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Political Note #277   Sri Preston Kulkari TX CD 22

2020                          General Election

(This note is business as usual.  While the country attempts to prepare for a dangerous disease, we also need to prepare for the election in November. This Note is part of the preparation for the election.).

Texas’s 22nd Congressional District looks odd. It’s not unusual for a congressional district to look odd. But, it does look odd. On the left, a profile of a face. A big, rectangular nose. A noticeable mouth. Hair or some kind of headdress flowing behind. The tip of that big nose is touching the tail of a small dog in profile. The small dog, from the look of the face, is an aerdale.

The head consists of a good part of Houston’s southeastern metropolitan area. The northern border of the district (the dog’s back) is the southernmost part of Houston’s ring road.

The 22nd Congressional District has been Republican for a long time. Ron Paul, in a special election to replace the Democratic Congressman appointed by Gerald Ford to the US Maritime Commission, was the district’s first Republican. He was elected in 1976. Ron Paul lost in the general, then won in 1978. Interrupted only for a single two year term, Republicans have represented Texas’s 22nd Congressional District ever since. Pete Olson, initially elected in 2008, is retiring.

These days, Texas’s 22nd Congressional District does not look Republican. It is majority minority — 40% white, 25% Hispanic, 20% Asian, 15% black. Majority minority.

Is the district ripe to elect a Democrat? In 2018, running against Pete Olson, Sri Preston Kulkarni lost the election by 5 points, by 14,000 votes. Will it make a difference in 2020 that the incumbent retired? Will this changing district have changed enough so a Democrat can win?

Does it make a difference that one of the candidates is a distant relative of Sam Houston, the first President of Texas? What if he is a graduate from a Houston public school and the University of Texas?

We don’t know which Republican will win the runoff and be the candidate. Either a county sheriff or a big donor. In the Republican primary, the sheriff won 40% of the vote. The big donor won 20%. Sri Preston Kulkari is Sam Houston’s relative. On his mother’s side. Sri Preston Kulkari’s father taught at Rice University in Houston.  He went to high school in Houston, the University of Texas, and then, after a career in the Foreign Service, to the Kennedy School at Harvard.

Sri Preston Kulkari’s did not grow up a Texan. She grew up in West Virginia, part of the energy industry. Sri Preston Kulkari was born in Louisiana, where his mother worked in the oil industry, work she continued when she and her husband moved to Houston.

And Sri Preston Kulkari? He is no goody two-shoes. At age 18, he was arrested for having a smidge of cocaine on his person. He was no goody-two shoes as a diplomat, either. His work is national security. His expertise is communications.

Sri Preston Kulkari worked on tough problems as a diplomat and sought out tough problems when he was no longer a diplomat. While getting his degree in public Administration after he left the Foreign Service, he ran events with Palestinians and Israelis to create some mutual understanding. He did the same with American liberals and conservatives. He created a five step process that elicited listening and careful conversation.

Sri Preston Kuikari was in the Foreign Service for fifteen years, posted to Taiwan, Iraq, Russia, and Israel. Back in the US, he added Ukraine to his portfolio. Specializing in communication, he is fluent in several languages – English, Hebrew, Hindii, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Spanish. His familiarity with language and, of course, his own South Asian heritage, has made it easier to campaign in this diverse congressional district. He has published campaign literature in thirteen languages.

Sri Preston Kulkari was an innovative foreign service officer. In Moscow, overseeing millions, he found ways to save hundreds of thousands of dollars. In Iraq, he trained local journalists and conducted conferences intended to get members of diverse ethnic groups to work together. In Israel, he oversaw joint Jordanian-Israeli economic ventures and joint missions to Israelis and Palestinians. He was an outstanding diplomat.

Back in the US, Sri Preston Kulkari was the communication director for the Ukraine Task Force and Director of Regional Training and Strategy for the international information bureau. His transition to Harvard included a year in Senator Gillibrand’s office providing foreign policy advice, getting involved in domestic issues as well.

Once in politics, Sri Preston Kulkari was an innovative campaigner. He raised a lot of money – more than a million dollars for this campaign so far. As much as Pierce Bush raised in his losing campaign for the Republican nomination for this district, triple the $300,000 raised by the Republican first place finisher, but only one-third the $3 million raised by the Republican second place finisher.

Money isn’t everything.  Sri Preston Kulkari was particularly successful in getting the conservative South Asians in the district to vote. He could engage with them and use his understanding of the tenets of the various South Asian religions to generate conversations that led to them voting. For him, presumably. In 2018 and again in 2020.

Resources for this campaign are a big deal. Whichever Republican wins the Republican run-off and becomes their nominee will have a lot of resources to compete. Help Sri Preston Kulkari compete. Contribute to his campaign. Contribute to his victory. Help Texas change.

Below are Congressional seats Democrats are trying to flip from incumbent Republicans. The ones with asterisks ran in 2018* In 2018, Democrats flipped 40 Republican seats in the House. Let’s flip 20 more.



Arizona 06                       Hiral Tipirneni* to beat incumbent David Schweikert

California 50                   Ammar Campa-Hajjar* to win this now open Rep seat

Florida 16                         Margaret Good to beat incumbent Vern Buchanan

Illinois 13                         Betsy D Londrigen* to beat incumbent Rodney Davis

Indiana 05                       Christina Hale to win this open Republican seat

Iowa 04                            JD Scholten* to beat incumbent Steve King

Kansas 02                        Michelle De La Isla to beat incumbent Steve Watkins

Michigan 06                     Jon Hoadley to beat incumbent Fred Upton

Minnesota 01                   Dan Feehan* to beat incumbent Jim Hagedorn

Missouri 02                     Jill Schupp to beat incumbent Ann Wagner

New York 02                    Jackie Gordon to win this open Republican seat

New York 21                   Tedra Cobb* to beat incumbent Elise Stefanic

Ohio 04                           Mike Larsen to beat incumbent Jim Jordan

Pennsylvania 10             Eugene DePasquale to beat incumbent Scott Perry

Texas 21                          Wendy Davis to beat incumbent Chip Roy

Texas 22                          Sri Preston Kalkuri to win this open Republican seat

Texas 23                          Gina Ortiz Jones* to win this open Republican seat

Washington 03               Carolyn Long* to beat incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler