As discussed previously, the 2012 election cycle involved several Sikh candidates at federal, state and local levels. Interestingly, to my knowledge, the Sikh candidates that were running were all in the state of California.
After last night’s election results, below is a tally of how each Sikh American candidate fared after the voting closed last night.
Representative Jerry McNerney versus Ricky Gill
California’s 9th Congressional District
Ricky Gill’s campaign has been a regular topic on this blog, particularly around his self-identification as a Sikh and the lack of representation of California 9th Congressional District’s large and historic Sikh community.
Capturing 46% of the vote, Gill was defeated by incumbent Jerry McNerney by over 13,000 votes. He conceded the victory to incumbent Jerry McNerney late last night:
“Although we did not emerge victorious in this campaign, I believe we accomplished something extraordinary. We put this community and its people first, and we took our story to the national stage. We fought for jobs, education, and a common-sense government. We made clear that the American Dream will rise once again in this community we love so dearly,” Gill said.
I have some closing thoughts about Ricky Gill’s campaign which I will leave for a later date.
Senator Mark Leno versus Harmeet Kaur Dhillon
California State Senate District 11
California’s State Senate District 11 represents largely the San Francisco area in California’s Senate. Considered one of the liberal areas of the country, San Francisco historically leans strongly towards the Democratic Party.
Harmeet Kaur Dhillon, attorney and a strong advocate for the Sikh American community, as well as the Chair of the San Francisco Republican Party, challenged incumbent Democratic State Senator Mark Leno. To run as a Republican in this part of the state would be an uphill battle, and the results bore this out as Leno retained his seat winning by an 85.5% to 15.5% margin.
Given this loss, she invoked the memory Abraham Lincoln:
“He knew he’s not going to win when he ran, but he ran out of principle,” said Dhillon. “And we run out of principle here in California. I ran because I am an American, I’m a taxpayer and I cannot accept out current leadership. So I ran as a citizen who wants to see a different leadership. I might not win this time, I might win in the future.”
For more about Harmeet Kaur Dhillon, read this profile of her in Voice of America.
Kash Gill for Yuba City, California, City Council
In a city with a large Sikh and South Asian population, Kash Gill was one of five candidates challenging for two spots on Yuba City, California’s City Council. A former mayor of Yuba City, Gill led all candidates with 33% of the vote to secure a spot on the Council. Incumbent John Dukes was also re-elected for the second seat.
“We did a lot of door-to-door campaigning,” Gill said of his first-place finish. “That has a lot to do with it.
“I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to the voters for giving me their trust,” he added. “I won’t let them down.”
Gill was a councilman from 2006-10 before narrowly losing re-election.