October 16, 2020

Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Middle Eastern Candidates in the 2020 election

AAPI Americans are sometimes under reported when it comes to election coverage, but polling suggests that this demographic could be key in November. As Christine Chen of AAPI Vote notes, “Asian-Americans are set to be the margin of victory in Arizona, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.” Support for Biden varies across the AAPI community, whether by ethnic background or by age, showing the difficulty of a “one-size-fits-all” narrative, yet also the potential for growth when parties take this community seriously.

There are several AAPI candidates running for open and Republican-held seats across the United States. As we move into the final stretch of the campaign, we wanted to highlight a few of these candidates here. Look to these races to see if the new Congress will include more Democratic AAPI politicians! (We've taken the liberty of including candidates of Middle-Eastern background to this list as well: their successes on Election Day should also be celebrated!)

  • Sara Gideon, running against Susan Collins in a critical race for Senate control, is Indian on her father’s side.
  • Gina Ortiz Jones, running again in the Texas 23rd Congressional District (one of the few districts won by Hillary Clinton not currently in Democratic hands), is Filipino on her mother’s side.
  • Sri Preston Kulkarni, running again in the Texas 22nd Congressional District after almost winning in 2018, is Indian on his father’s side.
  • Hiral Tipirneni, running in the Arizona 6th against scandal-plagued Republican David Schweikert, is Indian.
  • Marilyn Strickland, the mayor of Tacoma and one of two Democrats running to replace Democrat Denny Heck in the Washington 10th Congressional District, is Korean on her mother’s side.   
  • Sima Ladjevardian, running in the Texas 2nd Congressional District in a surprisingly competitive race, is Iranian.
  • Lulu Sekaily, running in the Texas 3rd Congressional District and a recent addition to the DCCC's "Red To Blue" Program, is Lebanese. 
  • Donna Imam, running in the Texas 31st District, where current Senate candidate MJ Hegar almost won in 2018, is Indian.
  • Kiran Sreepada, running in the Tennessee 7th Congressional District against freshman Republican Mark Green, is Indian.

I put this together using the Daily Kos Candidate Demographics guide.