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.
“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.
Asked 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.