Nearly two weeks after the general elections, Democratic Congressman Ami Bera was declared winner in the Congressional election in California’s 7th district. The Indian American physician won his third term to represent a Sacramento-area district that national Republican leaders had targeted. The district has a nearly identical number of registered Republicans and Democrats.
Bera faced a tough challenge from Republican Scott Jones, the Sacramento County sheriff who raised his profile by criticizing President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. Bera and Jones emerged from Election Night Nov. 8, with the congressman leading by less than a percentage point in the CD 7 race. Jones attended “freshman orientation” in Congress last week, anticipating a possible victory in the hard-fought race.
The Associated Press declared victory for Bera, a Democrat on November 18th, when his lead over his Republican challenger, Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones, widened by more than two percentage points. As of November 18, Bera had amassed 129, 064 votes – 51.2 percent – to Jones’ 123, 056 votes – 48.8 percent.
The incumbent was a top target for Republicans after his father pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to his son’s campaigns. In early October, Bera trailed Jones, Sacramento County sheriff, by 5 points in a National Republican Congressional Committee poll. Yet, the incumbent’s favorables, a key indicator of how people might vote, remained high. And Jones brought his own issues to the race, with him facing allegations of unwanted sexual advances.
The election had attracted national attention as Ami Bera’s father, 84-year-old Babulal Bera, was sentenced to begin a 10-month prison term for using straw donors to fund his son’s 2010 and 2012 bids for a seat in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Ami Bera, who was the lone Indian American serving in the House of Representatives, defeating Republican Scott Jones in his re-election bid from the state of California, he will be joined by three other Indian Americans in the US Congress. Californians elected Kamala Harris as the state’s first new U.S. Senator in 24 years, she also became the first Indian American ever elected to the Senate with her victory.
Fremont attorney Ro Khanna, in his second battle with incumbent Mike Honda and in his third attempt at a congressional seat, has emerged victorious against the eight-term congressman. Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi won the Illinois 8th Congressional District race against Republican Peter DiCianni. Krishnamoorthi and DiCianni were both trying to win the seat vacated by Tammy Duckworth, who won Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat. Pramila Jayapal defeated Brady Walkinshaw Tuesday in Washington’s 7th Congressional District.
“It’s been my honor to serve this community first as a doctor and for these past four years as a member of Congress,” said Bera, in a press statement announcing his win.
“I’m incredibly thankful for the hundreds of volunteers who knocked doors and made phone calls during this campaign because they believe in standing up for women’s access to health care, protecting Medicare and Social Security, and ensuring all of our Veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned. After months of a divisive national election, our job now is to bring our country back together,” said the congressman.
Bera is one of the few Democratic doctors in the 114th Congress. That distinction, along with a public commitment to bipartisan collaboration, has guided the start of his legislative career.
In 1999, he signed on as the chief medical officer for Sacramento County, and five years later he became an administrator and professor at the medical school for the University of California, Davis. As Bera tells it, a lack of progress on some of the more daunting policy questions facing the nation spurred him to become a candidate in 2010. He lost to Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, but won the rematch two years later.
Bera is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a more business-friendly part of his party’s caucus. But he has also tried to build a political identity around No Labels, a bipartisan group that aims to improve how Congress functions. He voted against all the partisan fiscal 2014 budgets that came to the House floor, and he has supported a handful of Republican bills designed to ease federal regulation.
In the 115th Congress, Bera will be joined by four incoming Indian-American members — fellow Californians Sen.-elect Kamala Harris and Rep.-elect Ro Khanna, Rep.-elect Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Rep.-elect Pramila Jayapal of Washington.