Sri Kulkarni Campaign Kicks into High Gear with Group Meets

The group of supporters who met with Texas Congressional District 22 hopeful candidate Sri Preston Kulkarni.

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA

SUGAR LAND: It was hurriedly put together but even then about 30 people came out to meet the announced second-time candidate for Texas’ 22nd Congressional District held since 2009 by Republican Pete Olson. Sri Preston Kulkarni had made himself amply known to the Indian community during his run for office last year, but many in the room were getting a chance to meet him face-to-face for the first time and pepper him with questions for his run again in this election cycle.

They were aware that in the last election in November 2018, the Democratic challenger and political neophyte Sri Preston Kulkarni came within 5% points of unseating Olson and the campaign received national attention for its unique attempt to drive minorities to voting booths.

The meeting at Witty and Lubeena Bindra’s house on Saturday, June 1 was designed to erase any misconceptions and brainstorm how best to help Kulkarni through the months before the primary election next March. Witty Bindra spoke about the candidate’s background and turned to his co-hosts for the evening, Rajesh and Shalu Arora to expand on their efforts to help. Rajesh, an IT professional who now runs a Montessori business with his wife, has devoted most of his spare time to work with the Kulkarni campaign and arranged for this dinner meeting.

In the past two years since he stepped into the limelight, Kulkarni’s story has become well-known, at least in the South Asian community. He has tapped into the imagination of populace of the gerrymandered 22nd Congressional District which meanders around like a twisting intestine from Pearland to south of Katy, the diversity of residents – 20 percent Asians, 25 percent Hispanic, 14 percent black and 41 percent white – is the greatest of any district in Texas.

Kulkarni, 40, himself is the product of a Marathi father and a white mother, as are his three other siblings. He is a former State Department diplomat who has served in Iraq, Israel, Russia, Taiwan and Jamaica and speaks Hindi, Spanish, Mandarin, Hebrew and Russian. This mixed background and his ability to relate to people of many cultures has endeared him in the minds of people of District 22 and Fort Bend, 25 percent of whom are foreign-born themselves. And it has also captivated the increasingly suave and cosmopolitan professionals of all races who live there.

Kulkarni innately understands that need and points to data that exemplifies just that. In the last election Asian voter participation jumped to 28 percent from only 6 percent four years earlier. He is counting on the diverse community to support him again in the 2020 election and outlined a series of steps that his race has to meet in order to achieve that. As a measure of success, he has already converted one prominent diehard Republican who was among the guests, into his corner.

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