Indian American Democrat Aftab Pureval running for Cincinnati mayor

Aftab Pureval
Aftab Pureval; photo credit:

Pureval ran a tough congressional race against an 11-term incumbent in 2018.

Indian American Democrat Aftab Pureval, who came within a few percentage points of unseating an 11-term incumbent from Ohio’s 1st congressional district two years ago, has announced his candidacy for the mayor of Cincinnati.

“It’s been a challenging week after a very difficult year,” he tweeted on Thursday. “Our country is at a critical moment, and our city is too. And that’s why I’m so excited to announce my candidacy to be Cincinnati’s next mayor!”

In another tweet, the 38-year-old wrote: “Cincinnati has always been my home. When Bodhi [his 1-year-old son] came along, I started to see it as something much bigger. This campaign isn’t about any one person. It’s about us, about who we want to be to each other & the kind of future we can build together.”

Pureval, son of an Indian father and Tibetan mom, currently serves as the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, the first Democrat to serve in that position in more than a century. Cincinnati, the third-largest city in Ohio, is the seat of Hamilton County government.

READ: Indian American Democrat Aftab Pureval wins Ohio District 1 primary unopposed (May 10, 2018)

The current Cincinnati mayor John Cranley, who has been in office since December 2013, is term-limited and cannot run again.

According to local media reports, Pureval is expected to face a crowded field of mayoral contenders that includes a number of city council members, a former congressman and several prominent Democrats.

When he ran against Rep. Steve Chabot, who first won from the district in 1988, Pureval was the first candidate of Tibetan origin to run for Congress. He lost narrowly in the race.

His hometown newspaper The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Pureval had considered a rematch against Chabot in 2020, but sat the race out. Instead, he sought and won a second term as clerk of courts by securing more than 57 percent of the votes.

A rising start within the state Democratic Party, he is even talked of as a potential challenger to GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who is seeking reelection in 2022.

Asked why is running for mayor now, Pureval told the paper: “When you look across the country, it’s the mayors who are leading the way … on climate change, on guns. The opportunity to dig into those issues and move us forward is intriguing to me, which is why I am all-in on the race.”

“I’m blown away by all the support we’ve received since announcing our campaign for mayor. And now it’s time to get to work! We need volunteers to join our team & circulate petition signatures — fill out this form to get started. We’ll even come you!” Pureval tweeted.

READ: Indian American Aftab Pureval running from Ohio’s first congressional district (February 19, 2018)

Though it has a population of only 300,000, Cincinnati is an iconic Midwestern city, boasting three major sports teams, Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and FC Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati metropolitan area, home to nearly 2.2 million people, is the 29th largest in the country.

Pureval, who was born and raised in southwest Ohio, earned his undergraduate degree in political science from the Ohio State University, where he served as a student body president. Later, he did his law degree from University of Cincinnati College of Law.

He worked for White & Case LLP, a large Washington law firm, before returning to Hamilton County to serve as a Special Assistant US Attorney for the Department of Justice.

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