Even as Maine's Democrat senatorial candidate is giving a tough fight to the incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins in the United States, the Indian-origin Democrat and current Speaker of the Maine State Assembly Sara Gideon is making news in the US as well as India.
Gideon was recently endorsed by former two-time US President Barack Obama as the senatorial candidate for Maine.
The endorsement was big news as Maine is often considered one of the most important and high-profile Senate races ahead of the Presidential elections in November this year.
But who is Sara Gideon?
48-year-old Gideon was born to an Indian immigrant father and a second-generation Armenian mother in Rhode Island, US. Gideon's father immigrated from India and worked as a pediatrician in Rhode Island, where Gideon, the youngest of four children, grew up. She moved to Maine after meeting her husband Ben Gideon, a personal injury trial lawyer.
After finishing her higher education from the George Washington University, Gideon served as an intern for US Senator Claiborne Pell. she later moved to Maine where she built the rest of her political career.
Her senatorial campaign has focused on "putting Maine first" as she emphasizes the need for politicians to focus on those they represent while working for larger national interests. Due to her impetus on improving the lives of working-class families in Maine, Gideon enjoys the support of most of the labour unions in the region, including ones that had previously supported her opponent Collins.
Gideon has attracted the attention of the all of the Democrat party across the US and has managed to pull off an impressive donation of USD 23 million to run her campaign against Collins, setting a new record in Maine.
The Jewish connect
Gideon is also popular among the Jewish community in Maine which is numbered at 10,000-15,000, many of show an affinity to her due to her marriage to Jewish advocate Benjamin Gideon. But it might be more than that. Analysts feel that Gideon's centrist take on the question of Israel's policies and geopolitics might also make her popular among the Jews across the country. Considering that a win for Gideon would bring the Democrats a step closer to wresting Senate from the Republicans, her victory might play into the larger benefit of several sections of Jews and Jewish PACs that are more inclined to support the Democrats under Donald Trump's polarised regime.
Her liberal views on issues like abortion, immigration, and social safety net - issues that Liberal Jews endorse - also make her ideal for the Jewish vote.
The Desi Factor
After entrepreneur Rik Mehta, she is the second Indian-American to have won a Senate primary race this election season. Both Ms Gideon and Mr Mehta are the first Indian-American to win the primaries in their respective states.
If elected in November, she will be the second Indian American women to be elected to the US Senate. Kamala Harris from California is the first Indian origin Senator to be elected to the US Senate.
So grateful to have my sons Julian and Alek helping get out the vote this weekend! Join our family in making calls before the #MESen primary on Tuesday—sign up here: https://t.co/9HyE1nqa5F pic.twitter.com/fnRieT7k13
— Sara Gideon (@SaraGideon) July 12, 2020
The news brought cheer on social media with many Indian-Americans expressing delight at Gideon's prospects.
— Rashmee Roshan Lall (@rashmeerl) June 26, 2019
If Sara Gideon wins, there will be two half-Indian Democratic women serving in the U.S. Senate.
— Krishan Patel (@IAmKrishanPatel) June 15, 2019
If Maine does the right things, we can have one whole Indian senator between Sara Gideon and Kamala Harris https://t.co/vlVnHncAmI
— Vinny Venkat (@venkatinthehat) July 15, 2020
In her Twitter bio, Gideon describes herself first as a 'Mom' and then a politician. The international relations graduate has two sons with whom she shares a warm relationship with. She often shares images of the sons - Julian and Alek - helping her out with the campaign by making phone calls to locals to seek support for their mom.
A supporter of women's rights, Gideon's campaign promises to focus on women's healthcare and reproductive rights.
(With inputs from PTI)