Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria for US Senate 2004 Campaign
I have lived the American Dream. My parents came to this country with little money. Yet I graduated from Downers Grove North High, had the privilege of earning undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown, and an MBA from Stanford and developed several business ventures ranging from medical to technological to space exploration to wireless that have generated shareholder wealth and jobs.
Any success that I have achieved I owe to the opportunities and freedoms that America has given me. That's why I want to represent the people of Illinois in the U.S. Senate - to help them have the same opportunities I've had that they may have missed out on in the past.
I am honored to be here today. Choosing the right candidate to represent the Republican Party for the Senate will affect the fate of our party.
I am here today to invite you to understand who I am, what I stand for and why I feel I am a good candidate.
Why should a conservative vote for me? Because I believe in, and have benefited from the Conservative agenda. Free markets helped me create my businesses, tax relief put money in my pocket, Homeland Security kept me safe from terrorist attacks, and I strongly believe in the family values that have been instrumental in my personal and professional life.
What is America? America is a country that would allow a man as distinguished looking as myself to rise and become a leader because of my dedication and education.
It is natural that my appearance has invoked curiosity. Don’t let this turban and beard fool you. I am an American first and foremost. I was brought from India when I was eight months old, and I was raised in this tolerant and accepting country. I was raised to believe in the American Dream, and with hard work and diligence I managed to live the American Dream. My parents came to this country with a few dollars. Their son graduated from Downers Grove North High School 20 years ago and had the privilege of earning undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown, and an MBA from Stanford and now owns several business ventures ranging from medical to technological to space exploration that have generated a considerable amount of shareholder wealth and jobs. However, any success that I have achieved I owe to the opportunities and freedoms that America has given me. Now it’s my turn to give back to this nation that has endowed me with enormous personal growth. Because of my background, the issue of technology will be a major plank in my campaign platform.
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The 2004 U.S. Senate Campaign
For Chirinjeev, the key to the U.S. Senate is to win the primary election to be held in March, 2004. In the general election to be held in November, 2004, he feels that there may be a large number of crossover votes from the minority voters who are traditionally registered Democrats. By his analysis, if he wins the primaries, he will have a very good shot at winning the general election.
In May, Chirinjeev participated in a high powered Chicago Conservative Conference "Winning with Ideas" where nine Republican men spoke about their possible run for the U.S. Senate. This was Chirinjeev's first public appearance. His approval rating indicated to him that the election was "very winnable."
Chirinjeev has done well in public forums. He has also found considerable support from ethnic groups, from Brown University, from Chairs at major academic institutions and from the Republican Party. The Republican Party is especially excited about his candidacy, he says. In fact, the issue of beard and turban has opened up their interest. The Republican Party feels that Chirinjeev can broaden the party's base to include more young people and minorities. "But they also feel that I am an intelligent person who is well qualified, who is unique, genuine and has good ideas. A lot of people are excited about the race for the first time."
Running for public office is expensive. The campaign for the U.S. Senate, which requires covering an entire state, is an expensive venture. Chirinjeev says that it is very important for him to use some of his own personal finances for the campaign, but he is also counting on financial support from the Republican Party, from the South Asian, Hispanic and African American communities, the corporate communities and others. His goal is to raise at least two to three times the amount he puts in.
A good campaign will also require a good team. Chirinjeev is in the process of putting together a list of people to work on his campaign and he is looking at how to assign tasks: writing policies, forming strategies, fund-raising, media and advertising, organizing rallies. The most important task, he says, is defining the issues and forming implemental strategies. The campaign will be run as a team effort on the local level and the national level. Anyone interested in working on the campaign should get involved. It is not going to be an easy race, he says, but it will be a winnable race.
Voters generally just want their elected officials to improve their lives and they want to see someone who can get something done. But Chirinjeev realizes that his campaign strategy will have to include ways to educate the public about his identity. Chirinjeev often says, "I am an American, and, by the way, I wear a beard and turban." What people love about America, whether Catholic or Jewish or whatever religion, is the right to practice your own religion, he says. From his experiences, Chirinjeev has found that people want to understand the beard and turban. It makes them look deeper into my qualifications, he says. In public appearances, Chirinjeev openly acknowledges his 'unique appearance' to the crowd, putting them at ease with him immediately. Sikhs do not cut their hair or beards, he tells them, they wear a turban as a symbolic "crown of spirituality."
The Sikh community, he says, can also help him by continuing to educate the general public. Sikhs have shown a lot of support for his run for Senate. Many have called from abroad, as far away as Japan, to wish him well. But it will take more than well wishes to win this election. It will require votes. The Sikh community has historically not been very active in politics and voting, but Chirinjeev sees this as a problem in all communities. In general, people have become more apathetic about elections and voting. "I hope I can energize people and increase voter turnout, especially in our community." This is going to be a close election and it will probably be decided on a small number of votes, says Chirinjeev. It will be a state-wide election. It is important for Chirinjeev to get the vote out from every eligible voter to win the race.
