Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.), has returned the favor, endorsing U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D.-Wash.), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, for her reelection bid for her third term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jayapal had endorsed Sanders for President during a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 19, and the U.S. lawmaker was also appointed by the Sanders campaign to be its National Health Policy Chair and Washington State Chair of Bernie 2020.
Since then, she has regularly been in Iowa campaigning for Sanders ahead of the Iowa Caucus.
Obviously elated over Sanders’ endorsement, which she received on Jan. 30, and is expected to further beef up her overflowing campaign coffers, Jayapal said, “Bernie and I are united in our commitment to fighting for all of us, taking on the status quo and entrenched interests, and bringing about the deep structural change we desperately need.”
“We recognize that working people in Washington’s Seventh Congressional District and across the country want bold, passionate, and authentic leaders to bring justice and opportunity for all,” she added, and declared, “Together, we’re building the progressive movement that will transform our country, and I’m so honored for his continued support.”
In endorsing Jayapal, which he also did, when she first ran for Congress, and also traveling to Seattle to give her campaign an additional boost, Sanders said, “Pramila Jayapal has been a brilliant leader for progressive ideas like Medicare for All and College for All.”
Congressional sources said that Jayapal, one of the leading progressives and among the most high profile women of color in the U.S. Congress, is likely to cruise to a third term in Nov. and may even surpass the nearly 80 percent of the ballot she has received during her previous runs, and that even without Sanders’ endorsement or any other major endorsements, her victory was a formality.
But these sources told India Abroad that why a Sanders’ endorsement mattered was because of his penchant to raise massive amounts of money in small amounts that has made him the highest fund-raiser among all Democrats, and that his endorsement of Jayapal and blast mails from him on behalf of Jayapal’s campaign, could once again scare away any contenders even mulling a run against her, and like her previous campaign, serve up an uncontested victory at the polls.
Thus, they argued that besides making her re-election a “no-brainer,” it would also boost her profile not just among the progressives, but also among the moderate Democrats in the House, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) and others in the party, that she was “a player to reckon with” and someone who “has to be taken into account, considering her growing clout and influence,” in both policy formulations and envisaged legislative proposals.
The sources also acknowledged that the Sanders endorsement, which would also translate into exponential and additional funding to her campaign kitty, would also absolve her of any obligation towards some segments of the older Indian American community, who have been castigating her in recent months and calling for a boycott of any support or contributions to her campaign ever since she became a trenchant critic of the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir in the aftermath of New Delhi’s abrogation of Article 370 that provided the Muslim-majority state with special status and also her strong criticism of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Jayapal has been attacked by this wing of the community for introducing a Congressional resolution calling on India to respect the religious freedom of all residents in Jammu and Kashmir and to expeditiously lift the communications blackout in the valley, that has gradually continued to gain some traction and has garnered over 40 co-sponsors, although it’s still a far cry from passage in the House.
When India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, was in Washington for the two-plus-two meeting with his diplomatic counterpart U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Dec. 18, he apparently "abruptly cancelled" a meeting with the leadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee after they refused demands to exclude Jayapal,
Immediately after this hearing, the right wing of the Hindutva fringe in the U.S., launched a scurrilous attack on Jayapal for her pointed and tough questioning of the senior Trump administration officials, and after she made clear that she had a resolution in the works, the majority diaspora community began imploring her not to go through with it, but she introduced it nonetheless.
And since then, this segment of the community, and several others in the community, who supported her with gusto when she first ran for Congress, and thereafter when she ran for re-election in 2018, have become her strongest critics, calling on the community to boycott her and not contribute to her campaign, although the Generation X’ers and millennials in the community, have been steadfast in their support for her.
Her critics, led by Satya Dosapati, who unabashedly aligns himself with VHP and RSS have described Jayapal and her fellow progressives, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D.-Calif.), who has also voiced his distaste for Hindutva, as “cowards,” and “insecure and opportunistic trash,” and that the Hindu American community should “not fund and support just because someone has brown skin.”