“It would be significant because South Asians have been politically invisible when it comes to much of California politics in the Southland,” said Gautam Dutta, executive director of the Asian American Action Fund. “If you look in Northern California, you’ve had a few people elected, but again you’ve never had anyone of South Asian origin elected to the statehouse.”
Dalip Singh Saund, who became the first Asian American member of Congress when he was elected in 1956, was the only Californian of South Asian origin elected to office higher than city or county levels.
But while Ramani could make history if elected, his chances are slim considering the makeup of the district, which includes much of Glendale, Burbank and parts of Los Angeles, experts say.
About 47% of district voters are registered Democrats, with 25% Republicans and 23% who declined to state a party affiliation.
The district also voted heavily democratic in 2008 elections, with 70% supporting Barack Obama and 68% backing Paul Krekorian, who previously occupied the Assembly seat before vacating it to take a position on the Los Angeles City Council.
“It’s impossible,” Mona Field, professor emeritus of political science at Glendale Community College, said of a Republican’s chances of winning in the district.
Even if every registered Republican in the district voted, along with half of the registered Democrats, the Republican candidate would lose, Field said.
But contentious Republican primaries for governor and Senate could push more of the party’s voters to the polls if the election moves forward from the April 13 primary to a June 8 runoff, as is expected, experts say.