- In the only upset, favored Republican Hima Kolanagireddy lost a closely fought race with Taiwanese American Whitney Williams in Michigan’s 6th Congressional district.
Indian American candidates have done phenomenally well in the Aug. 2 primaries in Michigan, Ohio, Washington and Arizona. In Michigan, incumbent state Rep. Padma Kuppa, who is running for the state Senate from the 9th District, has moved ahead to the Nov. 8 elections, along and incumbent state Sen. Ranjeev Puri. New contenders Sam Singh and Aisha Farooqi have won their Democratic primaries for state Senate and state House, respectively.
Meanwhile, Michigan State Rep. Shri Thanedar has won the Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat from the state’s 13th Congressional District. Additionally, Ajay V. Raman, a Democrat, has won the nomination for Michigan’s Oakland County Commissioner from the 14th district.
However, Republican Hima Kolanagireddy lost a close race with Taiwanese American Whitney Williams in Michigan’s 6th Congressional district. With 95 percent of the precincts reported, The New York Times data revealed that Kolanagireddy received 26,370 or 46.3 percent of the votes, compared to Whitney’s 30,560 or 53.7 percent.
In neighboring Ohio, Dr. Anita Somani, an obstetrician-gynecologist for OhioHealth, secured the Democratic nomination for the state’s 11th House District. She ran uncontested in the Aug. 2 primary.
On the west coast, in Washington, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), one of the House’s leading progressives, sailed through the primary, leading the four-way race with 91,963 or 83.88 percent of the votes. In the state legislative elections, Sen. Manka Dhingra and state Rep. Vandana Slatter advanced to the general elections. Both ran unopposed.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Priya Sundareshan is leading the race for the state Senate from the 18th district. According to The New York Times data, she has 53 percent of the votes compared to her opponent Abraham Morgan’s 47 percent. The race hasn’t been called yet.
In Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, Thanedar was leading with 28 percent of the votes when the Associated Press called the race around 11:00 a.m. on July 3. Thanedar, an Indian immigrant “and the only non-Black candidate on the ballot, committed over $5 million of his wealth to his campaign, as reported by The Detroit Press.
“This race was not about me,” he said in a statement sent to The Detroit Press. “Michigan’s 13th Congressional district is one of the poorest in the country, and I will fight for economic and racial justice in Congress.”
The 13th district covers most of Detroit, Hamtramck, the Grosse Pointes and Downriver communities. The seat is open because Democratic U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, the state’s sole African American in Congress, is retiring at the end of her term. “The Democratic stronghold in the 13th is viewed as the best opportunity to elect another Black representative,” The Detroit Press has noted. “The winner of Tuesday’s primary effectively wins the seat since the Republican challenger rarely has a chance in Detroit and surrounding suburbs,” the report added.
The Indian American ran for governor in 2018, won his seat in the statehouse last year and has passed 18 bills, including one to bring $94 million to Detroit Public Schools, according to a press release issued by him earlier this year. He also introduced a bill to help fund environmental monitoring, which Gov. Whitmer signed into law.
Michigan State Senate
Kuppa, a two-term state House representative for Michigan’s 41st House District, ran unopposed for the Aug. 2 Democratic primary. District 9 includes Rochester, Rochester Hills, Troy, Utica, parts of Shelby and Oakland Townships, and western Sterling Heights. On Nov. 8, she will face Republican Michael Webber, who also ran unopposed.
Kuppa took to her Facebook page to thank those who voted for her. “Yesterday was Primary Day in Michigan and I voted,” she wrote on July 3. “While I was unopposed, all of us win when people come out to vote and select the candidates that best reflect their values. Thank you to all who voted for me in SD 9. Democracy wins when people vote; let’s win even bigger in November.”
In the 57th District, Farooqi won the Democratic nomination for state House by defeating Marcia Squier with 55 percent of the votes. She will now face Republican Thomas Kuhn who ran unopposed in the primary. Farooqi, an attorney, says on her website that she wants to create “a Michigan that is inclusive, fair and forward thinking. A place which future generations will be proud to call home.”
Puri, who represents the state’s 21st District in the state Senate, also ran unopposed. He is serving his first term representing the cities of Canton, Belleville, and Van Buren Township. 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.”
