Indian American Ashwin Madia loses in Minnesota

November 5th, 2008 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 5 (IANS) Indian American Ashwin Madia has lost to his Repulican opponent Erik Paulsen in a hotly contested Congressional election in the mid-western US state of Minnesota.Madia, an Iraq war veteran who ran as a Democrat, accepted defeat early Wednesday morning after trailing throughout Tuesday evening for the seat held by retiring Republican Representative Jim Ramstad in Third Congressional District, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

“It was clear the voters were hungry for change and they saw Erik Paulsen as the answer to that,” Madia said graciously in his concession statement. “I hope that Erik Paulsen continues the tradition of Jim Ramstad and represents the district in a moderate, bipartisan nature.”

Currently there are no Indian Americans in the US Congress. Bobby Jindal, who was elected in 2004 and then in 2006, quit in October 2007 to become the governor of Louisiana. Jindal was the second Indian American to get elected to the Congress after Dilip Singh Saund, who served the 29th district of the state of California from 1957 to 1963.

The 30-year-old Madia has recently been shown with his skin digitally darkened in an advertisement produced by the National Republican Congressional Committee in support of Republican Paulsen.

Reacting to this tactic, Minnesota State Senator Satveer Chaudhary had said earlier this week that those ads “portray Madia as a dark, sinister intruder at best, and at worst a terrorist. It’s the race card.”

Chaudhary is among the few Indian-American state lawmakers in the US and is the first Indian-American senator in Minnesota, where the community is small.

In his victory message, Paulsen however praised Madia for his patriotism and the good work he has done for the country.

Praising his supporters, the Republican said he had a message to all voters in the district: “We have serious problems in this country. I pledge to work for all of you.”

Paulsen, a seven-term member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and a one-time House majority leader, out-performed Madia in nearly every portion of the district, Minnesota’s most prosperous. That included districts where Madia expected to do well, such as Minnetonka and Edina.

The race to replace Ramstad attracted big-buck outside influences, even though voters in the district have sent a Republican to Congress in every election cycle since 1961.

Madia and Paulsen performed near equally in fundraising, with Paulsen raising $2.4 million to Madia’s $2.3 million.

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