- The Indian American was defeated by a huge margin by Monmouth County Commissioner Sue Kiley. She will face off incumbent Frank Pallone in November.
Rik Mehta’s hopes to become the first South Asian in U.S. Congress from New Jersey were shattered on June 7, as he failed to get the Republican nomination from the 6th congressional district. He was defeated by a huge margin by Monmouth County Commissioner Sue Kiley. She received 57 percent, while Mehta got 27 percent of the votes, according to The New York Times. Kiley will take on longtime incumbent Rep. Frank Pallone this November.
Mehta announced his intent to run from District 6 this January. Instead of running against Democrat Tom Malinowski in New Jersey’s Congressional District 7, he decided to run in District 6, which has one of the largest Indian American populations in the country. Mehta, who was living in Chester in Morris County, also announced 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.
Despite his high-profile Senate bid against Sen. Cory Booker in 2020, New Jersey Globe noted that “Mehta had trouble raising money, and his bid to become the anti-establishment alternative for Trump-oriented voters didn’t take off.”
Mehta had announced his bid against Malinowski in February 2021.
During his 2020 challenge against Booker, Mehta made history as the first Indian American candidate to win a statewide nomination for either party. 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 the 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.”