Chirinjeev's campaign will take him around the state to meet and talk to the people of Illinois. This will definitely be a grassroots campaign.
Illinois Leader Speech- July, 2003
Dr. Kathuria on representing the Indian community
Like many Indians, my parents came to America to seek the American Dream and find opportunities for their children. I am an American, I am an Indian, and I am proud of my heritage. I hope that my campaign for the US Senate will help educate the American public about the important contributions of Indians Americans. Although India has over one billion people and is experiencing a technological renaissance, it is often overlooked in America.
In addition to representing all of Illinois, I will have the special responsibility as a minority to represent those without a voice.
Nearly a half century ago, Dalip Saund made history as the first Indian elected to the U.S. Congress. If an Indian can be elected to the House, why not the Senate? My campaign will be about breaking down barriers and addressing issues that the mainstream media has underreported.
Many Indians ask me why I am running as a Republican. While racism exists in all parties, it is not often reported that Republicans—the Party of Lincoln—have historically been the party that fought discrimination and worked to provide justice and social equality for minorities. In 1964, nearly 90% of Republican Senators voted to pass the landmark Civil Rights Act, but only 60% of Democrats did so. Illinois Republicans such as President Lincoln, Senator Everett Dirksen, and Governor Stratton were champions of minority empowerment. As Senator, I will make sure the Republican Party stays true to its roots as a champion of human rights and liberty.
Indian unity is an important issue. The fabric of India is similar to that of the US: multi- cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-racial. In India, as in the United States, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews live together and respect each other’s faiths. It is important that people live freely without fear of persecution or discrimination on the basis of their ethnicity or religion.
Since September 11th, many American minorities – Arabs, Muslims, and those perceived to be Arabs or Muslims such as Indians and Sikhs– have had to endure hate-based backlash attacks, work place and social discrimination. I am concerned with these issues and will support legislative initiates that enable all people to work and live without fear and discrimination.
I am against all hate crimes. Currently, there are federal laws in place that require local law enforcement to keep data on bias-related crimes but they are flawed and have loopholes which allow crime data to be filed away without being documented. I support correcting these laws so that accurate statistics can be recorded and hate-based activity accurately tracked and countered. I support enacting anti-hate crimes legislation such as the “End Racial Profiling Act” and the “Hate Crimes Act” which are currently under consideration. To ensure such legislation passes, we must elect Republicans and Democrats alike who support sensible laws and vote to enact them.
Another way to tackle the hate issues in America is through education. Many Americans have positive views of Indians they meet in person but others form their opinions through fictional stereotypes they may see on TV. Education about our similarities and differences is the best way to prevent hate crimes. I support education initiatives at the school and college levels that seek to create a positive climate of tolerance, understanding and acceptance. Electing someone like me of an Indian ethnicity also sends a strong message that people shouldn’t associate terrorist activities around someone’s appearance.
I am very sensitive to the issue of employment and workplace discrimination. We need to reach out to business leaders, and showcase the diverse cultures that have contributed to this great country of ours. We must highlight the great business role models we have in the minority communities. Through education and focusing on positive role models, we can impact work environments to reduce discrimination. Furthermore, I believe in the right of all people to practice their religion freely. I encourage businesses to create work environments that are respectful of people’s religions. I support legislation such as the “Workplace Religious Freedom Act” that requires employers to respect the religious practices of their workers.
It is also imperative that we work to improve the employment climate for minorities such as Sikhs and Indians. When Congressman Saund came of age in the 1920s, he couldn’t even practice farming on his own because of anti-immigrant sentiment, and had to purchase land in his wife’s name. We’ve come a long way since then, but we still have a long way to go. Many Americans are concerned today about the amount of technology jobs that are leaving the US and moving to India. We can implement some of the lessons we have learned in Illinois from the creation of tax-free zones to attract business investment. I support an aggressive plan to help Illinois be a business leader in the 21st century.
For the state of Illinois, I would work to link our small businesses and farmers into the international market. I would also encourage the development of high-tech industry in the state, using Illinois institutions such as IIT, University of Illinois and other technical academic powerhouses in concert with Chambers of Commerce to support the development of Illinois as a cutting-edge leader in the field of technology – to become a Technological Frontier. It’s also important we finally address immigration reform and find ways to create a safe, orderly, and well regulated flow of legal immigration in the U.S. so people can come here and benefit from the American economy. From an economic standpoint, it is much better to crack down on illegal immigration and increase the amount of legal immigration. From an economic standpoint, the government plan of cutting H1B visas is too drastic at this time.
