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Consequential Lieutenant: Aruna Miller Sworn-in a Maryland’s First Asian and First Indian American Lt. Governor

Consequential Lieutenant: Aruna Miller Sworn-in a Maryland’s First Asian and First Indian American Lt. Governor

  • The 58-year-old and her boss Wes Moore made history in November, making it the first time that both the top two positions in the state are ever held by racial minorities.

Aruna Miller (née Katragadda), Maryland’s first woman of color and first Indian American Lieutenant Governor, was sworn in today at the State House in Annapolis. It was a historic day, as she joined Wes Moore, the state’s first Black governor, a celebrity author, Army veteran, and former nonprofit executive. This is the first time both the top two positions in a state are ever held by racial minorities.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day in the capital, where hundreds gathered to partake in the historical moment. Miller, 58, was joined at the inauguration by her husband Dave and her three daughters. 

She began her speech by giving a shout out to her three adult daughters. “Mommy loves you,” she told them and said she was “so proud of the strong, smart and beautiful souls” they have become. “I am humbled to join you on this journey to serve the state we love and the people we love and the place we call home,” she told Moore. 

She spoke of her initial experiences in school adjusting to the new environment after moving to the U.S. when she was 7 years old. She learned English while in the public school system, graduated high school, and attended college at what is now called Missouri University of Science and Technology. She spoke about how she spent most of her life “trying to fit into a space that didn’t have her in mind — as an immigrant growing up in a new country; as a female engineer in a male-dominated field; as an Indian American legislator in a legislature that looked nothing like me.” She said it took her a long time to realize that it was never about “needing to fit into a space created by others, it was always about having the courage to be my authentic self in every space.”

In a profile on both Miller and her boss before the Jan. 18 swearing-in, The Washington Post noted that “Moore, who is a political newcomer,” has promised that Miller will be “the most consequential lieutenant governor” in the country. He has often described her as “a seasoned legislator whom he sees as his partner in working to close Maryland’s wealth gap,” The Post said. “He has joked that when he asked her to be his running mate, he had no apprehension, much like on his wedding day.”

Under the state constitution, Miller, as the lieutenant governor, “has no expressly defined duties other than assuming the role of governor if Moore is incapacitated,” The Post said, adding that “her role is otherwise delegated by Moore, according to the constitution.”

Miller told The Post that her portfolio will include “a broad focus on equity and specifically will include transportation, mental health and STEM education, areas for which she will draw from personal and professional experience.”

The newly elected lieutenant governor began her career as a civil engineer in Maryland and worked for Montgomery County for over 25 years. In 2010, she was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates where she represents the 15th District and serves on the Appropriations Committee. Miller, who became a U.S. citizen in 2000, spent four years on the House Ways and Means Committee and four years on the Appropriations Committee, working on issues like paid family leave, transportation policy, domestic violence, and STEM education, among many others. 

In 2017, she launched a bid for the 6th Congressional District to replace Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), but she lost to multimillionaire businessman David Trone in the Democratic primary, finishing second. Expectedly, there was an outpouring of pride and support on social media for Miller. 

However, members of the Indian American Muslim Council protested at the inauguration, decrying her alleged ties to Hindutva. They demanded that she apologize for her ties to Hindutva and donate the Hindutva money received during the campaign to charities.

A story published in The Intercept in October 2022 alleged that Miller and Moore held a fundraiser with Trump supporters and people linked to the Hindutva movement. “The high-dollar fundraiser at the home of Jasdip ‘Jesse’ Singh, the founder of Sikhs for Trump, and was co-hosted by one-time Trump adviser Sajid Tarar, who founded Muslims for Trump, the report said, adding that both Singh and Tarar have strong connections to Maryland’s outgoing Republican governor, serving on his commission for South Asian issues.

(Top photo, Gov. Wes Moore and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller with their spouses Dawn Moore and David Miller at the inauguration on Jan. 18)

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