Indian American Rik Mehta to challenge Frank Pallone in New Jersey

Rikin Mehta
Rikin Mehta

Mehta lost 2020 Senate race to Democrat Cory Booker, but received more votes than any other Republican candidate in history

Indian American Republican politician Rik Mehta, who made an unsuccessful bid for US Senate against Democrat Cory Booker in 2020, now plans to challenge Democrat incumbent Frank Pallone in New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District.

Mehta, 43, who then made history as the first Indian American candidate to win a statewide nomination for either party, previously planned to run against Democrat Tom Malinowski in District 7.

Mehta who has been living in Chester, Morris County announced Monday he is relocating to Iselin in Middlesex County, according to insidernj.com. Mehta’s decision to switch districts follows publication of new congressional map last month.

“Out of touch politicians who think the Bill of Rights is above their pay grade don’t understand what it’s like to lose a business,” Mehta, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur, stated.

“My father came to this country with only $100 in his pocket. We didn’t have much, but we found the American Dream,” he said. “It’s time that our communities and small businesses, from Oak Tree Road to Ocean Avenue, get the right representation in Washington.”

“I’m ready to be the voice for the people and work to create economic freedom, make effective testing and treatment options to Covid available, bring medical innovation and manufacturing back to New Jersey, stand up for small business owners and protect our beautiful shores and beaches,” Mehta said.

“For over 30 years, Rep. Pallone built his career off the backs of our proud immigrant communities while turning his back on our small businesses when they needed him the most. He’s not one of us and I plan to retire him in November”.

READ: Indian Americans make a splash in yet another election cycle (November 5, 2020)

A former US Food and Drug Administration official, Mehta lost to Booker by 724,126 votes, 57%-41%, according to New Jersey Globe. Record voter turnout in the 2020 general election caused Booker to become the highest vote-getter for statewide office in New Jersey history.

At the same time, Mehta received more votes than any other Republican statewide candidate in history after breaking a record set by US Senator Clifford P. Case in 1972.

He received 1,817,052 in his race against Booker, a vote total that outperformed Republican statewide victors like former governors Chris Christie, Christine Todd Whitman, and Thomas H. Kean.

Mehta is seeking to become the first South Asian American to win a House seat in New Jersey, in a district that has the state’s largest percentage of Asian American voters, the Globe noted.

In the peak of the pandemic, Mehta championed his slogan “Save Small Business” which became a rallying cry across the state and the nation in 2020 amidst the lockdowns pushed by Democrat Governor Phil Murphy, insidernj.com reported.

RELATED: Two Indian Americans locked in New Jersey Republican primary (July 13, 2020)

Murphy and Mehta traded jabs after Mehta opened his campaign headquarters at the Atilis gym, creating a Constitutional checkmate against Murphy, forcing him to reopen all gyms across the state, it said.

Mehta said, “I spent much of my FDA career fighting to remove dangerous, unapproved drugs from the market while we were left alone by Pallone,” who served as the ranking member on the Health Subcommittee.

“There is no coincidence here – 30 years sitting in Congress as the ranking member of the Health Committee, Pallone never put forward a winning legislative agenda to END the opioid epidemic, hold opioid manufacturers accountable, and save American lives,” he said.

“So today, we’re left with over one million Americans dead under his watch and with countless numbers of families destroyed. Enough is enough. We deserve better,” Mehta said.

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