SAN JOSE (Diya TV) — San Jose Councilman Ash Kalra appeared on Wednesday to pull ahead of opponent Madison Nguyen in their race for state assembly.

An upset win for Kalra over Nguyen, who was considered the heavy favorite headed into Election Day for California’s 27th Assembly District. Kalra won 52.4 % against Nguyen.

For Karla, it means he becomes the first Indian American ever elected to the California State Legislature.

“Its an incredible honor…when you look at the state of California, we should be proud of our diversity,” he said in response to that fact.

“It’s truly humbling, it’s hard to grasp even.”

Nguyen defeated Kalra during the June primary by more than 15 points, however, early returns Tuesday suggested the duo were in a much more tightly contested matchup. As more results rolled in late Tuesday, Kalra not only narrowed Nguyen’s initial lead of 130 votes, but took a suffocating lead of his own Wednesday by nearly 4,000 votes.

With tens of thousands of ballots remaining to be counted still, Nguyen Wednesday was not yet ready to concede the race, though she said she called Kalra to congratulate him “on a race well run” and acknowledged she faces long odds.

“It will be very difficult for us to make up the difference,” Nguyen said in a statement. “But out of the respect for the nearly forty thousand votes that have yet to be counted, I am not going to make any announcements at this time.”

The two were running for the seat of termed-out Assemblywoman Nora Campos.

Some political scientists in the Bay Area never saw Kalra’s victory coming.

“I was surprised,” Terry Christensen, a political science professor emeritus at San Jose State, told the Mercury News. “Given the margins she had in the primary election and the depths of her financial support through independent expenditures, I thought she’d win.”

Christensen hypothesized that Nguyen likely lost the support from her core constituency — Vietnamese voters —following a scandal involving naming an East San Jose shopping center. That political blunder led to a distrust from one faction of the Vietnamese community and a lawsuit against San Jose.

Kalra was up against several odds, given that there are 10 Vietnamese Channels that broadcast in San Jose and only one Indian local broadcaster (Diya TV), not to mention the predominantly a Vietnamese American district and a Vietnamese American opponent. When asked how he overcame those odds Kalra said to Diya TV,

“Regardless of our ethnic background, I think the Vietnamese community voted for me because of my policies and because I have always been there and I will always continue to be there.”

Kalra also benefited from a higher voter turnout in Tuesday’s election which also drew a large population of Latino voters and younger voters. But the 44-year-old credits his success to a strong ground game — he says volunteers knocked on “tens of thousands” of doors.


“We worked harder than anyone could possibly imagine,” Kalra said Wednesday. “We really made an effort to reach out to folks who normally don’t vote and we convinced them it was an important enough election for them to show up to vote.”

Speaking with Diya TV about his goals as Assemblymember, Kalra said his new administration’s first order of business will be to provide the necessary protection for those who might be at risk from the results of the presidential election.

“Given the result of the Presidential election, my first priority is going to be to protect the rights of the most vulnerable in our community,” he told Diya TV. “I think its really important that we protect and fight any harm to California residents.”