Vanila Singh

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Let’s first get this out of the way. Republican 17th Congressional District candidate Vanila Singh is not named after the mellow spice. Instead, her sweet name roughly translates as mother earth in Sanskrit, she said. “I paid my dues with that name. I better make use of it,” she joked at the Republican state convention last weekend in Burlingame.

Singh is a first-time candidate in one of the nation’s featured House races this fall, yet her poise likely derived from her duties as a doctor and professor at Stanford attracted the eye of Texas Rep. Pete Session who interrupted our discussion to gush over Singh in that charming yet smarmy way only a Texan can get away with. Sessions said he and his wife and gotten to know Singh and her husband, also a physician. Like another famous Republican from Texas, Sessions seemed to have looked into the soul of Singh and found promise.

Her race also pits Democratic Rep. Mike Honda against the well-financed Ro Khanna. Somehow Singh hopes to eek out a place in June’s top-two primary, likely at the expense of Khanna, another young Indian American. Singh says she will rely on first stoking the district’s conservative voters. However, the addition of two Republicans in the race just before the filing deadline may fracture conservative support. Some Singh supporters loudly suspect the newest Republican Indo American, Vinesh Singh Rathore, is actually a Khanna associate and plant recruited to further neutralize Singh. Polling last month by Democracy for America, a Honda supporter, indicated Singh had somewhat eroded Khanna’s support among moderates and conservatives. She declined to speculate on the rumor about her opponents.

As a medical doctor, Singh’s expertise at first glance appears in line with some Republican House candidate’s best hand—Obamacare. However, she said flatly, Obamacare should not be repealed, but improved upon. Although the more moderate stance by Republican is often to say “tweak,” but insinuate wholesale changes to Obamacare, Singh did not shade her comments. Spoken like a true doctor, when it comes to health care, first do no harm.