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US: Tulsi Gabbard leads in Hawaii primary poll


Updated: August 7, 2012, 7:43 AM IST
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US: Tulsi Gabbard leads in Hawaii primary poll
She has brightened her prospects for being elected as the first Hindu American to the US House of Representatives.

Washington: With a massive lead of 20 points over her nearest rival, Tulsi Gabbard has brightened her prospects for being elected as the first Hindu American to the US House of Representatives.

"Gabbard is on the verge of completing an epic out-of-nowhere comeback to topple Mufi Hannemann and become the Democratic Party nominee for Hawaii's vacant seat in Congress," the local Honolulu Civil Beat reported on Monday as it released the results of the latest poll numbers.

The Democratic primary is slated for August 11.

The winner of this primary is expected to finally win the November Congressional elections; as the seat is a strong Democratic party.

Dalip Singh Saund, the first Indian American elected to the House of Representatives in 1950s was a Sikh, while Bobby Jindal the second Indian American to make it to the House of Representatives had converted to Christianity.

"I can feel the momentum, we're surging, but it's still a very close race, so every single vote counts.

"The reason for our surge is simple: people are tired as politics as usual, they want fresh leadership and someone who will fight for them, the middle class," Gabbard told PTI ahead of the elections.

"The 31-year-old first-term Honolulu City Council member has opened up a decisive 49 per cent to 29 per cent lead over the more experienced Hannemann with many early votes already cast and the August 11 primary just days away, according to The Civil Beat Poll," the daily newspaper said.

"Gabbard's 20-point advantage is a shocker, but she had been making significant strides in fundraising and has used that money along with some major help from mainland political action committees to maintain a near-constant presence on the airwaves," it said.

Gabbard has also outraised her rival.

From the beginning of April through July, Gabbard raised $421,000 to Hannemann's $312,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Several other groups too have been advertising on behalf of Gabbard.

"In all, that's more than a half-million dollars pumping up Gabbard's campaign versus just $18,000 for Hannemann from the University of Hawaii faculty union," the newspaper said.

Proud of her Hindu religion, she is not Indian or of Indian heritage.

Her father Mike Gabbard, is currently Hawaii State Senator and mother Carol Porter Gabbard is a educator and business owner.

Currently a Company Commander with the Hawaii Army National Guard, who has volunteered to serve on two deployments to the Middle East, Gabbard served as Hawaii's youngest state representative in 2002 and is the youngest woman in the USA to be elected into such a position.

Having never visited India so far, she says she is looking to make her first trip to India as an elected member of the House of Representatives.

"As a Vaishnava, I especially look forward to visiting the holy sites of Vrindavan," she said.

According to her bio provided by her campaign, Tulsi's spiritual lineage is the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya.

Notably Hawaii is comprised of a majority of Christians with a significant number of Buddhists (10-15 per cent of the population).

The number of Hindus living in Hawai i is relatively small, with only two Hindu temples in the entire state, the Iskcon Temple on Oahu and the Aadheenam Temple on Kauai.

Her religion, Tulsi said is not an issue for the election, neither it has been a negative factor in her electoral campaign, she noted.

Tulsi was born in 1981 in Leloaloa, American Samoa, the fourth of five children born to a Hindu mother and a Christian (Catholic) father.

At the age of two, the family moved to Hawaii, the 50th state of the US, also known as the "Aloha State"; which is also the birth place of the US President, Barack Obama.

First Published: August 7, 2012, 7:43 AM IST
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