- The Republican believes the large Indian American base in District 6 gives the party an opportunity to grow and diversify its base.
Rik Meha is seeking to become the first South Asian American to win a House seat in New Jersey. But there’s a change of plans. Instead of running against Democrat Tom Malinowski in New Jersey’s Congressional District 7, the Indian American Republican will challenge Rep. Frank Pallone in District 6, which has “one of the largest Indian American populations in the country.”
Mehta, who has been living in Chester in Morris County, announced today, Jan. 10 that he is relocating to Iselin in Middlesex County. District 6 “covers most of Middlesex County and a good portion of Monmouth County, including the Bayshore and twelve communities on the Atlantic Ocean,” according to Pallone’s website. In a statement issued Jan. 10, Mehta said District 6, with “over a 55 percent black and brown population,” gives New Jersey Republicans an opportunity to grow and diversify their base.”
Mehta had announced his bid against Malinowski in February 2021.
In 2020, he challenged Sen. Cory Booker, and “made history as the first Indian American candidate to win a statewide nomination for either party,” read Mehta’s statement. He lost to Booker by 724,126 votes, 57 percent to 41 percent. Despite his loss, the political newcomer received more votes (over 1.8 million) than any other Republican statewide candidate, breaking a record set by U.S. Senator Clifford P. Case in 1972.
Previously, he served as a consumer safety officer and deputy division director at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under President Barack Obama from 2008 to 2012. NorthJersey.com says Mehta “switched parties because he was alarmed at what he called the ‘globalization of the medical supply chain while so many companies in New Jersey were shuttering.’”
Additionally, Mehta noted in the statement that “in the peak of the pandemic,” he championed his slogan ‘Save Small Business’ “which became a rallying cry across the state and the nation in 2020 amidst the draconian lockdowns pushed by Democrat Governor Phil Murphy,” the statement said, adding that Murphy and Mehta “traded jabs after Mehta opened his campaign headquarters at the Atilis gym.”
Speaking about Pallone, Mehta said that as the ranking Democrat of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he “pushed President Biden’s failed policies that resulted in high inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, labor shortages and a depressed economy.” He also accused the congressman of leading the Health Subcommittee “allowing for the opioid epidemic, one of the worst public health crises in America, to ravage our nation while never holding bad pharmaceutical companies accountable.” Mehta stated that he spent much of his FDA career “fighting to remove dangerous, unapproved drugs from the market.”
Noting that “our communities and small businesses, from Oak Tree Road to Ocean Avenue, get the right representation in Washington,” Mehta said he is “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.”