Tag Archive: NJ-7

This is how Team Chivukula does post-Hurricane contingency

With more than 80% of Somerville still without power, and a 5pm curfew in place because of still-dangerous conditions, the Chivukula for Congress HQ is inaccessible. But in addition to duties to his Assembly district constituents, there is also a congressional campaign going on with an election day 6 days away. Most of the staff is still without power, so today some of them went to Upendra and Dayci Chivukula’s home – where they’re lucky to have power – and got some work done together. They also had probably the calmest meal in days, charged all their devices and did their laundry.

This is how we do campaign contingency plans in NJ-7. How’s your campaign doing post-Sandy?

Chivukula for Congress contingency meeting

The Unsung Candidates

So, with redistricting behind us, we’re headed toward Election Day with a 6-6 House delegation of incumbents seeking reelection. That means we have 6 chances to increase the democratic majority in our delegation. Sure, some of these chances are better than others. But Presidential years are funny – you might remember we picked up a seat in 2008.

With polls showing both President Obama and Senator Menendez potentially posting gaudy margins of victory here, there should be cause for optimism. And, more importantly, there is good reason to support our democratic congressional challengers in every District. (You remember the 50-State-Strategy, don’t you?)

You’ll hear from others (and I’ll write separately) about the two challengers given the best chance to win this year – NJ-3’s Shelley Adler and NJ-7’s Upendra Chivukula. And, wow, I hope they do!

But, today, I’d like to give a quick shout out to the four other democratic candidates who are doing their part to bring the 50-state-strategy to life. When they campaign against their opponents, they keep them and their money in-district, and by extension, help democratic candidates everywhere. Win or lose, they deserve some appreciation (and some help):

In NJ-2: Cassandra Shober faces the same headwinds other challengers here have faced: an incumbent with an overrated record on labor, and a conventional wisdom that a democrat can’t win. But, the reality is that this is a district democrats can win and Obama may win, and hardly the worst place to be running for Congress in a Presidential year. Add in that Cassandra has a great background and a core of hardworking grassroots supporters, and who knows – surprises can happen.

In NJ-4: Brian Froelich has perhaps the toughest assignment, going against an incumbent whose radical anti-choice stance never seems to dent his personal popularity. But, could this year’s odd national focus on abortion rights finally shine the spotlight on a Congressman whose positions are more in line with Akin and Mourdock than NJ suburban voters? When the incumbent was first elected 32 years ago, he was given little chance to win. Surprises have happened.

In NJ-5: Adam Gussen has gotten beaten up here and elsewhere for raising too little money to compete against Scott Garrett. And, some of that is deserved. But, I know Adam is campaigning hard, he’s got a compelling story to tell about himself, and about the winnability of this race. And, let’s face it, someone like Garrett deserves to be challenged as fiercely as possible. I really want a surprise to happen.

In NJ-11: John Arvanites has waged a surprisingly aggressive campaign in a district that was radically redrawn as a result of redistricting. The Morris County Democrats who’ve suffered mostly alone under the generations of the incumbent and his family holding this seat have welcomed the addition of large swaths of Essex and Passaic County to help flip this one. Still the underdog, the final outcome of this race may be the hardest to predict. Supporters hope a surprise does happen.

And that’s the rub – New Jersey’s Congressional elections have become extraordinarily predictable. We need to create some surprises.

Lance Goes Up on TV With Generic GOP Ad — With EXTRA CHRISTIE!

Here’s an ad full of stock images, stock messages, standard evasions and boring platitudes.  It’s a perfect metaphor for Representative Leonard Lance’s career in the House where he has done nothing of note, pretended at independence, and voted the way the Tea Party told John Boehner they wanted Leonard to vote.

It’s really kind of sad because Lance was once a fairly independent guy in the NJ State Senate, which is one of the reasons they ran him for the NJ7 seat — to get him out and free up space for young bucks who would be better at toeing the party line.

NJ-7: A Congressional Race that North Jerseyans Can Be Excited About

promoted by Rosi

I know, I know.  NJ’s 7th Congressional District isn’t really what you’d call a “northern New Jersey District”.  And yeah, there are at least 5 other districts that cover more of Northern New Jersey (the 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th) than the 7th.

But taking a look at the races in those other districts (without mentioning any issues related to campaigns that I may or may not agree with), the 7th is really one of the NJ races to watch – and really the only one other than the 3rd which is hotly contested.  Sadly, looking at the other five districts (as Bill Orr did a few weeks back), while it is nice to see very strong leads for the Democrats in the 8th, 9th and 10th, the 5th and 11th are pretty much lost causes.

Take that with a growing lead for both President Obama and Senator Menendez (although you never want to be too confident), what’s a dedicated activist to do with their time and efforts on the Congressional level?  This may sound harsh, but if a candidate isn’t interested enough in their own campaign to raise the requisite funds to be taken the least bit seriously, why should activists waste their own precious time, money and effort?

And that brings me to the 7th.  Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula is running against “formerly moderate NJ Assemblyman turned right wing lackey” Congressman Leonard Lance.  This was a race that Assemblyman Chivukula entered late due to Ed Potosnak’s dropping out, but has been tagged as an “emerging race” by the DCCC.