Another issue an Indian-American Senator could bring a unique perspective is the war on terror—especially on reforms to better target terrorists without infringing on the rights of law-abiding Americans. We have to spread the message that the Indian community in the USA is very prosperous and a well-educated community. Because of the contributions of Indians, places in the United States like Silicon Valley exist today.
Finally, as Senator I would work to address human rights and champion freedom. In the 20th century, India has produced the world’s two great humanitarians - Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. When Mother Teresa died in Calcutta, all people equally mourned her, whether they were Hindus, Muslims, Bengalis or South Indians. As a U.S. Senator I will use my influence and work with the Indian government to resolve human rights issues. The approach being taken in India by the National Committee for Minorities may be a good centrist approach. I would also like to help resolve the Indian-Pakistan conflict. India and Pakistan are sovereign nations. I support the Peace processes made by each country to resolve the situation. I laud the actions that both the Pakistani and Indian government have taken in the War against Terrorism, and I commend Prime Minister Vajpayee’s leadership. India has become a model for entrepreneurship and prosperity in the 21st century, and for that, we can all be proud. Chirinjeev Kathuria
New York, July 13/04
Indian American may be in fray for House or Senate :
World News > New York, July 13, 2004: After facing a rout during the Republican primaries for the US Senate seat from Illinois, Indian American businessman Chirinjeev Kathuria may be back in the race because of a quirky set of circumstances.
For Kathuria, if it doesn't rain, it pours.
The physician turned serial entrepreneur, who barely received one percent of the Republican vote back in May primaries, has been offered the choice of running for the US House of Representatives from the 9th Congressional District by the Cook County Republican Chair Gary Skoien.
At the same time, Jack Ryan who won the Republican primaries stepped down because of divorce issues that came out in public, and the Illinois central committee of the Republican party is now considering three candidates including Kathuria, who ran in the primaries, to replace Ryan for the November polls.
Kathuria said he would jump at the chance of running for Senate, but that he was still considering whether he would run for Congress.
"They are looking at me as a possible compromise candidate for the Senate," Kathuria told IANS.
In some ways, a choice like him may be the only slim chance Republicans have facing a strong African American Democratic contender in November.
Meanwhile, Skoien, who contacted Kathuria a few weeks ago to agree to run for the House seat, said, "We have selected him. He ran an interesting race for the Senate, and I think he represents a new group in the party that we think are important. He ran a good race, and made a lot of friends.... and he has strong connections to that community."
Skoien indicated that Kathuria would be a good foil for the incumbent Democrat even if it is not going to be easy to displace her.
"Clearly it is a tough race, it always is when you are running against an incumbent. But there are some ethical issues facing the incumbent and she (Rep. Jan Schakowsky) represents a very extreme element of the Democratic party, one of the most Liberal members of the U.S. Congress," Skoien reasoned.
The hitch is that the Republican who decided to run from the 9th is yet to agree to withdraw.
"We are waiting to hear from him. Obviously, we would like to have somebody in place by mid-August." Kurt J. Eckhardt, 43, is Chicago's 48th Ward GOP committeeman who must agree to drop out before Kathuria can run.
As for Kathuria's credentials, Skoein said, "He's well educated, well spoken, successful in business, and has been active in Republcian politics. I think all of those things are important. Obviously, he is a very outspoken gentleman and it will be good for the country."
But Kathuria said he has not given an unqualified "yes" yet.
"If they do offer me the US Senate seat, I am definitely running. But for the House race, I am first going to see whether I have a lot of support from everywhere including Washington," he said.
He is planning to go to meet Republican bigwigs at the Capital some time next week.
"It's a swing seat in the Senate," Kathuria said indicating that the Republicans are very keen to win the seat to keep their slim majority in the upper house.
"They are not going to put a candidate who has no credentials. They want somebody who has he best chance of winning."
Kathuria made his case to the Illinois Republican Party in a power point presentation that showcased his achievements like valedictorian in 1983 from Downers Grove North High School in Illinois, earning undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University and an masters in business administration from Stanford University.
He made $55,000 investment in The X-Stream Networks, Inc, and became a director and major shareholder, helping pioneer the free Internet service provider concept. The X-Stream networks, Inc. was sold for $75 million in cash and stock and merged with LibertySurf.
He was instrumental in helping build MirCorp, the first company to privately launch and fund a manned space programme.
Apart from all this he has authored several technical medical papers.
All this makes him an attractive candidate to the 400,000 Asians living in Illinois and perhaps the Hispanic and African Americans as well.
Regarding the Senate seat, US House Speaker Republican Dennis Hastert, had wanted state Senator Steve Rauschenberger to fill the seat when Jack Ryan dropped out after winning the primaries.
But a few days ago, Rauschenberger made public that he had no intention of running for the US Senate.
The other primary contestants for the Senate seat that the Republican Party is considering apart from Kathuria, are dairy king Jim Oberweis, retired General John Borling.