Washington: Indian-American Nikki
Haley of Republican party Wednesday scripted history in US
politics by winning the governorship of South Carolina,
becoming only the second person of Indian-origin to be a
Governor of an American state.
In key mid-term polls in which President Barack
Obama`s Democrats were routed, Haley, 38, born of Sikh parents
who migrated from Punjab, became only the second Indian-
American to be a Governor of a US State after Bobby Jindal of
Louisiana; and also the first Indian-origin woman governor.
While six other Indian-origin candidates failed to
enter the House of Representatives. Haley received 52 per cent
of votes as against her Democratic rival Vincent Sheehan who
polled 46 per cent.
The much expected victory did not come before giving
some anxious moment to Haley and her campaign. For some
portion of the counting of votes, Haley was trailing behind,
and then was running neck-to-neck with Sheehan before she took
a handsome lead.
Sheehan gave Haley stiffer competition than was
expected. She will succeed Republican Governor Mark Sanford.
However, none of the other major Indian-American
candidates running for the US House of Representatives, won. A
record number of six Indian-Americans were in the fray.
Five of them were Democrats Manan Trivedi from
Pennsylvania, Ami Bera from California, Raj Goyle from Kansas,
Ravi Sangisetty from Louisiana and Surya Yalamanchili from
Ohio. Ashvin Lad from Illinois is the only Republican Indian
American in fray.
Haley has served three-terms in the South Carolina
House of Representatives where she represented Lexington
County and was also the first Indian-American to hold office
in that state.
Haley`s campaign was rocked by scandal earlier this
year when political lobbyist, Larry Marchant, claimed that he
had one-night stand with her at a conference in Salt Lake
City in 2008.
The mother of two, whose husband is a US
Army reserves officer, was also hit by another allegation that
she had a "physical" relationship with commentator Will Folks
Haley rejected the latest allegations as "a false and
outrageous desperate attack from a losing candidate`s paid
campaign consultant in the final week of the race."
Despite these controversies, Haley had the backing
of political Republican heavy weights like Sarah Palin and
"A strong pro family, pro life, pro Second Amendment,
pro development, conservative reformer. Your next governor
Nikki Haley," Palin said in her endorsement, earlier this
year. In June, Haley also had to deal with racist
commentary from Republican state Sen. Jake Knotts who called
her a "raghead" on an internet political show called Pub
The term is a slur typically used against Arabs or
other ethnic groups who wear turbans or headdresses "We
already got one raghead in the White House," he said.
"We don`t need another in the Governor`s Mansion."
Slate later apologized insisting that his comments were made
"Since my intended humorous context was lost in
translation, I apologise. I still believe Haley is pretending
to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I apologise
to both for an unintended slur," he said, at the time.
So far only two Indian-Americans have made it to the
House of Representatives Dalip Singh Saund and Bobby Piyush
Jindal. In Pennsylvania, Trivedi, a Iraq war veteran, who
ahead in the initial counting of votes lost to Republican Jim
Gerlach. While Trivedi had received 99,517 votes, Gerlach had
received 131,715 of the total votes polled.
In Kansas, Indian-American Raj Goyle, lost the
election to his Republican rival Mike Pompe. In the 4th House
District of Kansas, Pompe had received 58 per cent of the
total votes polled, while Goyle had got just 37 per cent.
In Louisiana`s Third Congressional District Ravi
Sangisetty lost to Republican rivals Jeffy Landry.
Sangisetty, a lawyer by profession, and who Sangisetty,
pitched himself as a "pro-life, pro-gun conservative Democrat"
received just 36 per cent of the total votes counted. Landry
had received 64 percent of the total votes. Same was the case
in Ohio with Surya Yalamanchill a former Apprentice
contestant lost to Republican Jean Schmidt by more than
In California Bera was trailing behind with more than
half of the votes counted. Bera had received 44 per cent of
the total votes counted, while his Republican rival Dan
Lungren was leading with 49 per cent.
Another Indian American, Kamala Harris, was trailing
behind her Republican rival for California Attorney General.
Harris was endorsed by the US President, Barack Obama. The
President had attended her fund raiser when he went to
California last month on his election campaign.