Kamala Harris winning in California attorney general race

November 4th, 2010 - 10:33 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, Nov 4 (IANS) After a dramatic turn around, Indian-American Kamala Harris is clinging to a razor-thin majority in the race to be attorney general of California. But the race is still not over. And it won’t be for weeks to come.

Initially trailing, Democrat Harris, daughter of an Indian mother and African-American father, pulled ahead of her Republican opponent Steve Cooley overnight and, with over seven million votes counted, was winning by two-tenths of a percentage point, or 14,800 votes Wednesday night.

But tens of thousands of provisional, absentee and damaged ballots still have to be tallied, and both campaigns expect that it will be weeks before the final numbers are in.

Harris’ campaign says they are confident they’ll pull out the win, while Cooley’s camp isn’t making any bets. They had declared victory around 11 p.m. Tuesday night, but Harris kept creeping up and by early Wednesday pulled ahead.

If her victory holds, Harris would become the first Indian-African-American and first woman ever to hold the job of California attorney general.

Born and raised in the East Bay, Harris was elected as the first woman district attorney in San Francisco’s history in December 2003, and as the first African-American woman and South Asian American woman in California to hold the office.

She was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term in November 2007.

In the only presidential endorsement of an Indian-American candidate, President Barack Obama had said: “Kamala has done a remarkable job in San Francisco. Now it’s time to send her to Sacramento so she can get those same results for all Californians-but she needs our help if she’s going to win this race.”

Harris is the daughter of Shyamala Gopalan, a Tamilian breast cancer specialist who came to the US from Chennai, to pursue her graduate studies at University of California, Berkeley.

After attending public schools, her strong commitment to justice and public service led her to Howard University, America’s oldest historically Black university, and then to the University of California and Hastings College of the Law.

Harris was recognised as a ‘Woman of Power’ by the National Urban League and received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the National Black Prosecutors Association.

She has featured on the Oprah Show and in Newsweek as one of “America’s 20 Most Powerful Women”.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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