Former U.S. Ambassador to India Rich Verma, who served in the second term of the Obama administration, has hit the campaign trail in support of Indian-American congressional candidates, and his first stop was in Phoenix, Arizona on Sept. 9, in support of Anita Malik and Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, who Democrats are counting on to flip Districts 6 and 8, respectively, from red to blue.
Verma was urged to jump into the political fray of the mid-term elections by the co-founders of the Indian American Impact Fund, ex-Kansas state legislator Raj Goyle and entrepreneur Deepak Raj. He told India Abroad that both Malik and Tipirneni are “great candidates” and that he was elated to headline two separate campaign events on their behalf.
Last month, Malik edged out Heather Ross in the Democratic primary and aligned herself for November’s general election, along with fellow progressive Tipirneni, as part of duo of Indian-American women in Arizona hoping to be part of the envisaged blue wave that will help the Democrats to recapture the majority in the House of Representatives. Verma described the November mid-terms as “the most important election in generations.” He said he had participated in the Phoenix-area events to help the candidates generate increased attention and fundraising.
“Anita and Hiral are immigrants, they are smart and dynamic, and they are compassionate, strong and effective -- this is what we lack in today's political leadership,” said Verma, who served as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in the first term of the Obama administration.
Verma said he was committed to helping the other Indian-American candidates and said he planned to travel to Houston, Michigan and Ohio to campaign for other Democratic House candidates during the next two months. He said he intends to help mobilize the community for Democratic Senate races as well in Florida, Nevada, Texas and Missouri.
“The stakes are too high to sit this one out," he said. "I've been so concerned about the direction the country has taken. The bigotry and racism, the insulting of our key allies and friends around the world, the turning our backs on working people and immigrants, and the mountains of debt we are leaving our kids and future generations.”
He recalled when he started working on Capitol Hill in 1987. “There were about six congressional staffers in the entire House and Senate,” he said. “Now, there are five members of Congress of Indian descent and dozens of staffers. We've come a long way. But we can do more."