WASHINGTON (TIP): An Indian- American physician from California has become only the third person of Indianorigin to be elected to the US House of Representatives, attesting to the incremental progress the thriving community is making in politics and public life in America. The Sacramento County Registrar of Voters announced on Friday that Ami Bera had increased his lead to 2.2 per cent against sitting Congressman Dan Lungren in last week’s election, surging ahead by 5,696 votes after the latest round of counting, a margin Bera and his supporters think is insurmountable.
The regular counting without absentee ballots and provisional votes had seen the two rivals less than 200 votes apart. “Today’s update shows that we’ve processed another 38,510 ballots since Tuesday’s update. This leaves an estimated 7,782 vbm (vote by mail) and of course the 31,000 provisional ballots left to process,” the County Registrar said. Next update is scheduled for Monday. But Associated Press and the local media, not to speak of Bera himself, called the race for the Indian-American Democrat, for whom this was a second shot at the seat. “It’s increasingly clear that the voters of Sacramento County want new leadership that puts the people first. Our lead continues to widen and we are confident that this election will be resolved in our favor,” Bera said in a statement.
Lungren is yet to concede the race, but Bera is already in Washington DC for an orientation course for new lawmakers, which incidentally is being led by a committee headed by Lungren. Earlier this week, Bera, who describes himself as a Unitarian, attended the White House Diwali celebration along with Tulsi Gabbard, another newly elected lawmaker from Hawaii who is a self-described Hindu- American. Bera is only the third Indian elected to the US Congress after Dalip Singh Saund, who was a mathematician with farming interests, and Bobby Jindal, who is a health policy expert and currently governor of Louisiana. Saund in fact was the first person of non-Abrahamic faith elected to the U.S Congress and the only Indian- American so far to clock three terms.
Like his Indian-American predecessors, Bera too has an impressive academic record in keeping with the community’s cachet. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of California at Irvine, and went on to get an MD in 1991. He served as Associate Dean for Admissions at the UC Davis School of Medicine and later as the Chief Medical Officer for the County of Sacramento. His wife Janine is also a physician and they have a 14-year young daughter, Sydra. “As a first generation American, born and raised in California, the promise of America has been the story of my life,” Bera told voters in his election pitch, promising to work for a “more compassionate, sensible, and sustainable America.”