For those who are in the 5th, especially the western part of the District, the 7th stretches into Warren County.  For those who are in the 11th, the 7th also stretches into Morris County.  And the 7th also touches on Essex County (Millburn).  Suffice to say, it is a massively large District, and progressives, liberals, Democrats, activists, door knockers, phonebankers, donors and anyone I missed who is disillusioned by the races in the 5th and 11th, or want to put their time and efforts towards something that isn’t as “in the bank” as the 8th, 9th and 10th can certainly help make a difference in the 7th.

Here is Chivukula’s first TV ad and here is his campaign website if you want more information.  As someone who lives in one of the other 5 Districts noted above, I’m going to focus some time writing about the 7th over the next few weeks as well and I know some other Blue Jerseyans are involved in the campaign on a deeper level.

Just because most races have already been decided for the most part doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to help out if you are so inclined.  The 7th is one really good way.

Engineering an Upset Victory

Many of the problems facing America today are self-imposed by the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives. It’s clear that in order to restore America’s economy, improve its schools, reclaim the mantle as a leader in technology and science, and improve living standards for all Americans, the Republican stranglehold in Congress must be removed.

It’s a big task. Twenty-five seats will need to flip in order to release the Boehner/Cantor grip on progress.

Here in New Jersey, there are at least two House races that are going to be uphill battles for the Democrats, but with some hard work and good GOTV campaigns are winnable. One, in my home district (NJ-3), is the candidacy of Shelley Adler, who is running against Republican lap dog Jon Runyan. Another is the race in the 7th District, where Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula is challenging two-term congressman Leonard Lance.

At one time, Lance was considered a moderate Republican, but that term has become oxymoronic. Over the last couple of years, Lance has embraced the extreme Tea Party agenda and has become part of the problem in impeding progress. As he mentions in my video interview below, Chivukula has been trained as an engineer – a problem solver – and is the right person to replace Lance.

Yesterday, I spoke with Chivukula on why he’s running and why he’s the best man for the job.



What’s the most Indian-American Congressional District in America? NJ-7?

UPDATE:If you guessed NJ-6 was the other district in the top 10 (joining NJ-7 where Chivukula is running & Rush Holt’s NJ-12) you’re smarter than you look.


David Jarman at Daily Kos’ offshoot Daily Kos Elections was pumped enough that Upendra Chivukula was getting in the NJ-7 race against Leonard Lance (broken here) that he did a little digging into whether NJ-7 is in fact the most Indian-American-intensive district in the nation.

It’s not. But it’s close. NJ-7 is 5th: 6.3% of its population of Asian Indian ancestry.

That includes many professionals working in central Jersey’s pharmaceutical and bio-tech corridors (the Assemblyman is an electrical engineer by education). It’s a built-in leg-up, before you even consider that Chivukula is already a fixture at many events where Indian-Americans are fundraising for Democrats. First or fifth doesn’t matter; as word spreads a lot there could well be interest in Chivukula’s race from Indian-Americans all over the country. Remember, he’s the first Indian-America ever elected to state office in NJ; only the fourth in the nation.

So. NJ-7 ranks 5th.

2 other NJ districts in the top 10.

What are they? I’ll give you the first; it’s too easy: Rush Holt’s 12th (ranks 3rd).

The other one ranks 6th. Which one is it? Guess in the poll below the fold.

(Jarman notes the numbers are based on the old district lines, pre-redistricting)

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.  

Congressman Leonard Lance- Town Meeting- February 25, 2012

promoted by Rosi

There are those, myself included, who have noticed a great difference between former State Sen. Leonard Lance and current Congressman Leonard Lance.

Star-Ledger columnist Tom Moran, in a May 2011 column, observed that Lance has undergone a “curious transformation” upon his election to Congress. Moran notes, for example, that Lance was a “pro-choice Republican going way back, [however] he voted recently to cut off all funding for Planned Parenthood, even those clinics that provide health care with no abortion services.”

Considering that this is an election year, and Lance faces a primary challenge from the conservative tea party end of his party, don’t expect him to return to the moderate centrist Lance anytime soon.

I attended the Congressman’s Town Meeting today, and Lance let pass any and every opportunity to return to his more moderate centrist former self.

Ed Potosnak drops out of NJ-7 race

By email today, Ed Potosnak informed supporters of his 2010 & 2012 runs for Congress against GOP incumbent Leonard Lance that he is ending his run for the seat this year. Potosnak had, after congressional redistricting, a clear shot at the Democratic nomination after former Edison mayor Jun Choi was redistricted out of the newly reconfigured 7th CD. Lance benefitted in the newly drawn district, gaining a district more favorable to the Republican. Lance beat Potosnak 59-41% in 2010.

Potosnak will be taking a job as Executive Director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. Before he ran for Congress, Potosnak was a high school chemistry teacher. In 2007, he wAs selected for the highly competitive Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship, which brought him to Washington, where he used his classroom experience to advise members of Congress on education policy. He received the Einstein fellowship twice, working in the DC office of Congressman Michael M. Honda, who is also a DNC Vice-Chair.

Below the fold, Potosnak’s message to supporters: