San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris narrowly beat out Steve Cooley, the District Attorney for Los Angeles. The victory makes Harris, whose mother is Indian American and father is Jamaican, the first African American, Indian and woman to hold the office in California.
Harris was once labeled the “female Barack Obama”, and won the race with an uncharacteristically progressive platform. She’s openly opposed to the death penalty; in fact, she refused to pursue capital punishment during her eight year tenure as DA in San Francisco, but has vowed that as Attorney General she’ll do “what’s necessary.” [colorlines]
Harris won her seat by only 71,566 votes, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Harris will be making her “big announcement” today as well as having a victory party here in the Bay area.
As the November 2nd dust settles, there are a couple of other major South Asian American victories also to be noted. One of them is fellow Bong Hansen Clark, who is now officially the third South Asian congressman to ever hold the seat (Dalip Singh Saund and Bobby Jindal being the first two).
Voters in the Midwestern state of Michigan have elected the first Bangladeshi-American ever to serve in the U.S. Congress. The congressman-elect was born to a Bangladeshi immigrant father and an African-American mother. Clarke’s father passed away when he was 8 years old, but he says his father greatly influenced him and that he strongly identifies with his father’s culture.
Clarke, who was raised a Muslim and converted to Catholicism, says he also plans to work with local officials to end religious and racial profiling in Michigan. The city of Dearborn and other areas across Michigan are home to large Muslim populations. [voa]
South Carolina Gov.-elect Nikki Haley says former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin helped spread Haley’s message, but she’s not ready to endorse Palin for president. Haley says she’s proud to be a product of the tea party movement. She says that movement tries to fight what she called “arrogance” by Republicans and Democrats. [washingtonpost]Congrats to all the other Desi candidates we’ve profiled on our pages this election cycle and were not successful on Election Day. It takes a lot of courage to put yourselves out there the way you did. It was exciting to follow along with so many different races this season. Most of the candidates were young and their twenties or thirties and for most of them it was their first time running. I hope that they (and other South Asian American) continue to partake in our democratic process in such a significant way.
There are some important (tongue in cheek) lessons to be learned from this election cycle that I would like to highlight:
- A candidate is more likely to win when they lighten their brown skin color on campaign materials – such as Kamala Harris did.
- A candidate is more likely to win when their name is “Americanized” such as Harris, Clarke and Haley. Names like Trivedi, Yalamanchili and Sangisetty will only provide easy fodder for the opponent.
- A candidate should probably convert to a form of Christianity to win their race and stay away from the “foreign” religions such as Hinduism or Allah forbid, Islam (Harris is Baptist, Clarke is Catholic and Haley is Methodist). Unless you are in Jersey, then you can be Muslim and mayor.
- You can work in the White House, quit your job to go work on a movie that revolves around marijuana use, and get your job back at the White House. At least you can when you are Kalpen Modi.
- If you are fully brown candidate, but you have Sarah Palin on your side, you will be accepted by the Tea Party. All other brown people must be wary. Unless you are Hindu. Then you are totally invited – because Hindus do not worship the “terrorists’ monkey god” – you worship an “ACTUAL monkey god.” Right.
- If a candidate’s opponent call’s them a “turban topper” he will lose. Unless he shows up on a billboard wearing a cowboy hat with the words “Vote American” (such as what Mike Pompeo did to Raj Goyle in Kansas). Then, the opponent will win.
- If you are a candidate with Sikh ancestry, you will get called a “raghead”. Well actually, if you are any kind of brown, South Carolina State Senator Jake Knotts will likely call you “raghead”. As a joke, of course.
- If a South Asian Democratic candidate raises money from the South Asian community, it is racist. But if a South Asian Republican candidate does it is … also racist. So basically, raising money from your own Desi community is racist, despite your party affiliation.
- Running on a pro-Wall Street, pro-mosque, pro-West Bank settlement policy platform while touting a refugee story will come off as pandering for votes and confuse voters to no end.
- Islamaphobia was an Election Day tactic to bring conservative voters to the polls to swing the elections to the Republicans. Where’s all the hype around the Park 51 mosque now, or any of the other mosques that were protested against back in September and October? Gone. At least gone till the next national election.
- If you are a Democratic candidate that folds to Republican scare tactics and you return a donation because the donor is Muslim, chances are you’ll have to return donations to some of your other major donors as well. And you won’t win.
- South Asian Democratic congressional candidates have a good chance at winning their primaries. It’s just the rest of the race that proves to be more difficult (Trivedi, Goyle, Clark, Yalamanchili all won their primaries.)
Now…. who’s ready for 2012???