SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Diya TV) — Last month, San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra became the first Indian American in California history to be elected to the state legislature after his defeat of opponent Madison Nguyen in the hotly contested race for the state’s 27th Assembly District.

Monday, Kalra was officially sworn in when the new legislative session began.

“To be able to stand their and take the oath, with my father sitting next to me, I was definitely overrun with emotions just thinking about his journey and how it led to this moment,” Kalra told Diya TV after his inauguration.

Kalra and Nguyen, both Democrats, clashed in the most expensive and closely watched contests in one of a handful of legislative districts, this seat belonging to outgoing Assemblywoman Nora Campos.

Business groups seeking to elect friendly members to the state Legislature had hoped Nguyen would join the ranks of business-aligned moderate Democrats if elected. Independent expenditure committees backed by real estate interests and charter school advocates spent more than $2.8 million to support Nguyen in the general election alone, while labor groups spent more than $2 million to boost Kalra.

Total independent expenditures in this race exceeded $7.5 million for the year.

Nguyen was a heavy favorite for the seat, something Kalra discussed during his interview with Diya TV.

“The popular belief was that I didn’t have a shot of winning this at all,” he said. “But I worked hard, my team worked hard, my volunteers worked hard, day in and day out. We didn’t worry about Election Day, we didn’t worry about what was going to happen, we just said, ‘what do we have to do to make sure people hear our message’ with all that money coming against us, how do we get our message across one voter at a time.”

Some political observers didn’t see Kalra’s win coming.

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

Ben Field, executive officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, which backed Kalra, said it was important for organized labor to maintain Campos’ seat to represent East San Jose residents “who have been left behind in this economy.”