge victorious in District 105.

Democrat Priya Sundareshan’s race is too early to call. Top photo, Dr. Megan Srinivas won election in Iowa House District 30, becoming the youngest woman of color ever elected to the Iowa legislature.

Following is the state-wise list of winners and losers. The data will be updated as and when new information comes along.


In a race that’s still too early to call, Democrat Priya Sundareshan is facing Republican Stan Caine, a retired U.S. Defense Department employee, for a State Senate seat from the 18th District. An environmental law professor at the University of Arizona, Sundareshan is leading with 61 percent of the votes compared to Caine’s 39 percent, according to The New York Times data. reports that Sundareshan is among two Democrats who “hold double-digit leads and a third is running neck-and-neck with a MAGA candidate in a trio of state senate races in the Tucson area.”


Jasmeet Kaur Bains, a family physician from Bakersfield, became the first South Asian American woman to be elected to the State Assembly from Kern County. She won the District 35 seat in a closely contested election with Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez. Although “it was Democrat v Democrat race,” The Bakersfield Californian noted that “the count leaned heavily toward the family care doctor and political newcomer.”

Assemblymember Ash Kalra, representing California’s 25h District, was re-elected to his fourth term. He was first elected in 2016, becoming the first Indian American to serve in the California Legislature in state history. He is the chair of the Committee on Labor and Employment and also serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Judiciary, Transportation, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife committees. 

Sri Lankan American Democrat Fatima Iqbal-Zubair is locked in a race with incumbent Democrat Mike Anthony Gispon in the 65th House District. The New York Times data shows her trailing behind her the incumbent. So far only 44 percent of the votes are counted. The Dubai-born Iqbal-Zubair immigrated with her family to Canada and eventually to the United States to find a safe haven away from the Gulf War. Before running, she taught Chemistry and Environmental Sciences. 


Pakistani American Maryam Khan won her State House seat representing Connecticut’s 5th district. In 2020, Khan, a former school teacher, made history by becoming the first elected Muslim in the House. She won a special election to the 5th House District of Windsor and Hartford “winning nearly 75 percent of the votes,” CT Mirror reported at the time. 

M.D. Rahman of Senate District 4 easily beat out Republican candidate Jacqueline Crespan. Preliminary unofficial results showed Rahman about 6,700 votes ahead of Crespan across the district, which includes parts of Andover, Bolton, Glastonbury and Manchester.

Similarly, State Sen. Saud Anwar retained his 3rd Senate District seat, beating Republican candidate Matt Harper, to represent the towns of East Hartford, East Windsor, a part of Ellington and all of South Windsor. “I am very happy that the 3rd Senate District people have considered me worthy of their support,” Anwar told the Journal Inquirer. “I look forward to serving and continuing the work I’ve been doing.”

In the state’s Treasurer race, Republican Harry Arora, a state Representative, lost a tough fight against Erick Russell, who became the first Black LGBTQ person elected to a statewide office. Currently, a state representative from Connecticut’s 151st District, Arora is the ranking member of the Labor Committee. 


Indian American attorney Rishi Bagga lost his bid to the Florida House of Representatives from House District 35 in a closely contested race with incumbent Rep. Fred Hawkins. “Hawkins led in both Orange and Osceola County, with 32,818 votes to Bagga’s 26,393,” reported, citing unofficial final results. “Hawkins took 55 percent of the vote to Bagga’s 45 percent, despite Bagga holding a lead in early and mail-in votes,” the report added.


Two Bangladeshi Americans — Nabilah Islam and incumbent Sheikh Rahman— won their seats in Georgia state Senate from District 7 and District 5 respectively. 

Islam, who has been called the Atlanta area’s equivalent to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), is a lifelong fighter, organizer, and community advocate dedicated to advancing Democratic causes and values. She is currently a member of the Gwinnett Outreach Advisory Board. In that position, she has worked to provide assistance and support for AAPI small business owners in Gwinnett following the targeted Asian spa shootings, according to her website.

The Bangladesh-born Rahman has been a member of the Georgia State Senate, representing District 5 since 2019. His career experience includes working as a corporate executive with Pizza Hut. He served as a member of the NAACP, the National Action Network, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the national advisor of the Alliance for South Asian American Labor. 

