Washington: A daughter of Sikh immigrant parents from Amritsar, Nikki Haley won the governor’s race in South Carolina as Americans started voting on Tuesday to decide which party controls the Congress and pick governors in 37 states.
All 435 seats in the House and 37 in the Senate are being decided on Tuesday with polls and pundits predicting a rout for President Barack Obama’s Democratic party with the election considered a referendum on Obama’s first two years in office.
But Republican Haley, born Nimrata (Nikki) Randhawa emerged victorious as the South Carolina State Election Commission reported heavy voter turnout at many precincts throughout the state shortly after polls opened at 7 am on Tuesday.
She will be the first woman chief executive of the state and America’s second Indian-American governor after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, who became the first with his election three years ago.
The race for governor between Republican Haley and Democrat Vincent Sheheen, to replace Governor Mark Sanford was believed to the most expensive in state history.
Haley saw quite a bit of controversy surround her campaign before the primary earlier this year. From a racial slur from a fellow lawmaker to unproven accusations of an affair by a political blogger, Haley still snagged the Republican nomination.
Democrat Kamala Harris, San Francisco District Attorney, is giving a tough fight to Republican Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County District Attorney for California attorney general.
But five other Indian-Americans face uphill election bids for the US Congress in California, Kansas, Louisiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Amerish “Ami” Bera, 45, a physican and medical school administrator whose California district includes Sacramento, has raised more money than sitting Republican Congressman Dan Lungren. But he still faces a tough race ahead.
Lawyer and State Representative, Raj Goyle, 35, of Wichita, Kansas, is running in an open seat against Republican Mike Pompeo.
Attorney Ravi Sangisetty, 28, of Houma, Louisiana, whose rural district takes in 13 southeastern parishes, is running in an open seat against Republican Jeff Landry of New Iberia.
Manan Trivedi, a former Navy surgeon who served in the Iraq war as an officer in a unit which experienced the first war casualty, is giving a tough challenge to four-time Representative Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania’s 6th District.
And Surya Yalamanchili, 28, a Procter & Gamble marketing executive in eastern Cincinnati, is challenging Republican Jean Schmidt seeking her third full term in Congress.