GOP Announces Outreach to Indian, Asian Americans


L-r: Denny Gala, GOP Vice-chair Harmeet Dhillon, K.V. Kumar, and Lal Thakarar at a May 15 press event where the Republican Party announced an outreach effort to court Asian American voters in California. (Parimal M. Rohit photos)

By Parimal M. Rohit, Special to India-West

LOS ANGELES, Calif., United States: Aiming to bring in more Indian American and Asian Americans into the fold, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus visited The Dragon restaurant here in Los Angeles’ Koreatown district last week to announce the party’s outreach efforts to boost the GOP’s chances to reclaim the White House in 2016.

Priebus met with leaders of the larger Asian American community May 15 as part of a recent campaign to increase the party’s engagement with the Asian and Pacific Islander community. Among the ethnic communities who will be the focus of the Republican, or GOP, Party’s new campaign: Indian Americans.

While Priebus informed an intimate gathering he is hiring a full-time staff to serve the various Asian American communities within California. His announcement came on the heels of naming Stephen Fong as RNC National Asian and Pacific Islander Field Director and Jason Chung as RNC National Communications Director for Asian and Pacific Islander Engagement.

Specifically, the new staff will aim to register Indian Americans and other Asian American communities as Republicans and get them to vote in favor of the GOP in upcoming elections.

The RNC hopes to court and recruit enough of the Asian American community to help the party claim California 55 electoral votes – the most of any state – in the November 2016 election.


Party officials hope to reverse a disappointing statistic in the 2012 presidential election, where a Pew Research Center study reportedly showed more second generation Asian American and Latino voters voted in favor of President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

The May 15 announcement was made as part of a celebration of Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

“We want to do big things in our party,” Priebus said. “This is part of building out the Republican Party. We need to do better in the Asian and Pacific Islander community. If you don’t show up and aren’t campaigning on a year-round basis in the Asian American community, then why would you expect to do well? We’re trying to change that.”

Prior to Priebus’ announcement, California GOP vice-chair Harmeet Dhillon said it was important for Indian Americans and other Asian American groups to support candidates of Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Filipino descent, among others, who are running for office this year and next.

“The goal is to make sure we’re not just taking checks from Asians … but giving opportunities (and) making sure we communicate to Americans we are the party that represents the interests of everybody,” Dhillon told the 100-plus supporters in attendance.

The outreach effort will be spearheaded by the newly created position of California Asian Pacific Islander director.

Among those in attendance were a few representatives of the Southern California Indian American community, including K.V. Kumar, president and CEO of the U.S.-India Foundation, Lal Thakarar, and Amrit Bhandari.