A Democratic Indian American Congressional candidate for the November elections to the US House of Representatives has been accused by his rival of playing the race card.
“The only one who has played the race card here is him, by going to Indian-American groups to raise money,” Mark Campbell, spokesman of sitting Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach, told Congressional newspaper ‘The Hill’ in an interview.
As per latest news reports, Geralch is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Manan Tridevi in his Pennsylvania 6th District. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine is headed to Philadelphia to raise money for him.
Cutting across party lines, the community, which has one of the highest per capita incomes across all the ethnic groups in the US, are contributing significantly for all the six Indian American candidates who are running for a record number of Congressional seats this year.
“Dr Manan Trivedi is running a campaign focused on the Pennsylvania families and businesses struggling in this economy. Gerlach, on the other hand, is making these ethnic charges to distract voters from his record of supporting the economic policies that created this recession,” Kathy Kulkarni, president of the Indian American Leadership Initiative (IALI), said in a statement.
Noting that Trivedi is now one of the Democratic Party’s top Congressional candidates, IALI said: “Let’s make Jim Gerlach regret the day his campaign attacked the Indian American community.”
It also urged the community to make a generous contribution to Trivedi’s campaign.
Terming it as an incredible accusation to make in an American political campaign where it is quite common for candidates from both parties to seek support from ethnic organisations, IALI said: “You would never see Gerlach attack an Italian American, Jewish American or Greek American candidate for raising money from their ethnic communities.”
It is ludicrous for Gerlach to say an Indian American candidate should live by different rules, Kulkarni said.
“His campaign statement shows disdain for the Indian American community and the Congressman should apologise immediately,” Kulkarni demanded.
In an election which has seen the largest number of Indian Americans running for office, this is not the first time that a candidate has experienced an attack by his/her political opponent in racial or ethnic lines.
Last month in Kansas, Republican Mike Pompeo apologised to his main rival Democrat Raj Goyle after his campaign tweeted a link to a blog post that included a racial slur aimed at Goyle and labelled President Obama as a Muslim.
The Pompeo campaign said the link to the post was sent in an error. “The statements of the blogger in no way reflect my views,” the Republican said in a statement. “There is no place in campaigns or in public discourse for language of this nature,” he added.
In California, Democratic nominee and Indian American Ami Bera returned the USD 250 received from a donor affiliated with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CARI), a group whom his Republican rivals alleged is linked with terrorists.
CARI, however, has denied these charges.
Bera has alleged that his rival Republican Congressman Dan Lungren’s campaign has been using the diversionary tactics of “fear and race” in order to deflect from jobs, the economy and healthcare — what his campaign is all about.
Lungern’s campaign denies such an allegation.
“Was it race-baiting when Barbara Boxer withdrew an award from the very same CAIR executive director? Bera is a rookie candidate making rookie mistakes,” a spokesman of Lungern told ’The Hill’
The other three Indian Americans running for the Congress are Reshma Saujani, who is giving a tough primary challenge to Congressman Carolyn Maloney in New York; Ravi Sangisetty, running for the seat left open by Congressman Charlie Melancon and Surya Yalamanchili who is challenging Republican Congressman Jean Schmidt in Ohio.
While all the six Indian American candidates running for the seats in US House of Representative are Democrats, leading the community is the Republican Nikki Haley who is running for the gubernatorial race.