CAGOP14: Sessions touts CA17’s Vanila Singh

Dr. Vanila Singh, a Republican challenger to Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District, had a big booster at this weekend’s California Republican Convention this weekend: House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions.

Pete SessionsSessions, R-Texas, helped host a small meet-and-greet between Singh and a group of Republican physicians, and then spoke highly of her after his news conference.

“She is a very interesting person who is deeply committed to helping families and communities to overcome the ravages of big government and high taxation,” said Sessions, who as former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee is no stranger to recruiting and shepherding new GOP candidates to seek House seats.

Singh’s parents came from India to America on Ronald Reagan’s promise of economic opportunity, Sessions said, and she has become not only a physician serving the community but also “a well-educated, thoughtful mom and wife who sees first-hand that big government is taking too many thing away.”

Singh said Sessions has been “unbelievable,” an invaluable mentor and adviser. “It gives me hope to know our leaders care about the folks around them and are willing to encourage and give their time.”

Honda, D-San Jose, is seeking an eighth term, and a challenge brought by fellow Democrat Ro Khanna – a former Obama administration official from Fremont – has been making national headlines for almost a year. Singh entered the race at the start of this year, and two more Republicans jumped in just before the March 7 filing deadline: Joel Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore, both of San Jose.

Vanila SinghAsked about those last-minute entries, who threaten to dilute the district’s already small GOP electorate, Singh replied, “I’m running my horserace.” She said she “most likely” will attend a League of Women Voters candidates’ forum on Saturday, May 3; Honda and Khanna already have committed to attend.

California GOP Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon of San Francisco said having three Indo-Americans in this race – Khanna, Singh and Rathore – is “a sign that the Indian American community has reached political maturity.”

But Dhillon said Rathore’s candidacy is “fishy” – someone formerly registered as a nonpartisan with a similar name (V. Singh Rathore and V. Singh) entering the race at the 11th hour. Though party bylaws prevent Dhillon from endorsing anyone when multiple Republicans are in the race, Singh is “a refreshing voice in our party … who shares the same concerns as the people in her community, and she has a lot to say.”

Dhillon also noted Singh placed ahead of Khanna in a recent poll commissioned by Honda’s liberal allied at Democracy for America, despite Khanna’s aggressive campaign over the past year. “He has certainly had his people reach out to Republican donors, Republican players.”

More from Singh, after the jump…

Singh said after dedicating her life to medicine, reaching the pinnacle of her career and having two children, she felt compelled to enter public life. “You can’t stand by – I believe people have to do things, get involved.”

That’s a lesson she learned from her parents – her father, a former Fremont planning commissioner, ran for city council about 10 years ago, and both her parents have been involved both in their temple and in Fremont’s Sister City Commission. Even knowing that politics can get ugly, her father encouraged her to become a candidate, she said.

“He said, ‘Go in 100 percent, no hesitation – this is what you were meant for,’” she said.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Guest

    The Republicans I’m talking to are saying Vanlandingham is a fine Republican candidate – very up on the issues, I expect you are going to see a real tug-of-war between Singh and Vanlandingham for Republican voters in the 17th district. Singh had the field to herself, but now you have a real dogfight going on here.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    The Repubs I talk to in CC County are unable to speak clearly due to ill-fitting dentures or age-related cognitive impairment.

  • JohnW

    That’s brutal!

  • Elwood

    I don’t understand why the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, League of Women Voters and other environmental organizations have not taken up the cause of this endangered species.

  • JohnW

    Because they favor letting old growth burn?
    Because they are for RENEWABLE energy?

    Says me of early baby boom vintage.