Washington, DC: Raja Krishnamoorthi , who won the Democratic Party primary on March 15, 2016 is all set to join the 11th Congress in the Nation’s Capital from the 8th Congressional District in the state of Illinois, that includes the Chicago suburbs of Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Palatine.
Krishnamoorthi won the Democratic primary, defeating his two opponents, Michael Noland and Deborah Bullwinkel. Krishnamoorthi believes he has a very good chance to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, and is now focused on winning the general election in November. “So far, the dynamic has been favorable, but we can’t take anything for granted,” Krishnamoorthi said. “We have to make sure we get our message out.”
Krishnamoorthi is currently president of Sivananthan Labs, where he works on leading research teams developing semiconductor technologies, improved military technologies, solar cells and biosensors to detect weapons of mass destruction. He was formerly the Illinois Deputy Treasurer and served as the policy director for Barack Obama’s successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2004.
Krishnamoorthi noted that he has received endorsements from many politicians, including Democratic Representatives Jared Polis ’96 of Colorado and Derek Kilmer ’96 of Washington, local community leaders and advocacy groups in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Sunil Bhave, a member of the District 59 School Board, explained that Krishnamoorthi is a very genuine person who is able to get along with people who have different opinions, which is a very rare quality that is needed in Congress. “Within a minute of talking to him, you just want to shake his hand and give him a hug,” Bhave said. “He listens to what people have to say.”
Born in New Delhi, India, Krishnamoorthi moved to the United States when he was three-months-old so that his father could complete a graduate degree in industrial engineering. He grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and moved to Peoria, Ill., where his father was a faculty member at Bradley University. There, he graduated from Richwoods High School.
He explained that he decided to apply to the University because of the strong engineering school, which was where he intended to major. He also said that the liberal arts component and the presence of the Wilson School was key, because it would enable him to take humanities and science classes at the same time. “Princeton’s structure accommodated all of those interests at the same time,” he said. “I could not find that anywhere else.”
Krishnamoorthi graduated summa cum laude from the University. Krishnamoorthi received a degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and a certificate from the Wilson School. His independent project dealt with natural gas powered engines and his senior thesis for the Wilson School dealt with foreign directed investment in India, due to his interest in economic development.
He explained that he transferred from Electrical Engineering to Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering because of his interest in the large number of practical applications, such as combustion engines and solar cells. “I was able to take courses where the professors and the teaching assistants were available to mentor and shepherd me through some very difficult coursework,” Krishnamoorthi added. “They allowed me to excel.”
After graduating, Krishnamoorthi spent two years as a strategy consultant and dealt with how a business should grow, whether through increasing revenue or cutting costs. He had always wanted to go to law school because of his interest in government and public policy. “There’s nothing like law school that prepares you for that,” Krishnamoorthi said. “You really learn about the bones of our legal system and the Constitution, and how the federal government operates.”
He then graduated from Harvard Law School in 2000, clerked for Judge Joan Gottschall at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for a year. He assisted Judge Gottschall in deciding cases, and dealt with procedural motions arising in the cases. “It’s a real workout in terms of researching and writing and learning to express yourself persuasively,” he said.
Krishnamoorthi then joined law firm Kirkland and Ellis in Chicago, Ill., as an attorney. He dealt with many different types of law, including contract law, securities law, white-collar criminal prosecutions and bankruptcy litigation. In addition, he did some pro-bono work and was particularly proud of helping a man who had been persecuted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Krishnamoorthi was then appointed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to be the Special Attorney General with the Public Integrity Unit. He took this position after a former colleague at Kirkland and Ellis became the head of the Public Integrity Unit and asked Krishnamoorthi to come and join him.
Krishnamoorthi’s first foray into politics occurred in 1999, when he worked on Barack Obama’s Democratic primary campaign for the 1st Congressional District of Illinois. Obama lost, but asked Krishnamoorthi to become policy director for his Senate campaign in 2004. As a policy director, he educated Obama on various issues and formulated policy that would set him apart from his competitors. He also helped Obama prepare for debates.
In 2007, Krishnamoorthi left Kirkland and Ellis to become the Deputy Treasurer of Illinois. He was appointed by the Treasurer, who was formerly the banker of Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign. Krishnamoorthi focused on writing the policies aimed at promoting economic development, and was impressed by the amount of money managed by the state.
