There was a collective sigh of relief in the Indian-American community, particularly among its Democratic political activists, when Associated Press, 10 days after the election on
November 8, declared Dr Amerish ‘Ami’ Bera
the victor in California’s 7th Congressional
District after almost all of the absentee and
mail-in ballots were in, according to the
Sacramento Registrar of Voters.
AP’s declaration came shortly after Congressman Bera’s lead over his Republican opponent, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones,
grew to more than two percent, with 129,064
votes to 123,056.
Prior to AP’s call, this race — one of the nastiest Congressional races with allegations and
insinuations being bandied back and forth —
was one of the last two House races in the
entire nation yet to be called.
In a statement immediately after AP called
the race, Bera said, ‘It’s been my honor to serve
this community first as a doctor and for
these past 4 years as a member of Congress.
‘I’m incredibly thankful for the hundreds of
volunteers who knocked doors and made phone calls during this campaign because they believe in standing up for women’s access to
healthcare, protecting Medicare and Social
Security, and ensuring all of our Veterans
receive the benefits they’ve earned,’ he said.
‘After months of a divisive national election,’
he added, ‘our job now is to bring our country
The Bera-Jones race saw both candidates plagued by scandals, and each candidate
attacked the other using these scandals as fodder, which got nastier by the day.
Dr Bera faced scrutiny due to revelations that
his father illegally funneled money to two of his
past campaigns. In August, a federal judge sentenced Babulal Bera, who is 83 and beset by a
variety of medical complications, to a year and
a day in prison.
Congressman Bera consistently maintained
that he was completely unaware about his
father’s illegal behavior and in May the US
attorney’s office also said it found no evidence
he was involved.
In an interview with India Abroad a couple
of months after his father’s sentencing, Dr Bera
said he did not believe his credibility had been
adversely impacted despite all the criticism
and vitriolic attacks against him.
Even after this controversy erupted, he
argued more than 80 percent of Democrats at
the California Democratic Convention had
endorsed him, clearly expressing their support
for his incumbency and re-election
Over the summer, allegations surfaced that
Jones had sexually harassed a subordinate at
the sheriff’s department. In a court deposition,
the Sacramento Bee, reported that a female
deputy working for Jones said he made multi-
ple unwanted sexual advances to her more
than a decade ago. Jones denied the allega-
Coupling these allegations with Jones’ tough
stance on illegal immigration Bera slammed
the sheriff, comparing him to Donald Trump,
who faced claims of sexual harassment from
A day before AP called the election in Bera’s
favor, in an exclusive interview with India
Abroad, the Congressman had expressed
strong optimism that he would be re-elected
for a third time.
“We’re about 5,000 votes ahead and we’ve
doubled our lead since election day,” he had
said then. “So, we feel pretty good where we
are. I would imagine the race will be called in
our favor in the next few days.”
With his re-election, Dr Bera tied the re- cord of the most consecutive terms served by an Indian American in Congress, previously held by Dalip Singh Saund, also as a
Democrat from California.
The first Indian American elected to Congress, he had represented California’s 29th
Congressional District for three terms — from
January 3, 1957 to January 3, 1963.
In 2012 and 2014, Dr Bera won by 9,191 and
1,455 votes, respectively, after several days of
‘As dean of the Indian-American representatives in
Congress, Ami will show Pramila, Raja and Ro
how to balance district and our community.’
Aziz Haniffa reports on Ami Bera’s historic
victory and the hope it has kindled.
‘It’s hard to believe
Dr Ami Bera at last year’s Diwali celebration in the US Congress.