By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent
As AsAmNews predicted, voters elected a record number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to Congress Tuesday.
16 AAPI voting members of Congress were elected, surpassing by 2 the previous record.
Those elected include California Attorney General Kamala Harris who will become the first Indian American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She beat Rep Loretta Sanchez 63% -37%.
Harris is already looking forward to her job in the Senate.
“Whatever the results of the presidential election tonight, we know that we have a task in front of us,” Harris told her cheering supporters early in the night. “We know the stakes are high. When we have been attacked and when our ideals and fundamental ideals are being attacked, do we retreat or do we fight? I say we fight!”
Rep Tammy Duckworth (D-Chicago), a purple heart veteran of the Iraq War, won election to the U.S. Senate to represent the state of Illinois by beating incumbent Senator Mark Kirk 54% – 40%.
“Just as I try every day to live up to the sacrifice my buddies made to carry me off that battlefield, I will go to work in the Senate looking to honor the sacrifice and quiet dignity of all those Illinoisans who are facing challenges of their own,” she said Tuesday night.
Three Asian American women will now serve in the U.S. Senate. The other will be Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono who became the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate in 2012.
New to Congress will be Pramila Jayapal who beat fellow Democrat Brady Walkinshaw for the 7th Congressional district in Washington state 57% – 43%. Jayapal becomes the first Indian American woman elected to the House of Representatives. Just like Harris, Jayapal, who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders, looked toward working under a Trump presidency.
“If our worst fears are realized, we will be on the defense as of tomorrow,” she said. “We will have to fight for social justice as never before.”
Another newcomer to Congress will be Democrat Stephanie Murphy who beat 12-term incumbent John Mica in the 7th District of Florida 51% – 49%.
She is the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress. “Tonight, the people of central Florida rejected partisan deadlock and dysfunction and embraced a new approach,” said Murphy. “In Congress, I will work with both Democrats and Republicans, and I will always put people over politics.”
In California, high tech entrepreneur Ro Khanna defeated eight-time incumbent Mike Honda 60% – 40% in California’s Santa Clara County. Honda was saddled by an ethics investigation that dates back to his 2014 reelection. He is accused of using his staff during taxpayer time to work on his reelection.
Replacing Tami Duckworth in the House of Representatives will be S.Raja Krishnamoorthi. He beat Pete DiCianni 58% – 42% for the 8th District seat in Illinois.
Colleen Hanabusa returns to Congress to represent District 1 in Hawaii. She once held the seat, but gave it up to run for the U.S. Senate. She replaces the late Mark Takei who died of cancer.
Reelected to Congress were Rep Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento), Rep Judy Chu (D-Los Angeles County), Rep Ted Lieu (D-Santa Monica), Rep Mark Takano (D-Rivrside County), Rep Grace Meng (D-NY), Rep Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) , Rep Ami Bera(D-Sacramento County) and Rep Bobby Scott (D-VA).
Bera narrowly defeated Sheriff Scott Jones 51% – 49%.
(An earlier version of the story left out the reelection of Rep Bobby Scott. The correct number of voting AAPI members of Congress is 15. We regret the error)
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