South Asian Candidates Aim to Grow Congress’s “Samosa Caucus”

North Carolina’s Nida Allam and California’s Shrina Kurani are among a new generation of politicos aiming to make history in this year’s midterm elections.

Nidha Allam
Nida Allam (Nida Allam)

Nirvi Shah


January 7, 2022


7 min

In 2020, Nida Allam was part of a wave of South Asian candidates running for office at the local, state, and federal level — and winning their races. Allam nabbed a seat on the Durham County Board of Commissioners and became the first Muslim woman to win elected office in the state that year. Before that, she was the first Muslim woman to serve on the board of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

She hopes to make history again in this year’s midterm elections and, though it is still early, she appears to have a serious shot. For one, Allam is running in an open seat, North Carolina’s 6th district — which now includes Durham, Chapel Hill, and other parts of the Research Triangle — held by a Democrat for decades. Nine candidates are jockeying for the spot so far, including five other Democrats and three Republicans, including Mahesh “Max” Ganorkar. Second, her campaign already has national attention and has raised $300,000. If she wins, Allam, 28, would become the first South Asian elected to Congress from the South. 

Groups that advocate for South Asian candidates are already watching Allam’s race closely. In addition to Allam, “there are a number of strong candidates or potential candidates [for Congress], including state Senator Kesha Ram in Vermont, and Shrina Kurani in California, who make 2022 a promising year for South Asian representation — and particularly for South Asian women — in Congress,” said Neil Makhija, executive director of IMPACT. 

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