Chivukula to Run for U.S. Congress From N.J. District 7
New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, 61, a Democrat, has announced his run for the U.S. Congress from the state’s newly redesigned District 7. He hopes to attract independents, Indian-Americans and other South Asians in the district that is currently represented by Rep. Leonard Lance, a Republican.
Chivukula is the only Indian-American in the New Jersey Assembly and has represented the 17th District, which covers Middlesex and Somerset counties, since 2002.
He has a long history in public office and is possibly the only chance the Democratic Party has to present a credible opponent against Lance.
The assemblyman does not live in District 7, and told Desi Talk that he would move there only on winning.
The district contains portions of Hunterdon, Somerset, Union and Middlesex counties. “The party came to me. I was not seeking this office (at this time). They asked me to run for this office,” Chivukula said. Over the years, however, he has expressed a desire to run for Congress.
He rejected speculation that the new district is even more Republican than before. “Even for the incumbent, some 40 to 45 percent of the district is new,” Chivukula noted, adding that there were many independents in the district.
And there are pockets of Indians and other South Asians in the district., such as in Bridgewater and Warren Townships and Watchung, all in Somerset County; and parts of Union County and Morris County, Chivukula said. Parts of Woodbridge Township and Edison are also within the newly redrawn district.
Chivukula is hoping to raise at least $1 million for the race, he said. Luckily, he said, he will not have to contend with the June primary because he calculates he will be the only Democratic candidate on the ballot as a party nominee, unless there is a surprise bid.
He said he will file his nomination papers April 2, the deadline for filing.
Meanwhile, Lance is set to face off against businessman David Larsen in the Republican primary.
“Lance has a tough fight in the primary against a Tea Party candidate,” Chivukula said.
He criticized his opponent for going more and more to the right to satisfy that wing of the party, for instance, on immigration where he is against amnesty, and on wanting to roll back the Healthcare Affordability Act, or Obamacare as the Republicans have named it.
If Chivukula loses the congressional race, he continues as an assemblyman.