In the race for the state House, Pakistani American government affairs advisor and political strategist Farooq Mughal fought a tough race with Republican Sandra Donatucci to emerge victorious in District 105. Mughal grew up in Gwinnett County to immigrant parents who moved to the United States from Pakistan, arriving in Lawrenceville, Georgia in 1995, according to his website. In 2008, he founded his governmental affairs firm, MS Global Partners – Government and Business Advisors which provides strategic advice to government entities and minority business owners. 

From House District 9, New Delhi-born entrepreneur Om Duggal lost his maiden run to Republican Matt Reeves by a close margin. Duggal moved to the U.S. with his wife, three children, and aging parents. His professional career in the US started with AIG and ING insurance companies. In 2001 he started his own hospitality and property development organization, and then developed and opened his first and second hotels. 


Two young Indian Americans — Nabeela Syed and Kevin Olickal — became the first South Asian Americans in the Illinois State Legislature. Nabeela Syed, 23, flipped a Republican-held suburban district by defeating Rep. Chris Bos in the 51st House District. She will be the youngest member of the Illinois General Assembly. In the 16th House District, 29-year-old Kevin Olickal, a progressive Democrat easily beat Vince Romano.

Syed currently works for a nonprofit in digital strategy supporting a variety of their civic engagement efforts including voter mobilization, ending sexual assault on college campuses, and promoting gender equity, according to her website. Most recently, she served as the Campaign Manager for current Township High School District 211 School Board Member Tim Mc Gowan.

Born and raised in Skokie to Malayali parents who immigrated to America in the late 1980s, Olickal is currently working part-time towards his Juris Doctorate at Loyola University Chicago School of Law School. Most recently he worked as a Cook County Recovery Specialist at The National Partnership for New Americans providing COVID-19 relief to small businesses and nonprofits. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology at The Ohio State University, he then returned to Illinois, “committing his career to public service to advance and protect the progressive values that allowed his family to succeed in this country,” his website says. 


Dr. Megan Srinivas has won the election for Iowa House District 30, becoming the youngest woman of color ever elected to the Iowa legislature. She is the second Asian American woman to serve in the Iowa House after Swati DandekarThe infectious disease physician defeated Jerry Cheevers. According to Census Reporter, the district is overwhelmingly White (87 percent) with Asians and Blacks at 4 percent each, and Hispanics at three percent. The seat is among a handful of deep blue Des Moines-area legislative districts that Democrats have held for years.

In a tight race for House District 43, Republican state Rep. Eddie Andrews “fended off his Democratic challenger, Suresh Reddy, the Des Moines Register reported. Andrews got 51% of the votes and Reddy, a City Council Member in Johnston, got 49%, according to unofficial results.


Kumar Barve, the first Indian American to be elected to a state legislature in the United States, has retained his Maryland House of Delegates seat, representing District 17 in Montgomery County.


Sam Singh won his race from District 28 by defeating Daylen Howard by a close margin. The Indian American has made a career of supporting the mid-Michigan area through his work with philanthropy, public service and nonprofit board service. He and his wife, Kerry Ebersole Singh are Michigan State University Alums that make East Lansing their home along with their son Remy Ebersole Singh. 

Incumbent State Rep. Ranjeev Puri won his re-election to the Michigan House of Representatives to represent District 24. The Indian American first won the election to the state House in 2021, representing District 21. The son of immigrants and a proud product of the ‘American Dream’, “Puri is a strong advocate for inclusion, equity and equality across all walks of life,” according to his website. “He brings to Lansing a unique breadth of experiences and diverse perspective he vows to use in fighting for a better Michigan that works for everyone.” 

In the Oakland County Commissioner race from the 14th District, Democrat Ajay Raman, a physician, business owner, and Oakland County resident, defeated Robert Smiley, a Wixom city councilman. Raman polled 52.17percent of the votes cast, to 47.74 percent for Smiley. Last year, Raman lost his maiden run as mayor of Novi, Michigan, to incumbent candidate Bob Gatt. He and his wife moved to Novi a decade ago as they were drawn to the city’s “cultural diversity, community programs, and abundant green spaces,” he says on his website. The couple raises their two kids in Novi, where Raman owns a medical practice. He previously completed the Novi Ambassador Academy, which gives community members direct exposure to the inner workings of our various city departments and also continues to advocate for residents as a long-time board member of a 266-unit homeowners association. 

