While all eyes are on the US presidential election, Indian Americans should watch a hotly contested congressional race in California, where a son of Sikh immigrants stands a good chance of becoming the youngest member of the House of Representatives.
Ricky Gill, a 25-year-old Republican who just graduated from law school at the University of California-Berkeley, wants to defeat the Democratic incumbent, Representative Jerry McNerney, in the new 9th Congressional District. If he wins, it would be his first full-time job, Democrats point out.
Despite Gill's youth and inexperience, political analysts rate the race a "tossup," though they give McNerney a slight edge.
Gill is neck-and-neck with McNerney because he has proven to be a prolific fundraiser and has strong backing from the national Republican Party, which sees him as an attractive candidate with a stellar future.
According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Gill has raised $2.5 million as of Sept 30, compared to incumbent's $2 million.
It's unusual for challengers to outraise incumbents in congressional races, but Gill, the son of Sikh physicians and farmers in Lodi, California, has tapped into the Indian-American network for campaign contributions in a big way.
Outside spending in the race - expenditures by groups aligned with Gill and McNerney but with no formal ties to either man - is where Gill emerged as the clear winner.
According to the Center for Responsive Government, a campaign-spending watchdog group, Republican groups have spent nearly $2.8 million to oppose the Democrat, mostly through negative television advertisements. The biggest spender - with $2.2 million in expenditures so far - has been the National Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives.
In contrast, McNerney has attracted just over $500,000 in outside spending on his behalf.
On his campaign web site, Gill says he was involved in managing his family's farming and liquor business, did educational consulting and served as the student representative on the California Board of Education.
In an October interview with the Stockton Record, he described his political philosophy this way: "I believe the government's role is to promote and protect individual freedom and economic opportunity for all our citizens. If I've learned anything from my parents' immigrant journey, it's that individuals can achieve great things if they work hard and play by the rules."
But McNerney and his fellow Democrats accuse Gill of being long on rhetoric and short on life and political experience.
In a web site it set up to defeat Gill, the California Democratic Party said, "He will surely play the part of the earnest outsider looking to do good but the only thing that's clear so far is that Gill is chomping at the bit to join the ranks of one of the most extreme Republican congresses."
A genteel race it is not in California's 9th Congressional District. And if Gill loses on Nov 6, he will have ample opportunity to seek a rematch in 2014.