Indian American Aftab Pureval has won the Ohio District 1 Democratic party primary unopposed on Tuesday. He will face Republican incumbent Steve Chabot in the general election on November 6.
Pureval, the first Democrat to get elected as the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in more than 100 years, is considered a rising star in the party.
Chabot was first elected from the district in 1994, when the GOP captured the House for the first time in nearly half a century, under the leadership of Newt Gingrich. The Republican lost the seat in 2008, but won it back two years later.
The Cincinnati-area district, which borders with Kentucky and Indiana, leans Republican, according to the Cook Political Report, which gives the incumbent Republican a 5 point advantage.
However, many political observers believe if anyone can flip the seat, it is the 35-year-old Pureval.
Pureval’s father came to the United States from India. His mother had lived as a Tibetan refugee in India before she moved to the United States, along with her husband.
Pureval is also the first ever candidate of Tibetan origin to run for the US Congress and one of the more than 20 Indian Americans running for Congress this year.
Earlier, two other Democrats had also announced their candidacy from the district: Robert Barr and Laura Ann Weaver. But both withdrew from the race as the primary approached.
As the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, Pureval is credited with ending nepotism.
“He is the right kind of moderate that I think fits the district and can help move the political center of gravity back to the middle from its right-wing trajectory in Washington,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley had told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Born and brought up in southwest Ohio, Pureval went to public schools and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Ohio State University in 2005. He had served as a student body president at the university. During his tenure, he pushed the Ohio state legislature for increased funding for higher education.
After college, Pureval went to University of Cincinnati College of Law. There he worked in the Domestic Violence Clinic representing women who were victims of violence. Later he moved to Washington, D.C., to join White & Case LLP, one of the largest law firms in the country.
Four years later, he returned to Hamilton County where he worked as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Dept. of Justice.