"We came to this country for freedom, privatization capitalism . . . "
Houston - HOUSTON - The crowded field of Republicans hoping to represent Congressional District 22 in November lined up on stage. In the crowd, a moderate-sized group of Indian Americans, mixed with some undecided voters of different races, looking to figure out who to support on "Super Tuesday." Immigrants and minorities are largely grouped into the Democratic party, an impression one group is looking to change.
"There's a misconception that the republican party is not for immigrants and its not inclusive," said Radah Dixit, President of the Indo-Conservatives of Texas who hosted the forum for the CD22 candidates.
"We came to this country for freedom, privatization, capitalism - all these things that we left India for - so why are we voting opposite and going to the other side?"
One by one, the candidates in alphabetical order, gave their pitch. Some looking to show how they relate to the Indian community.
"The Indian community is a sleeping giant in America, in Texas and in Houston," Jon Camarillo.
Sitar player and candidate Aaron Hermes says he's perfect to represent this community because he's a part of it, "This is the second-highest Indian population next to New Jersey and you've welcomed me in as your own."
Two men on stage didn't need to relate - they've lived it. Both Dan Matthews and Bangar Reddy were born in India and are now running to represent Ft. Bend County in Congress.
Immigration is one of the biggest issues for member Madhu Sekharan.
"We've lived the American dream as legal immigrants," said Sekharan "Many of us have had to go through a long process and earn our citizenship. We need to follow the rules of this country."
On the other side of the ticket, another Indian-American is looking to win the democratic primary. Sri Kulkarni narrowly lost to Rep. Pete Olson in 2018. He was the number one target by candidates during the forum.
Pierce Bush, the early frontrunner, is confident he's not a threat saying, "We will beat Sri Kulkarni - or whoever the democrat is - because our ideas are better."
"He speaks six languages but he lies in all of them, " said Hermes.
For the newly formed IACT group - inclusion is key. Candidates agree that to keep the CD22 seat red in November, they're going to have to work to include everyone.
Dan Matthews, "Fort Bend county is 62 percent minorities. Unless we go and find those - most of them are democrats - and bring them to the republican party we could lose district 22."
Bangar Reddy "We do not want to divide the community into Indian Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, Caucasians - We are one America."
"Its time for us to be public, loud and let people know that Indians are conservatives," Radah Dixit.