By Michael Covin
Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17) is looking to unseat Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ7) this November. Lance is not necessarily the strongest Republican incumbent in the state, but is not exactly endangered either. The openings in the race are there for Chivukula to take if he can find the right issues and messages to appeal to voters in the 7th Congressional District. With that in mind, Chivukula is taking his campaign around the district and focusing on uniting what can be perceived as a fractured federal government. Chivukula can certainly provide first-hand knowledge being part of the Democratic State Legislature and dealing with Governor Chris Christie.
During a stomp speech recently, Chivukula voiced;
"Too often Washington has washed its hands of fighting for education, jobs and a safe and secure retirement. 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."
During speeches like that, