Close in 2018, Sri Kulkarni to Campaign for 22nd District 2020 Race

Sri Kulkarni captures a selfie with his approximately 300 supporters, who gathered at Safari Texas to witness the announcement of his candidacy for the 22nd Congressional District.

BY PRAMOD KULKARNI

SUGAR LAND – In 1964, George Bush Sr. ran for the US Congress in Texas District 7. Bush Sr. lost that race, but came back as the winner two years later.

This historical nugget may be instructive for Sri Kulkarni, former Democratic nominee and United States Foreign Service Officer, who announced his campaign to represent Texas’ 22nd Congressional District at a rally on Saturday, April 6 at the Safari, Texas ballroom.

Texas’ 22nd District is located just south of the City of Houston, and covers parts of Ford Bend, Harris, and Brazoria counties.

As a political neophyte in 2018, Sri Kulkarni came within 5% points of unseating incumbent Republican Congressman Pete Olson. Kulkarni’s campaign received national attention through his unique attempt to drive minorities to the voting booths.

One of the lessons learned from the 2018 campaign was evident at Saturday’s rally with the campaign changing from Sri Preston Kulkarni to just Sri for Congress as a way of making it short and snappy for voters to remember.

This time around, Kulkarni also appears to have more support from the Democratic national party, who may be targeting the 22nd district with a legitimate chance of winning for a Democratic candidate. In the 2018 mid-term elections, the Democrats were able to wrest majority control from the Republicans. However, gerrymandering over the years has made it difficult for Democrats to convert the Red districts into Blue.

At the campaign rally, the formal portion of the program began with the introduction of contesting various Democratic candidates, who are contesting for Houston city council seats as well as independent school district seats throughout the 22nd Congressional Districts.

Sri receives a maternal hug from Margaret Kulkarni, who traces her roots to the Texas hero Sam Houston.

Several elected officials also took to the podium to voice their support for Sri Kulkarni’s candidacy, including recently elected Judges Julie Matthew and KP George.
The audience heard from two individuals who have a strong emotional bond with Sri — Ramesh Bhutada, Chairman and CEO of Star Pipe Products and an iconic Indo-American community leader, and his mother, Margaret Kulkarni.

In expressing his support for Sri, Bhutada spoke of inclusivity and diversity that is the hallmark of the Sri for Congress campaign. “We have 450 employees working in our company. We have people from all nationalities such as India, Pakistan, and Thailand; people who are born in Houston, Texas and all other states; we have people of all faiths, including Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Jews,” explained Bhutada, “With this diversity, we have built a superior organization. The diversity in our company is representative of the diversity that exists in Distrct 22 and Fort Bend County, which is the most diverse county in the United States. It is about time that Fort Bend County sends someone to Washington DC, who truly embodies the spirit of diversity, who understands how to work with different ethnicities. Sri is well placed for this job as a foreign service officer, who has worked for 14 years in Washington DC and in different countries.”

Sri’s mother Margaret thanked the volunteers at the campaign rally. “This group of people is amazing. They are the ones changing Fort Bend County and together, we are going to change the entire country.”

“My father came to the United States as a proud immigrant in 1969,” Sri explained as he announced his candidacy, “But you may not know that the first generation of our family actually came to America in the 1600s. One of our ancestors, was John Houston, who came to America from Ireland before the Revolution. His grandson was Sam Houston, the hero of Texas independence. So the commitment to public service in our family runs deep. All of you here have the same commitment”

Among the speakers at the gathering was Ramesh Bhutada, who expressed his support for Kulkarni’s inclusive campaign based on diversity.

“We need a commitment to public service right now,” Kulkarni said. “If you turn on the TV, there is so much nastiness. We’re better than this. That’s what this campaign is all about.”
“Problem-solving continues to take the back seat to divisive politics in Washington, and it’s failing the people of Houston,” said Kulkarni. “I’ve dedicated my career to bringing people to the table, listening to their problems, and finding solutions that move communities forward. I’m running for Congress because it’s time Washington does the same. Progress for the people of our district – not partisan politics – is what we need.”

In this context, Kulkarni brought up the charge of his opponent, Pete Olson, that he was a carpet bagger. In response to a question from a student, Olson had said “It wasn’t racism, it was just politics.”

In response, Kulkarni said,” This is the type of cynical politics that we don’t need in our country.

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