Indian American Raj Mukherji to run for New Jersey Senate

Raj Mukherji. Credit: Twitter.

Jersey City Assemblyman gets endorsements from state Gov Phil Murphy, State Sen Brian Stack, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla

Indian American Democrat Raj Mukherji, who represents Jersey City in the New Jersey state assembly has announced that he will run for the state Senate in the 32nd district next year.

Mukherji, 37, chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, has already won endorsements from Gov Phil Murphy Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, State Sen Brian Stack, and Hoboken’s Indian American Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

“The goal of securing a brighter tomorrow for my toddler son, Leo, and infant daughter, Liana, has strengthened my resolve to keep fighting for our state,” Mukherji said in a Feb 18 statement.

“So I’m humbly asking the people of Jersey City and Hoboken to return me to the legislature, this time in the Senate,” added the Marine Corps veteran and former Jersey City deputy mayor.

Read: Child marriage bill sponsored by Raj Mukherji clears NJ assembly panel (May 11, 2018)

Murphy gave the five-term assemblyman an endorsement less than one day after a new legislative redistricting map created a new open seat in Hudson County.

“Raj represents a new generation of leadership and I know the people of Jersey City and Hoboken have no better representative, which is why I enthusiastically endorse his candidacy for State Senate,” said Murphy.

“Over the past eight years, Raj Mukherji has been a tireless fighter for the people of Hudson County, representing some of the most diverse communities in our state,” he said.

“Whether as a job-creating CEO, Deputy Mayor of his beloved Jersey City, local prosecutor, or as a prolific lawmaker, Raj has excelled and championed progressive values and helped shape a stronger and fairer New Jersey.”

Murphy praised Mukherji’s legislative accomplishments during more than eight years in Trenton, where he served as Assembly Majority Whip before taking over the Judiciary chairmanship in 2020.

“From investing in mass transit to expanding Medicaid to cover essential healthcare needs to increasing funding for our public schools to protecting open spaces, Raj has been an ally of mine in the Assembly and will no doubt continue building on his strong record of progress in the Senate,” the governor said.

The newly-drawn 32nd district includes part of Jersey City and Hoboken, with an open Senate seat that became available after the new map pitted two veteran Democratic senators, Nicholas Sacco and Brian Stack, into the primary in the next-door 33rd district.

Mukherji was first elected in 2013 in the 33rd district, which is currently represented by Stack in the Senate.

The district, which is made up entirely of Hoboken and northern Jersey City, has a white plurality but includes the second-largest Asian American population of any district on the new map, at 32%.

The endorsements from Fulop, Stack, and Bhalla, three of the most important figures in the district, make Mukherji the prohibitive frontrunner in the Democratic primary.

Read: Indian American lawmaker Raj Mukherji appointed Majority Whip of New Jersey General Assembly (January 15, 2018)

“For the last eight years, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji has been a tenacious fighter for Hudson County,” Stack said.

“I proudly endorse him for the State Senate, and we will work day and night for Raj to make sure our neighbors continue to be well represented in the new district.”

Mukherji has been an invaluable partner in preserving open space, as well as moving forward resiliency and transportation projects in the Mile Square City, Bhalla said.

“From securing funding for Hoboken’s open space and resiliency projects, helping preserve our waterfront at Union Dry Dock, and moving forward critical transportation projects, Raj Mukherji has been a steadfast champion for our community,” he noted.

“And, as the son of South Asian immigrants and a successful small business owner, Raj has the real life experience that will serve him well in the State Senate,” Bhalla said. “I’m incredibly proud to support his candidacy so Hoboken can continue to have the representation it needs in Trenton.”

The son of immigrants, Mukherji supported himself through high school, college, and grad school as an emancipated minor when economic circumstances forced his parents to return to their native India, according to his official bio.

Raj had founded an Internet consulting and software development company while in middle school, grew it, and later sold it to a larger technology company to enlist in the Marines two weeks after 9/11 at age 17, where he served in military intelligence as a reservist.

The young entrepreneur withdrew from high school after completing ninth grade to focus on his business endeavors and support himself after his parents were forced to move to India.

Read: Gov. Murphy Endorses New Jersey Assemblyman Raj Mukherji’s State Senate Run From Newly-Drawn 32nd District (February 19, 2022)

At 15, he enrolled in an early college program at Bard College at Simon’s Rock and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State University, an individualized Master of Liberal Arts focused on national security from the University of Pennsylvania, and a law degree (Juris Doctor), cum laude, from Seton Hall Law School, which he attended on a Chancellor’s Scholarship.

At 24, Raj was appointed Commissioner and Chairman of the Jersey City Housing Authority, the youngest in city history.

At 27, he was appointed Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, where he served from 2012-13. Next year he was elected to the state assembly.

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