As the nation is heading towards the next round of general elections in November this year, four states, Ohio, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana kicked off with the primaries on May 8 primaries in four states electing Indian-Americans, with a potential increase in the number of Indian-American lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and several state capitals, in the November election. In these states, several Indian American and South Asian American candidates marched to the generation election, winning in the primaries at the state level emerging victorious.
At least 2 Indian-American candidates won their primaries in competitive races, one in North Carolina running for State Senate against a three-term incumbent, and the other for the Ohio State House. A South Asian (Pakistani-American) candidate in North Carolina made a great showing despite losing the primary; and the fact that several Indian-Americans had no opponents within their parties, two in Congressional races in Ohio, one in a State level race in North Carolina, and another in Indiana, means a potential for come November.
In Ohio, incumbent State Rep. Niraj Antani won the primary by a two third number of votes cast to the Ohio State House District 42 Republican primary. Leading by a wide margin of 63 percent of the vote, Antani handily defeated his closest opponent, Miamisburg Vice Mayor Sarah M. Clark (28 percent), and a 3rd Republican contender, Marcus Rech of Miamisburg (9 percent)
The youngest lawmaker since his first win 3 years ago, Antani, 26, faces off on Nov. 6, against Zach Dickerson, also a youthful Democrat who defeated his opponent with 56 percent of the vote in the primary. “My opponents worked very hard and tried to make it a competitive race,” Antani told News India Times. “The results show I have a strong base in my district and have worked very hard and delivered results,” he added. His selling point, he said, was “the cumulative total of delivering results and solving problems,” adding that his focus has been job creation, workforce development and affordable higher education, as well as building a strong business climate. All these are “important issues for Indian-Americans,” he noted, emphasizing that he “had a strong base in the Indian-American community” and would continue to represent it.
In Ohio, another Indian-American with a fair chance at the U.S. Congress, Aftab Pureval, was unopposed in the Democratic primary from District 1. He will be facing off against incumbent Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who defeated his opponent Samuel Ronan by a vast margin (83.2 percent to 16.8 percent). The Democratic Party is banking on Pureval to turn a Red seat to Blue come Nov. 6, because it feels the mood has changed nationally and locally to favor Democrats, in an environment where President Trump’s popularity ratings are down.
In North Carolina, while no South Asian American ran for federal office, multiple candidates were seeking spots in the general election for state level offices. Jay Chaudhuri, a state Senate candidate and Democratic incumbent in the 15th Legislative District, won his primary, running unopposed. Chaudhuri will be challenged by Republican Alan Mitchell and Libertarian Brian Lewis, both winning in unopposed elections, in the general.
In North Carolina Democrat Mujtaba Mohammed, an Indian-American public interest lawyer in North Carolina, won a competitive primary May 8, when he defeated a three-term incumbent from his own party. Born in the U.S. to Indian parents, he jumped into a State Senate primary from District 38 in North Carolina, his first foray into electoral politics, to soundly defeat three-term incumbent Joel Ford, winning 51.9 percent of the vote to Ford’s 40.71 percent.
“I appreciate Joel Ford’s service. I felt it was incumbent upon me to run having served the underprivileged all my life, having been in the trenches from where we see the failures of government, a lot of people felt he was out of step with our true democratic values,” the public interest lawyer said. District 38 is Democrat-leaning and Mohammed will probably win the seat to the State Senate Nov. 6, against Republican Richard Rivette, who ran unopposed in his party primary.
Mohammed would then become the 2nd Indian-American in the Upper House, the other being incumbent Democrat Jay Chaudhuri, who was unopposed in his primary from N.C. State Senate District 16. This district is heavily Democratic, so Chaudhuri will be re-elected to office in November, obvious also from his past record.
Dr. Naveed Aziz, a Pakistani-American, made an impressive showing in the May 8 Democratic primary in North Carolina, in her bid for the state senate from District 21 against incumbent and fellow Democrat Ben Clark, making quite a dent with the vote that got behind her. She secured an impressive 44.40 percent of the vote to Clark’s 55.60, indicating her potential to run for future office. Aziz had run for the same seat back in 2016. According to her website Aziz wants to “build the economy of tomorrow” by investing in the people of today, meaningful healthcare, quality public education, and support for women and their families.