Washington: Arab-American and Indian-American candidates had a mixed night in the midterm elections that gave the Republican Party control of the US Senate and a larger majority in the US House of Representatives.
In South Carolina, where an Indian-American was pitted against an Arab-American in a high-stakes battle for the governorship, it was the Indian-American who prevailed.
Nikki Haley decisively defeated Vincent Sheheen by a margin of almost 15 per cent of the vote to win a second term as governor of South Carolina.
Haley, whose parents immigrated from the Indian state of Punjab, said her victory was proof “there are no boundaries for any little girl or any little boy in the state of South Carolina.”
Another prominent Arab-American candidate, Nick Rahall, a Lebanese-American Democrat, was ousted by Republican challenger Evan Jenkins from his seat in the US House of Representatives that he had held since 1976.
The Republicans successfully tied their Democratic opponents to the policies of US President Barack Obama, whose approval ratings have sagged in recent months. It was that strategy that doomed Rahall’s bid to retain his seat, but its most significant outcome was the defeat of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by Republican Mitch McConnell who retained his Senate seat from Kentucky. McConnell’s victory and his party’s strong performance in the midterms has ensured he will become the next Senate majority leader.
In Florida, Charlie Crist, a Democrat who is part Lebanese, narrowly lost his fight to unseat Republican Rick Scott from the governorship.
In Texas, David Alameel, a Lebanese-American Democrat, was trounced by incumbent US Senator John Cornyn, a Republican.
In Oregon, Monica Wehby, a Republican, lost her bid for a US Senate seat to Jeff Merkley a Democrat.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Arab-American community.
Darrell Issa, a Republican, defeated Democrat Dave Peiser by more than 20 per cent of the vote to retain his seat in the US House of Representatives from California.
In Louisiana, Charles Boustany Jr., a Republican and grandson of Lebanese immigrants, defeated his Democratic opponent Bryan Barrilleaux to win a seat in the US House of Representatives.
In Michigan, Justin Amash, a Republican and second generation Arab-American of Palestinian Christian and Syrian Greek Orthodox descent, defeated Bob Goodrich, a Democrat, in the US House of Representatives race.
For the Indian-American candidates, there was little to cheer on election night besides Haley’s victory.
Ami Bera, a Democrat and the lone Indian-American member of the US House of Representatives, was fending off a challenge from Republican Doug Ose in California in a race that was too close to call at the time of going to press.
Ro Khanna, who is challenging fellow Democrat Mike Honda for his US House of Representatives seat in California, was also in a race that was down to the wire.
In prominent races that did yield results the Indian-American candidates fared poorly.
Neel Kashkari, a Republican, was soundly defeated in his bid to unseat California Governor Jerry Brown; while Manan Trivedi, a Democrat and Iraq war veteran, lost his bid for a US House of Representatives seat to Ryan Costello in Pennsylvania.