Last month, the freshman lawmaker went on paternity leave from the Michigan House because his third son was born on July 1. He stepped aside for an undisclosed time even though “there is no actual parental leave policy for state legislators,” Deadline Detroit reported at the time.
Another Indian American winner for a Michigan Senate seat from the newly-drawn 28th District is a former member of the Michigan Legislature and former East Lansing mayor Sam Singh. He easily defeated physician Muhammad Salman Rais by over 75 percent of the votes. He will now take on Republican Madhu Anderson who defeated Daylen W. Howard to earn her party’s nomination.
Singh was elected to the East Lansing City Council at the age of 24 and was elected as mayor in 2005. He also served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2013-18. Over the past 25 years, Singh has made a career of supporting the mid-Michigan area through his work with philanthropy, public service and nonprofit board service, according to his website.
Oakland County Commissioner
Raman, a physician, business owner, and Oakland County resident, has won the Democratic nomination for Oakland County Commissioner from the 14th District. Last year, Raman lost his maiden run as mayor of Novi, Michigan, to incumbent candidate Bob Gatt.
Raman 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.
In Ohio, Dr. Anita Somani, an obstetrician-gynecologist for OhioHealth, secured the Democratic nomination for Ohio’s 11th House District. She ran uncontested in the Aug. 2 primary.
A 1988 graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, she completed her OB/GYN Residency at Mt. Carmel Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. She is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Miami University. She is an American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fellow, a Past President of the Columbus OB/GYN Society, a member of the Academy of Medicine and the Ohio State Medical Association, a board member of the St. Ann’s Perinatal Peer Review and past board member of the Knightsbridge Surgery Center. She has served as a delegate and alternate delegate to the Ohio State Medical Association.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), one of the House’s leading progressives, sailed through the primary, leading the four-way race with 91,963 or 83.88 percent of the votes. She is the first and only Indian American in the U.S. House of Representatives serving from Washington’s 7th congressional district since 2017.
She represented the 37th legislative district in the Washington State Senate from 2015 to 2017. Before entering electoral politics, Jayapal was a Seattle-based civil rights activist, serving until 2012 as the executive director of OneAmerica, a pro-immigrant advocacy group. She founded the organization, originally called Hate Free Zone, after the September 11 attacks. She also co-chaired the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Currently, she serves on both the Judiciary Committee and Budget Committee.
In the state legislative races, two Indian American women, Sen. Manka Dhingra and state Rep. Vandana Slatter, both incumbents, advanced to the general elections. Both ran unopposed.
Dhingra, Deputy Majority Leader of the Washington State Senate, represents the 45th district. She brings two decades of experience as a prosecutor and behavioral health expert to her role as chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee. She also serves on the Behavioral Health Subcommittee and the Ways & Means Committee.
She was first elected to the Senate in November 2017, the first Sikh state legislator elected in the nation. Since then, she has sponsored and passed legislation addressing a wide range of issue areas, including curbing domestic violence and sexual assault, preventing firearm violence, providing property tax relief for seniors and people with disabilities, prosecuting financial fraud, and reforming the criminal justice system with an evidence-based approach.
Vandana Slatter, who represents the 48th District (Position 1) at the Washington state House is a former Bellevue City Council member, community leader, public school parent, and biotech and healthcare professional. A Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Washington, 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.
Priya Sundareshan is leading the race for the state Senate in the 18th district. According to The New York Times data, she has 53 percent of the votes compared to her opponent Abraham Morgan’s 47 percent. The race hasn’t been called yet. Born and raised in the 18 district, she teaches natural resources law at the University of Arizona, and previously advocated for sustainable fisheries with the Environmental Defense Fund.
A voting rights advocate, she has been leading voter protection efforts and engagement on redistricting within the Arizona Democratic Party, her website says. She studied engineering at MIT and law and natural resource economics at the University of Arizona, “so she knows we need more science-based decision-making in politics,” the website adds. “She has a growing family and wants her children and all children to inherit a sustainable world.” Sundereshan is running for State Senate in the new LD18 “to make Arizona a leader in renewable energy, restore balance to our water supply through conservation and efficiency, and improve our democracy by making voting easy and accessible to all.”