However, incumbent state Rep. Padma Kuppa lost her bid for a seat in the State Senate from the 9th District to Republican former Rep. Michael Webber. Kuppa served two terms as a State Representative for Michigan’s 41st House District. In a statement posted on social media, she thanked voters, volunteers and supporters for a well-fought campaign. “I will continue to work to better the world, because this is who I am,” she wrote. 

It was tough luck for Aisha Farooqi who lost her bid to the Michigan House of Representatives from District 57. She was endorsed by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who described her as “a trailblazer,” who is “standing up for freedom, an inclusive America, and economic opportunity for all.” A real estate attorney, she served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for the City of Sterling Heights.

New Hampshire

Latha Mangipudi, a longtime member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from Hillsborough 35 won her re-election for a sixth term. “Won my 6th term to represent Nashua Ward 8 in state house with Laura Telerski and Will Darby,” Mangipudi posted on Facebook. First elected to the state House in 2013, Mangipudi has served in various commissions and committees in the state.

However, Neil Misra lost his bid to the New Hampshire House of Representatives to represent Rockingham 25. He was running “to provide a fresh and diverse perspective to a stagnant legislature that has traditionally been dominated by the same voices for years,” said a tweet by Run for Something, which helps recruit and support young people running for office.

New York

In New York, incumbent State Sen. Jeremy Cooney declared victory in seeking his second term. He faced a challenge from former Gates Police Chief Jim VanBrederode. Speaking to Cooney said it was “a tough evening, waiting and waiting.” He said his team “wanted to make sure we had integrity in our system.” Technical difficulties at the Monroe County Board of Elections delayed results, the news portal reported. “We didn’t want to get out ahead of every counting error, or anything like that. We wanted to make sure everyone’s voice was heard and that the votes were counted properly.”

Cooney was adopted from an orphanage in Kolkata and raised by a single mother in the City of Rochester. He made history in 2020 as the first Asian American elected to state office from upstate New York, and the first state senator in decades to graduate from Rochester City School District (RCSD). 

On Long Island, where a GOP sweep surprised many in the blue state, incumbent State Sen. Kevin Thomas was one of the few Democrats who survived. He beat perennial Republican candidate James Coll by 59 percent to 40 percent. 

Thomas was elected in 2018 to represent the 6th District in Nassau County, becoming the first Indian American in New York history to serve in the state Senate. He currently serves as chairman of the Consumer Protection Committee and sits on the Banks, Finance, Health, Internet & Technology, Judiciary, and Local Government Committees.

In the state Assembly elections, Nepali American climate organizer Sarahana Shrestha won a seat from District 103 by securing 58.70 percent of the total votes to defeat Republican Patrick Sheehan, a candidate fielded by the Republican Party. In a statement sent to the Daily Freeman, Shrestha said that “she appreciated voters taking a chance on hope and possibility” She said she won “despite the constant misrepresentation of this vision by the opposition, and the disfiguring of it into fear and hatred.”

Successful in their re-election bids were incumbents Jenifer Rajkumar of District 38, and Zohran Mamdani. Both ran unopposed. 

See Also

In 2021, Rajkumar made history as the first South Asian-American woman ever to be elected to a state office in New York. She represents Queens neighborhoods of Glendale, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, and Woodhaven. 

The Uganda-born Mamdani, who represents sections of Astoria and Long Island City, is a housing counselor. He was first elected to the State Assembly in 2021, after defeating incumbent Democrat Aravella Simotas in the 2020 primary.

Unsuccessful in their bids were Democrat Sanjeev Kumar Jindal from District 19, as well as Republican candidates Aamir Sultan from District 10 and Vibhuti Jha from the 16th District. Jha, a strategic adviser at the Seattle-based Human Potential Project, a management consulting company, challenged incumbent Gina Sillitti, who was one of few Democrats in Nassau County, Long Island to declare a win. Recently, Jha apologized for his racial rhetoric after receiving flak for his anti-Muslim and anti-Sikh tweets.

