Record Indian Americans boost formation of national body

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On May 8, 2012, an historic chapter opens for America’s fastest growing demographic, the Asian American community, including Indian Americans, as leaders across the political spectrum form the “APAICS Leadership Network,” the first of its kind to unite elected and appointed officials, incumbents and challengers.

The official announcement will be made at an event commemorating Asian Pacific American Heritage month, where President Barack Obama will keynote the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) 18th annual gala awards dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington on Tuesday, May 8.

APAICS president and CEO Gloria Chan thanked President Obama ahead of the annual celebration, praising his commitment to engage Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders from across the country.

“It’s a very special occasion to have the President address our community’s rising leaders at this annual gathering,” said Chan. “In the four decades since the first Asian American became mayor of a major US city, the ranks of AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) political leaders at all levels of government have grown by leaps and bounds, in part thanks to President Obama.”

The new network was developed as the current election cycle sees 25 challenger candidates – one for the Senate and at least two dozen for the House – making the AAPI community crucial in the upcoming battle to control Congress.

“There can no longer be any question about the political clout of the Asian American community – the time for an AAPI leadership network has come,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu, a founding board member of the APAICS Leadership Network and chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Summing up the underlying aim for the network, Washington state Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, chair of the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators and a founding board member of the network said, “Politics is a tough business and this network will help us ensure that, through mentoring, networking and support, no AAPI leader falls through the cracks.”

Eight network members are Indian American, four are Chinese American, three are Japanese American, two are Korean American, and one each is Hmong American, Taiwanese American and Native Hawaiian. Another three are of mixed race. Three candidates are Republican, with the remainder running as Democrats. In addition to Asian American hub states like California, Hawaii, Michigan, New York and Texas, the candidates also hail from Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Washington.

This representation of candidates tracks closely with recent census data on AAPIs. According to the 2010 US Census, Chinese and Indians are among the top three Asian American ethnic populations in the country, with South Asians seeing the sharpest rise in their numbers since 2000.

There have been only two Indian Americans to date elected to the top US legislative body. California’s Dalip Singh Saud, a Democrat and naturalized American citizen, served in the House from 1957 to 1963, while Republican Bobby Jindal was elected to a House seat from Louisiana in 2004.

Asian American and Pacific Islander congressional candidates running this election cycle include:

·      Mazie Hirono (D), US Senate HI        

·      Dr. Ami Bera (D), CA-03

·      Ranjit “Ricky” Gill (R), CA-09

·      Blong Xiong (D), CA-21

·      Otto Lee (D), CA-22

·      Justin Kim (D), CA-31

·      Sukhee Kang (D), CA-45

·      Jay Chen (D), CA-39

·      Mark Takano (D), CA-41

·      Vipin Verma (D), FL-06

·      Charles Djou (R), HI-01

·      Muliufi Francis “Mufi” Hannemann (D), HI-02

·      Tulsi Gabbard (D), HI-02

·      Esther Kia’aina (D), HI-02

·      Tammy Duckworth (D), IL-08

·      Dr. Syed Taj (D), MI-11

·      Upendra Chivukula (D), NJ-07

·      Grace Meng (D), NY-06

·      Nathan Shinagawa (D), NY-23

·      Dr. Manan Trivedi (D), PA-06

·      Ron Bhalla (R), TN-3

·      Joe Chow (R), TX-06

·      KP George (D), TX-22

·      Steve Hobbs (D), WA-01

·      Darshan Rauniyar (D), WA-01

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