Krystle Kaul, a Kashmiri-descent national security expert is sprinting for the US Congressional run as she amassed $567,000 in campaign funds from Virginia. She surpassed the incumbent Jennifer Wexton's $538,000, providing a tough competition. The Democrat shared the news with the Press Trust of India, saying, "I'm leading the pack. I have $567,000. They said I couldn't surpass 500K, which was the goal, and I did it." Kaul is a defence strategist at the Pentagon and is now focusing on education, healthcare and public safety, especially for Indian-American women and girls like herself.
Kaul will now face the primary on June 18, which will decide her fate for the Congressional elections expected to happen in November 2024. Kaul is the first Kashmiri and second Indian-native candidate running for Congress district this year. Fellow Democrat Susheela Jayapal is running from Oregon's District 3. Jayapal collected more than $100,000 in the first 72 hours of her campaign in November.
Who Is Krystle Kaul?
Kaul is of Indian Kashmiri descent and is running for Congress from Virginia’s 10th District in the Democratic primary to inspire the next generation of young Indian-American girls. She has over 20 years of experience in the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community.
A national leader in the defence and intelligence community, she served as a Director (GS-15) of the Defence Threat Reduction Agency at the Department of Defence, the Director of Strategic Communications of the US Air Force and NATO for General Dynamics Information Technology, and as an Intelligence Political-Military Expert at US Central Command.
She told the Press Trust of India that her campaign is driven by a passion for public service, a commitment to ensuring the safety and security of our nation, and a desire to shape a better future for her constituents and the country. Kaul told the PTI, "We have a lot of small business owners and just making healthcare more affordable and more accessible. So from prescription drugs to seeing specialists, that is something that is a concern. And the third is public safety, making sure we have safe neighbourhoods, safe schools, safe communities."
Her passion for national security was drawn from hearing about the conflicts and tensions in her father's homeland, Kashmir. "I was very interested in learning more about Kashmir. I made it a point to focus my studies on understanding the conflict there," she said, adding that her father came to the US at 26 years old and told her stories about the turmoil in Kashmir. Her mother, a Punjabi from Delhi, migrated at the age of seven.
Fluent in eight languages, including Hindi, Punjabi, Dari, Urdu and Arabic, Kaul is the first Kashmiri-origin person to ever run for Congress. Kaul, who has travelled to more than 70 countries, was born and raised in Long Island, New York. She shifted to Washington DC when she was 17 for college. She graduated with a B A from American University, MAs from Brown University and Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), and has a PhD in Political Science in progress at Brown University.
Although Susheela Jayapal joined politics only a few years ago, she has garnered significant support from the people of Oregon, making her the first Indian-American woman to win an elected county office in Oregon. She was elected to represent District 2 on the county board in 2019 and won a reelection campaign last year. She is contesting for Oregon's District 3 now.
Susheela Jayapal is three years older than her sister, Pramila Jayapal, who was elected in 2016 to represent the Seattle area in the House of Representatives. Jayapal was born in Chennai, India, and moved to the USA at the age of 16 for college. She graduated at age 20 and worked as a financial analyst for Goldman Sachs before earning a law degree. After working as a corporate lawyer in firms like Adidas America, Jayapal made the switch to nonprofit work in the Portland area. She has lived in Portland for nearly three decades.
In early November, Jayapal announced her candidacy for the upcoming Congressional District elections, soon after Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a fellow progressive Oregonian, announced his retirement. Jayapal said in an interview with OPB, "I truly believe this is a pivotal time for the district, for the state, for the country in so many different ways... We came through the pandemic, and where we have landed is in a place where there is more divisiveness than before. At the same time, we’ve got these challenges here locally where we need federal action and federal help.”
In the past year, Jayapal has focused on the county's nonprofit staffing issues which were leading to a struggle to distribute tax dollars to homeless prevention programs. Most recently, Jayapal called for a ban on the use of leaded diesel In Portland's International Raceway. If elected to Congress, Jayapal said she’d also want to focus on gun control, access to abortion, LGBTQ+ civil rights and combating climate change. Jayapal has no clear competitors in the race for the 3rd Congressional District yet.