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The First Indian-American To Win Maryland Lt Governor Race: Who Is Aruna Miller?

Miller's historic win overcomes last-moment opposition courtesy accusations of her pandering to Hindu nationalists.

Published
Indian Diaspora
3 min read
The First Indian-American To Win Maryland Lt Governor Race: Who Is Aruna Miller?
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Aruna Miller made history after she became the first Indian-American politician to win the lieutenant governor race in Maryland, close to the United States capital, Washington DC.

The democratic candidate for Maryland lieutenant governor, along with governor candidate Wes Moore, won the gubernatorial race during the US midterm elections

Moore, who picked Miller as his running mate during the 2021 Democratic primaries, will become the state’s first black governor. 

A former executive director, 57-year-old Democrat Miller was endorsed by the Indian-American Impact, an organization that supports Indian-American representation at all levels of the US government, as well as other significant Indian-American groups and individuals. 

The lieutenant governor is the state’s highest ranking official after the Governor and assumes the position when the Governor is out of state or incapacitated. They also take over the top office if the Governor dies, resigns or is removed from office

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A Seasoned Politician from Andhra Pradesh

Miller was born in Hyderabad and immigrated to the United States when she was seven years old. A resident of Poughkeepsie, New York with two siblings and her parents, her father was employed at IBM as a mechanical engineer.

She became a US citizen in 2000, and spent four years on the House Ways and Means Committee and four years on the Appropriations Committee. She worked on issues such as paid family leave, transportation policy, domestic violence and STEM education.

Miller also has a BS degree from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in civil engineering. 

Miller’s political roots can be traced back to the 90s when she worked for local governments in California, Hawaii and Virginia, as a transportation engineer, moving to Maryland in 1990 where she worked with the Montgomery Council Department of Transportation.

Miller is also far from being a legislative novice, holding several positions throughout the course of her career. She represented District 15 in the Maryland House of Delegates between 2010 and 2018.

Subsequently, Miller ran for Congress in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, but lost out to fellow Democrat David Trone during the primaries. 

She was a member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, president of South Asian American Society, and is also recipient of the legislative champion award. 

“Ever since I came to this country in 1972, I’ve never stopped being excited for the promise of America. I will never stop fighting to make sure that promise is available to everyone. And this promise begins with a commitment to deliver a Maryland where we leave no one behind,”
Aruna Miller after winning Lieutenant Governor race in Maryland

After polling closed on Tuesday evening, Moore and Miller were declared elected against Republican challengers

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Bipartisan Support From Indian-Americans

Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had campaigned for Miller. But one of the most interesting notes from Miller’s victory is the bipartisan support she has received from Indian-Americans in Maryland, which saw top Trump and Republican backers express support for her.

Moreover, these supporters raised funds for her campaign. One of the most prominent endorsements were from Maximus Investment Group CEO Jasdip Singh Jasse, who was the Chairman of 'Sikhs for Trump 2020'.

In her victory statement, she said:

“Maryland, tonight you showed the nation what a small but mighty state can do when democracy is on the ballot. You chose unity over division, expanding rights over restricting rights, and hope over fear. You chose Wes Moore and me to be your next Governor and Lieutenant Governor.” 

Alleged Ties to Hindu Nationalists 

However, Miller’s path to a victorious election has been paved with several obstacles. Her win overcome last-moment opposition from people who accused her of pandering to Hindu nationalists. Miller unequivocally denied the charge.

In October 2022, The Intercept reported that miller and Moore were honored by people associated to Hindu nationalist political ideology. 

The widespread support from diaspora members gathered speed after a clarification was issued by the Moore-Miller campaign issued clarifications about their support for Muslim communities and religious freedom.

The campaign website said that the pair “had not taken one dollar” from Hindutva groups

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