BRIDGEWATER – In a packed room of supporters at the Marriott this morning, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, (D-17), Franklin Township, formally kicked off his run for U.S. Congress in the 7th District, presenting himself as the candidate who can best help unite a fractured federal government.
“Too often Washington has washed its hands of fighting for education, jobs and a safe and secure retirement,” said the Democrat, introduced by his wife Dayci. “We have a Congress that does not listen to us. There is a future we must all agree on. Let’s agree to make education affordable for middle-class families and not let our children be saddled by debt.”
In this Republican-leaning 7th District, Somerset County Democratic Committee Chair Peg Schaffer also emphasized her candidate’s dedication to a bruised middle class.
“There is a war going on in Washington and they have a soldier on the front line in CD 7,” said Schaffer. “I don’t have to tell you his name because you’re not going to know it after November.”
That was a jibe at the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7).
An engineer by trade, 12 years retired from Bell Labs and a ten year veteran of the assembly, Chivukula said he wants to preserve higher education loans for students in need.
“We must make politicians understand that education is not an expense,” he said. “It is an equalizer between those who have much and those who need more. It’s the pathway to economic opportunity.”
“He’s known as the smartest legislator in Trenton,” Schaffer said of Chivukula. “When he goes to D.C., he’s going to have to compete with Rush Holt. So you know what, you might be number two.”
State Sen. Bob Smith, (D-17), Piscataway, was among the many dignitaries who attended the event.
Dayci Chivukula introduced her husband of 30 years as a compassionate thinker and problem solver who transcends partisan politics.
“He has always supported my dreams,” said Dayci Chivukula, a Cuban immigrant who met her husband at the City College of New York. “It is only fitting that I support his. There is no better person I know who can bring people together. He is the bridge.”
While uniformly demonstrable of love for the candidate – and proud of the caliber of the candidate – Democrats milling in the carpeted room after Chivukula’s speech grimly acknowledged a difficult district that grew more Republican with redistricting since Lance flattened challenger Ed Potosnak two years ago.
Still, they say Chivukula will surprise people with the amount of money he’s raised, rumored to be in the $350,000 to $400,000 range.