Washington, DC: Kumar Barve, the lonest serving Indian American in the state legislature of Maryland, lost his bid for the Democratic Party nomination for his Congressional race from District 8 in the state of Maryland in the April 26 primary election, accruing only two percent of the total votes.
Nine Democratic candidates vied for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District seat, which was left open by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who is running for the U.S. Senate. Maryland state Senator Jamie Raskin won the Democratic primary with 33 percent of the vote, and will face off against Republican attorney Dan Cox in the Nov. 8 general election. “I ran the best race I could run under the circumstances,” Barve was reported to have told the media. He noted that the race was one of the most expensive in the country, with fellow Democrat David Trone – who came in second – pouring more than $12 million of his own money. Raskin raised almost $2 million, while news anchor Kathleen Matthews, who came in third, raised $2.5 million. Barve had raised more than $600,000.
Barve, who had received a significant endorsement from UNITE-HERE, an international labor union representing 275,000 hospitality workers around the country, among many others, shocking defeat in the primaries held in the state.
During his campaign, Barve, 58, who was born in Schenectady, N.Y., and lived for many decades in Maryland, had stressed his Indian heritage and the example set by his grandfather. “The government tried to strip my grandfather of his citizenship because he wasn’t white, but my grandfather stood strong and fought to defend his rights all the way to the Supreme Court,” Barve says on his website. “His story inspired my journey into public life and I follow in his footsteps and stand up for those who need a voice.”
Barve, 58, is the first Indian-American to be elected to a State Assembly in the history of this country back in 1990. He is credited with authoring several key bills that became law in the heavily Democratic state. He has led his Montgomery County delegation. He served as Majority Leader from 2002 to 2015, and is currently chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
Former chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee George Leventhal, indicated that the seasoned Indian-American legislator’s defeat was a gain for the Assembly. “Montgomery County is fortunate to have both Ana Sol Gutierrez and Kumar Barve serving us so well in the Maryland General Assembly. Although both fell short in their congressional campaigns, they will return to Annapolis with their reputations enhanced and their understanding of our constituents’ needs deepened. I have great respect for both of them,” Leventhal posted on his Facebook page after the primary. Another constituent, Alan Banov commented, “Kumar Barve and Ana Sol Gutierrez were much better qualified than the “money” candidates! they had paid their dues and knew how to legislate.”
Barve said, he will support Raskin in the general election, as well as Van Hollen, and the Democratic presidential nominee. Raskin is virtually certain to win, said Barve, noting that two-thirds of voters in the 8th district are registered as Democrats.
Barve said he did the best he could under the circumstances. He lamented that he was able to secure only 2 percent of the votes despite having some 4,000 Indian-Americans in the state. “Only 300 were registered to vote in a Democratic primary,” Kumar said about his Indian-American constituents.
Barve urged Indian Americans to register to vote in the primaries and state their party preference, noting that primary elections largely determine the fall general election. A large number of Indian Americans are registered as independents, which does not allow them to vote in certain states during the primary elections.