Social Justice Lawyer Janani Ramachandran Trails Opponent in Runoff Election in California’s Assembly District 18

  • While the Indian American candidate has not conceded, local news reports speculate that Mia Bonta could be on her way to victory to replace the seat vacated by her husband, California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Social justice lawyer Janani Ramachandran is currently trailing her opponent Mia Bonta in the Aug. 31 runoff election for Assembly District 18 in California. As of Sept. 1 morning, Bonta had 25,712 or 54.92 percent of the votes, while Ramchandran had 21,203 or 45.08 percent, with hundred percent of the precincts being reported. Only mail-in ballots are to be counted, and an update from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters is expected on Sept. 2.

Local news reports speculate that the former could be on her way to victory to replace the seat vacated by her husband, California Attorney General Rob Bonta. The 18th Assembly seat covers parts of Alameda, Oakland and San Leandro. Ramchandran, however, has not conceded the election, possibly keeping her fingers crossed while awaiting the mail-in returns.

If elected, Ramachandran, a Democrat, would be the first Indian American LGBTQ woman to serve in the California State Assembly. Currently, Assemblymember Ash Kalra is the lone Indian American in the state Legislature. The 29-year-old currently serves on the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs and stepped down from the Oakland Public Ethics Commission to run for office. Bonta is president of the Alameda Unified School District board and CEO of Oakland Promise, a multifaceted organization aimed at increasing the number of college graduates from Oakland.

Ramachandran’s social media handles are inundated with posts of support. “At this hour, Jananani Ramchadran trails by only 4 % points,” reads a post shared extensively on Facebook and Twitter. “Pretty damn good for a campaign with no corporate or police funding.” Another Facebook post by Justin Tam reads: “Election for AD18 is far from over, what is unknown is how many ballots are left to be counted. Please do not take your lawn signs yet.”

Ramachandran hasn’t reached out to her supporters on social media yet. On Aug. 31, election day, in a series of tweets, she made the final push to her constituents.

Ramachandran, whose campaign has received more than $460,000 mostly from individuals, has received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont, state Assemblymember Alex Lee, D-San Jose, City of Alameda Democratic Club (CADC), and the Oakland Tenants Union, among others.

Ramachandran, whose campaign has received more than $460,000 mostly from individuals, has received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont, state Assemblymember Alex Lee, D-San Jose, City of Alameda Democratic Club (CADC), and the Oakland Tenants Union, among others.

As per her website, Ramachandran’s grandparents immigrated to California in 1970. She moved to India as a teenager, and at age 16, she founded a nonprofit that built libraries in under-resourced schools in her local community.

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At 16, while relocating to India for a few years, she founded a nonprofit that built libraries in under-resourced schools in her local community. After graduating from Stanford University, Janani worked as a home-visiting case manager at a community health clinic, serving immigrant mothers experiencing domestic violence and homelessness.

An East Bay native, Ramachandran, studied international relations at Stanford University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. After graduating from Stanford, the East Bay native worked as a case manager for low-income immigrant mothers and founded a domestic violence advocacy program across five community health clinics. It was that work that led her to Berkeley Law School.

She served as a tenant’s rights advocate while in law school, representing tenants who faced eviction in Oakland. She represented a large number of women with children who were being forced out of their homes due to domestic violence situations.

Similarly, she helped several small businesses attempting to get loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The first round of funding in April 2020 was quickly gobbled up by larger entities, many of them backed by venture capital. Subsequent rounds of funding attempted to address the imbalance, prioritizing micro-businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

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