• Zoya Shaik

This Asian American Candidate and his Unprecedented Campaign

Texas’s 22nd Congressional District has historically been red, but Democratic candidate Sri Preston Kulkarni is hoping to change that, and he’s got a plan like no other.


Growing up in Houston, Sri was raised in a middle class family, his father an immigrant and his mother a descendant from Sam Houston. He graduated with honors from University of Texas, and later served as a foreign policy, defense and veterans affair advisor for the United States Senate. Kulkarni was also a foreign Service officer, commissioned by Secretary of State Colin Powell.


If elected, he will become the first person of Hindu faith and first Asian American Member of Congress from Texas.


Kulkarni has garnered attention for his unique approach to campaigning, called relational organizing, where one establishes a connection to a certain community, usually through language, and gets the vote through relatability and established connection. Callers from Kulkarni’s campaign have used 13 different languages, collecting votes through a multicultural approach. Kulkarni states “ because our campaign is so diverse, we can actually reach more people.” His campaign has used Hindi, Telugu, Punjabi, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and many others, attracting voters with even a simple greeting.

Why the focus on this minority?

In this election, the Asian vote is especially significant. 72% have never been approached, either by a Democrat or a Republican. Sri Preston Kulkarni is changing that, and he believes, “when you approach an immigrant family, there's a whole community behind them.” Kulkarni is not wrong, and his tactics are working. Fort Bend County (part of the 22nd Congressional District ) has a significant Asian population. Kulkarni is closer than ever to flipping the 22nd District- many independent observers claiming this election’s results to be a toss-up.

It goes beyond Texas too. The recently acknowledged role of Asian American in politics has been the changing point in many districts, all across the United States. The liberal trend with Asian Americans has succeeded in turning the districts they live in blue. And it's not slowing down, with Asian-Americans being the fastest growing racial/ethnic group of voters in the United States. And like Kulkarni, many candidates are harnessing this power that could be the determining factor of their victory, with popular examples including Cory Booker or Andrew Yang.

As for the younger generation that can’t vote? Kulkarni encourages you to join an organization, and fight for your beliefs. “If you want to get involved in politics, you can find a campaign that you feel connected to and find a way to volunteer with that campaign. Spend your time getting to understand how to do that.”


For more information on Sri Preston Kulkarni’s campaign, or to volunteer:

https://sri2020.com/





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