SUGAR LAND, Texas - Ft. Bend County and Congressional District 22 is approximately 20 percent Black and 20 percent Asian-American.
Joe Biden’s choice of a running mate, Kamala Harris, just happens to be both – a thrilling development for Sri Kulkarni, the hard-charging Democrat of Indian heritage looking to represent his ultra-diverse community in Washington.
“When I see a woman, the daughter of an Asian American immigrant, I see myself and I see kids here see that, too because those kids were the same kids I was growing up here, never seeing a face that looked like mine, as a mayor, as a governor, as anything and now those kids know and their parents know they can grow up to be anything they want in America,” said Kulkarni.
In an age where identity politics is still very much in play, Kulkarni believes Biden’s pick will attract additional electoral engagement from three critical constituencies – women, Black progressives and newly energized Asian-Americans.
“In Texas 22, we have the largest Asian American population. 20 percent of our district is Asian-American. This is going to inspire people. You are going to see record turnout which is going to help us flip Texas 22 and turn Texas blue,” said Kulkarni.
And yet political analyst and former Sugarland City Councilmember Jaquie Baly says Kulkarni’s characterization of Kamala Harris as a catalyst for Asian-American turnout is, at best, overly optimistic and potentially completely off target.
“She is not a known commodity in the Indo-American community and to try to spin herself as such in 80 days will be quite difficult,” said Baly, who says Republican Troy Nehls has spent more than two decades building relationships with Asian residents in Ft. Bend County.
Kamala Harris aside, Kulkarni has another little know attribute in his own “heritage holster”.
Turns out, he’s a direct descendant of Sam Houston and in Texas, that lineage certainly can’t hurt.