Upendra Chivukula Running for Congress in CD7

The oddly-shaped congressional district that stretched across central Jersey has been without a Democrat ready and willing to challenge Rep. Leonard Lance since 2010 candidate Ed Potosnak abandoned campaign plans to take the helm at League of Conservation Voters – NJ.

And now we hear that Upendra Chivukula, who represents the 17th Legislative District in the NJ Assembly, is gearing up to run.

Just in time. Good luck to Assemblyman Chivukula.

He is Deputy Speaker in the Assembly, where he has served in the Assembly in the district stretching across Middlesex and Somerset for 10 years. He is an electrical engineer by education, and was council member then mayor of Franklin Twp. (Somerset) before his election to the Assembly.

Chivukula is first Indian-American elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in its history, and only the 4th Indian-American in the United States to be elected to state office.

Chivukula does not currently live in the congressional district.  

Comments (17)

  1. sayitaintso

    I would not call Upendra a liberal.  He’s conservative by temprement,  but conscientious to the max.

  2. deciminyan

    Chivukula is one of the smartest legislators I have known. And on top of that, having had several interactions with him in Trenton and in his district, he’s a nice person. He’s one of the few legislators who has gone out of his way to greet me when we cross paths in Trenton.  It would be great to see someone like him, a fellow electrical engineer, go to Congress. Imagine what we could accomplish with an engineer and a physicist in adjacent districts.

  3. zi985

    I’m happy to see my Assemblyman, Upendra Chivukula, run for Congress. For the past ten years in Trenton he has proven to be a consistent progressive who epitomizes the American Dream of working your way up to the top form an immigrant background.  However, he will have a very tough battle to run successfully against Leonard Lance in the newly formed 7th Congressional District.  For one thing, Chivukula still lives in my hometown of Franklin Twp., which is in Rush Holt’s 12th District, NOT the new 7th District.  Lance will label Chivukula as an outsider who not only doesn’t live in the 7th District but doesn’t understand the needs and wants of the communities in the 7th District that Lance has represented in Trenton and Washington for over 20 years.  

    Secondly, the new 7th Congressional District is constructed for a Republican to win.  The current 7th District is R+3 on the Cook Partisan Voting Index but the new 7th District is significantly more Republican.  The addition of the entire southern part of Hunterdon County, the southern part of Warren County, the southwestern part of Morris County, almost all of Somerset County, and the loss of the Middlesex County part of the 7th District will completely favor Lance.  The only parts of the new 7th Congressional District that will favor Chivukula are the 13 towns in Union County and Millburn in Essex County.  Check out this interactive map to see the new Congressional District lines and what the old district looked like: http://njgin.state.nj.us/state…      

    Assemblyman Chivukula has $2,284,354 in his Campaign account to date according to FollowTheMoney.com; http://www.followthemoney.org/…  Leonard Lance currently has $513,303 cash on hand as of Dec. 31st, 2011, according to OpenSecrets.org; http://www.opensecrets.org/pol

    The 2 million+ dollars Chivukula has is the one advantage he has going into this race.  It would appear that Chivukula was gearing up to run for Congress in the 6th Congressional District (where he currently lives) in the event that Frank Pallone ran for U.S. Senate in 2014 but that plan got messed up when his part of Franklin Twp. was redistricted into Rush Holt’s 12th Congressional District.  Since it’s now questionable if Frank Lautenberg will indeed retire come 2014 and, it’s very possible that Pallone will not retire anytime soon.  It seems to me that Chivukula is running in the 7th District to get better name recognition so that in the future if he runs in the 12th or 6th Congressional Districts (when and if Rush Holt or Frank Pallone retires or runs for the U.S. Senate in the future) he would be better positioned and could get lots of Democratic establishment support in a potential primary battle for the 12th or the 6th when that time comes.  


  4. zi985

    Assemblyman Chivukula has been planning on running for Congress for awhile now.  For one thing he has raised a very large sum of money (there is no reason an incumbent State Assemblyman in a safe Democratic District would need to raise over 2 million dollars).  Secondly, Assemblyman Chivukula has had a “Chivukula for Congress” website for quite some time now.  Here’s a link to his Congressional campaign website: http://www.chivukulaforcongres

    Also, here’s a link to Assemblyman Chivukula’s State Assembly campaign website: http://www.chivukulanj.com/

  5. tabbycat31

    I met him last year when he came down to help us out with the campaign.  Nice guy and he tells a funny story about how to pronounce his last name.

  6. Bertin Lefkovic

    I wish Assemblyman Chivukula the best against Lance, but by announcing his run now, he is almost guaranteeing that Lance will win his primary election against Tea Party challenger, David Larsen.  

    Lance probably would have beaten Larsen either way, but if Chivukula had put up a weak decoy candidate now and waited in the wings, it is possible that the turnout for the primary election would have been low enough that Larsen could have pulled off an upset.

    Now, the Republican establishment is going to turn their efforts up a notch to make sure that Lance wins, because they know that if Larsen won, Chivukula would actually have a decent chance to win in November.

    That said, if Chivukula really works the district hard, I think that he could pull off an upset.  My only concern is that his legislative district has never required him to campaign very hard and I don’t know if that is something that someone can just turn on after more than a decade of being in a safe district.  Only time will tell.


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