His first foray into elected office came in 2010, when Krishnamoorthi sought the Democratic nomination for Illinois State Comptroller, who maintains the state’s accounts and authorizes checks and payments. He noted that he possessed a unique set of skills that would help him in this position.
“One the one hand, I was an attorney who had investigated ethics abuses,” he said. “On the other hand, I had some financial training as the Deputy Treasurer.” Krishnamoorthi lost to David Miller in the Democratic primary by just over a percentage point. He said that he was able to meet great people during his bid, which encouraged him to try again for elected office. From his first run, he learned that he needed to raise more money to get his message across.
In 2010, Krishnamoorthi joined Sivananthan Laboratories as the president after meeting Dr. Sivalingam Sivananthan, the founder of Sivananthan Labs, when Krishnamoorthi was running for Comptroller.
In 2011, Krishnamoorthi decided to run for the House of Representatives in the 8th District of Illinois. He noted that he jumped into the race because he wanted to defeat then Rep. Joe Walsh, a Tea Party Republican. “He was then the Donald Trump of the U.S. Congress,” Krishnamoorthi said. “He was a horrible guy who played on people’s fears and tried to demagogue on the issues.”
Krishnamoorthi said that his second attempt at elected office was a positive experience because the discussions he had with his opponents were civil and ideas-focused. However, he lost the Democratic nomination to Tammy Duckworth, who went on to become the Representative for the 8th District. Krishnamoorthi then became an advisor to Rep. Duckworth. Last year, Rep. Duckworth announced that she would step down from the House of Representatives to run for the U.S. Senate. Krishnamoorthi subsequently declared his candidacy for the 8th District in 2015, and won the Mar. 15 Democratic primary.
“South Asians turned out in higher numbers than normal this time,” Krishnamoorthi said, hoping that would be the “new normal” in the future. During an event organized by the South Asian community, Raja Krishnamoorthi in his stirring eloquence spelled out his vision –when elected – to usher a new day in the United States Congress with pressing legislative agenda that seeks to strengthen working families, making college affordable, bolstering small businesses, reforming immigration system, improving America’s infrastructure. More importantly Raja Krishnamoorthi assured that he would passionately pursue critical agenda for Americans in bringing about economic equality, protecting Social Security, Medicare and fiercely advocating policies to help working families and raising minimum wage.
Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, Event Convener in his welcome remarks said that we as Indian Americans stand on the precipice of a shining hope and brighter promise with Raja Krishnamoorthi nearing to enter the portals of the U.S. Congress with comprehensive legislative goals. Keerthi Ravoori characterized Raja Krishnamoorthi as a ‘legislative genius’ who would passionately pursue meaningful legislative agenda by hitting the ground running when elected.
Dr. Vijay Prabhakar, Event Co-Chair in his remarks vociferously emphasized that the candidacy of Raja Krishnamoorthi represents a chance of a life time for the current and the future generations. He stridently challenged every Asian American to rise up and stand shoulder to shoulder to help Raja cross the finish line victoriously so that all Americans can see this eminent political personality as a shining inspiration for the entire nation.
His campaign has mainly revolved around keeping people in the middle class and strengthening the middle class and he has advocated for a set of policies to achieve this. Krishnamoorthi wants to raise the minimum wage, pass paid maternity leave, reduce student debt burdens and focus on building a clean-energy economy.
Krishnamoorthi noted that many of his policies have bipartisan support, and he wants to work to find common ground. He explained that there are many Tea Party Congressmen who support expanding solar energy. “Some folks believe that solar energy has become a liberty and independence issue in the Southwest and Florida, because they can cut the cord with their utilities,” he said. “It has the promise of combatting climate change and creating jobs.”
Some other races that would affect Indian-Americans’ political standing nationally and at state levels include California state Attorney General Kamala Harris’ run for the U.S. Senate; incumbent California Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, running for his third term from District 7; Maryland state Assemblyman and former Majority Leader Kumar Barve, the first Indian-American to win a state assembly seat back in 1990, still seeking his party’s nomination in his bid for the U.S. Congress from District 8; civil rights advocate and Washington state Assemblywoman Pramila Jayapal’s run for the Senate from District 7; attorney Neil Makhija, chosen by the Democratic Party to run for the Pennsylvania state House from District 122; and three-term Vermont state Rep. Kesha Ram’s bid for Lt. Governor, among others.