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Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Rise of Asian Americans in the Maryland General Assembly


Dave Wang

Phone: (410) 608-9481

Cezar Lopez


*ANNAPOLIS, MD (October 27, 2010)*— The Maryland Democratic Party supports a diverse slate of candidates that reflects the State's growing population. Asian American Democrats in Maryland are running for office in record numbers this election cycle. Candidates are: Delegate Kumar Barve, Delegate Susan Lee, Delegate Kriselda Valderrama, Aruna Miller (District 15), Sam Arora (District 19), and Clarence Lam (Howard County Central Committee).

Often called the "Dean" of Indian-American legislators by the national media, Delegate Kumar Barve has blazed a trail for public officials that followed him. First elected in 1990, Barve has risen to the rank of Majority Leader in the Maryland House of Delegates and is the longest-serving elected official of Indian origin. Two new candidates this year are Aruna Miller and Sam Arora, both Indian-Americans, who won their primaries. They can create history if Maryland will have the only state legislature with three Indian-Americans. Arora and Miller are well positioned in the general election.

"I could not be more proud of both of these candidates — they are highly qualified, extremely diligent, very hardworking, and boy, did they run some great campaigns!" said Barve in an article from India Abroad.

Another trailblazer seeking reelection this year is Delegate Susan Lee, the first Asian American woman to be elected to the Maryland General Assembly. She is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Chair of the Montgomery County Delegation's County Affairs Committee and a member of Women Legislators of Maryland. She was appointed by the Speaker of the House as Deputy Majority Whip of the Maryland House of Delegates. As a member of the House of Delegates since 2002, Lee has introduced and cosponsored legislation protecting consumers, addressing hate crimes, improving health care, and supporting immigrants.

Delegate Kriselda Valderrama has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2007. She serves on the House Judiciary Committee where she is a member of the juvenile law subcommittee. She is also the Chair of the Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Maryland. Valderrama has been an advocate for the residents of the 26th Legislative District in Prince George's County and plans to continue that role in the next session of the Maryland General Assembly.

AAPI Leadership Council

The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Leadership Council is one of several Councils initiated by the Maryland Democratic Party to celebrate the strength of diversity in the State. The Council is dedicated to furthering the interests of the AAPI community in Maryland through political organization. It is a coalition of almost every ethnic group within the AAPI community that lives in Maryland.

The Council's meetings have been attended by over 200 community and political leaders, and is led by a team of dedicated Chairs: Bel Leong-Hong (External), Ngoc Chu (Internal), Jane Nishida (Membership Chair), Ram Mukunda (Communications), Ajay Gupta (Finance), Minh Le (Finance), Helen He (Grassroots), Delegate Kriselda Valderrama (Honorary), Delegate Kumar Barve (Honorary), and Delegate Susan Lee (Honorary).

Yet, Robert Ehrlich, the Republican Party's candidate for governor in Maryland, unapologetically terms multiculturalism as "bunk."[1] Ehrlich also recently said, "I'm going to track down those 'new Americans' — they should not be in polls."[2]

For more information about the Maryland Democratic Party's Diversity Leadership Council, please visit:


Paid for by the Maryland Democratic Party, Ngoc Chu, Treasurer

[1] "Once you get into this multicultural crap, this bunk, that some folks are teaching in our college campuses and other places, you run into a problem," Ehrlich, a Republican, said during an appearance on WBAL radio in 2004. "There is no such thing as a multicultural society that can sustain itself, in my view, and I think history teaches us this lesson." The Baltimore Sun, 5/9/2004. Available online at,0,3654105.story


AAPI Leadership Council
Maryland Democratic Party

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