- If elected, they would be the first sisters to serve in Congress at the same time from different states.
The Jayapals are vying to be the first sisters to serve in Congress at the same time from different states. Susheela Jayapal, the sister of Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), announced her run for Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District. She stepped down as Multnomah County Commissioner, a post she held since 2019, to enter the race after longtime Congressman Earl Blumenauer announced his retirement.
Axios notes that the 61-year-old Indian American Democrat “will likely be a formidable contender in what could become a crowded race to replace Blumenauer in the state’s third district.” It covers much of progressive Portland and Multnomah County and went for President Biden in 2020 by more than 50 percentage points.
Announcing her candidacy on Nov. 1, Jayapal said it is “more important than ever that we have an unwavering progressive voice in Congress. She cited community health and safety, abortion rights, climate change, and “standing up to election deniers” as her signature issues.
She told Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) that she “truly” believes this is a pivotal time for the district, for the state, for the country in so many different ways.” She continued: “We came through the pandemic, and where we have landed is in a place where there is more divisiveness than before. At the same time, we’ve got these challenges here locally where we need federal action and federal help.”
One of the first persons to endorse Susheela Jayapal was her sister, The Washington Post reported, adding that “their relationship was not noted.” On X, she cheered her sister. “My incredible sister Susheela just launched her campaign for Congress!,” Rep. Jayapal wrote.
In addition to her sister’s backing, she rolled out endorsements from a state senator, two state representatives, and dozens of local politicians and community leaders.
Jayapal was elected to represent District 2 on the county board in 2019, making her the first Indian American to win an elected county office in Oregon. She won a reelection campaign last year. Before joining the board, she worked as a corporate lawyer, most recently working as the general counsel for Adidas America.
As a commissioner, she has “pushed for immigration refugee services, racial justice programs, homelessness prevention policies and eviction defense support,” OPB said. In the past year, she’s focused on updating the county’s contracting practices with nonprofits to ensure that staff are fairly compensated. Most recently, she has called on the city of Portland to ban the use of leaded diesel at the city-run Portland International Raceway.
Jayapal told OPB that “she’s especially proud of her work at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when she pushed the state to provide equitable access to testing and vaccines in Multnomah County.” Another of her top accomplishments she said was “finalizing a contract with an online database company that helps property owners list vacant apartments, making them easier for homeless service providers to find.”
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), were the first sisters to serve in Congress simultaneously.