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AAPI Fundraiser for Asian Democratic Candidates for Elections

The Democratic candidates for various political and judicial offices in Harris County and Kathy Cheng, candidate for Texas Supreme Court Place 6 with State Representative Gene Wu at the fundraiser on September 26

The Democratic candidates for various political and judicial offices in Harris County and Kathy Cheng, candidate for Texas Supreme Court Place 6 with State Representative Gene Wu at the fundraiser on September 26

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON:  Standing on the circular landing and looking down on the high-ceilinged foyer, the flock of candidates represented a cross-section of diversity that State Representative Gene Wu said had not before been seen in Texas politics in either of the two mainstream parties.

“We have nearly 30 candidates of Asian descent running in the upcoming November elections,” Wu said, “representing the diversity within Harris and surrounding counties.” Wu himself is seeking re-election in Texas District 137 where he was first elected in 2012. He and Hebert Vo from District 149 (also seeking re-election) are the only two elected officials of Asian descent – both born overseas, Wu in China and Vo in Vietnam – from Harris County currently in the Texas House.

But there are many other hopefuls who want to increase that number, like Alex Karjeker a first-time candidate seeking election to Texas House District 129 which he believes is flippable by a very tiny margin. He is of Filipino-Indian descent and is running against incumbent Republican Dennis Paul and Libertarian Joseph Majsterski for the South Houston district that covers Pearland, Friendswood, Clear Lake all the way to Kemah.

Texas House District 129 Candidate Alex Karjeker with his wife Bijal Mehta

Texas House District 129 Candidate Alex Karjeker with his wife Bijal Mehta

Karjeker is of Marathi heritage and was born and raised in Houston, He studied mathematics and economics at the University of Texas and earned master’s degrees in public policy and economics from Georgetown University in 2012 and was married to Bijal Mehta last year in October.

The candidates came together for a fundraiser organized by the Asian American & Pacific Islanders Committee and held at the magnificent home of Dr. Kamila and Nomi Husain in Piney Point on Wednesday, September 26. “We have now held 20 fundraisers here this election season,” said Nomi Husain, who is a fervent supporter of political causes. The event was co-organized by Rufi Natarajan, the Democratic Precinct 70 Chair.

The 60 or so supporters who attended the event also heard from Texas Congressional District 22 candidate Sri Preston Kulkarni who has caught the imagination of many Asian and minority voters in a race for the seat currently held by nine-year incumbent Republican Pete Olson. It is also considered a very tight race and flippable as well.

the candidates mixed with guests and supporters at the home of Dr. Kamila & Nomi Husain in Piney Point.

The candidates mixed with guests and supporters at the home of Dr. Kamila & Nomi Husain in Piney Point.

Among others at the event was Rabeea Collier, a Pakistani-American and native Houstonian who went to Kingwood High School, the University of Texas at Austin and received her Law degree from Texas Southern University. She is married to Robert Collier, an attorney, and they have two sons. Rabeea Collier is seeking to become the Judge of the 113th Civil District Court of Harris County and is running against Republican Michael Landrum who was appointed to the position in May 2013 by Governor Rick Perry.

Asked why the Democratic Party’s television ads weren’t as forceful and combative to counter hard-hitting ads runs by Republicans, Gene Wu replied that the idea was to differentiate the Democratic candidates and project a positive, compromising side rather than take a vicious tone especially for people the voters didn’t know well enough.

Also in attendance was one of two Asian-American candidates for the Texas Supreme Court, Kathy Cheng who is running for Place 6. The other candidate, incumbent judge of the Harris County 127th Civil Court Ravi Sandill who is running for Place 4 was on the campaign trial and unable to attend.

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