North Carolina

Longtime State Sen. Jay Chaudhuri comfortably won his re-election from District 15. He defeated Republican Emanuela Prister by a large margin (67 percent to 29 percent). First appointed to fill a vacancy in April 2016 caused by the resignation of Josh Stein, Chaudhuri was later elected and re-elected, becoming North Carolina’s first Indian American state legislator.

He will be joined by another Indian American — Mujtaba Mohammed — also an incumbent, who got re-elected to a second term. The public interest attorney was born in Toledo, Ohio, and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina Charlotte and his J.D. from the North Carolina Central University School of Law.


Democrat Dr. Anita Somani, an OB-GYN from Columbus, beat Republican Omar Tarazi, an attorney and Hilliard City Council vice president, in the race for Ohio’s 11th House District. A 1988 graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, she has served as a delegate and alternate delegate to the Ohio State Medical Association.


Tarik Khan, a Pakistani American nurse, easily defeated his Republican challenger to claim a seat in the Pennsylvania state House to represent the 194th District. Dr. Arvind Venkat, an Indian American physician, won his House seat from the newly drawn 30th District.

The son of a Pakistani father and a Catholic mother, Khan was born and raised in Philadelphia. His father came to Philadelphia from Pakistan “to go to college and build a better life,” his website says. His mother was raised in North West Philly by a single mother, became a nurse and was the first in her family to go to college,” according to the website.

An emergency physician with Allegheny Health Network, Venkat immigrated with his family to the U.S. as a child. He says on his website that his parents’ “ethic of hard work and commitment to service” inspired him to become a physician. A Detroit native, he graduated from Harvard and Yale University School of Medicine. He has lived in the town of McCandless for the last 15 years, with his wife and three children.

Meanwhile, Anna Thomas lost her bid for a House seat from District 137. The young Indian American was locked in a tight race with longtime Republican state Rep. Joe Emrick. 


Incumbent Republican Sabi Kumar, a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, won his re-election bid to represent District 66. Popularly known as “Doc,” the Indian American surgeon, inventor, entrepreneur and writer was first elected to the state House in 2014. He is currently the Chairman of the House Insurance Committee. He has represented the 66th district since 2015.


Texas voters elected their first Muslim American representatives to the state legislature. Dr. Suleman Lalani, a Pakistani American physician in the Greater Houston area was elected to the Texas House from District 76, and Salman Bhojani, also a Pakistani American was chosen from District 92.

Lalani came to the U.S. in the 1990s to begin his career as a doctor. According to his website, he chose this country for its advanced medicine and quality of healthcare. He has been in private practice in the Greater Houston area for the last two decades and in Sugar Land for 17 years. 

Bhojani, an entrepreneur and attorney, was elected to Euless City Council in 2018, and served as Mayor Pro Tem in 2020. Born in Pakistan to a large family, he lived in Canada for a time before settling in the Lone Star State. He started out supporting his family by working at gas stations for minimum wage.

On the Republican side, Sohrab Gilani lost his election to the Texas House of Representatives to represent District 27.


State Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale retained her seat in the Chittenden Southeast District. She is among three incumbent Democratic senators won their won re-election to the three-member district, the VT Digger reported. The daughter of an Indian immigrant father from Punjab and a Jewish American mother, Ram Hinsdale, became the first woman of color elected to the Vermont Senate in 2020. 


Incumbent state Senator Manka Dhingra won re-election to the Washington State Senate for the third consecutive time. Her first victory came five years ago when she easily won a special election to serve the remaining term of Republican Senator Andy Hill. “That victory flipped the Senate to Democratic control, and putting an end to five years of endless special sessions and gridlock,” as reported by The Cascadia Advocate. One of two Deputy Majority Leaders in the Senate, Dhingra chairs the body’s Law & Justice Committee “and has worked tirelessly to strengthen public safety and advance police reform in Washington State,” according to her website.

In the state House race, incumbent Vandana Slatter, who represents the 48th District (Position 1) sailed through the general election as she ran unopposed. A former Bellevue City Council member, community leader, and public school parent, she has worked for more than 20 years at leading biotechnology companies, according to her website. She is a licensed pharmacist in the State of Washington.

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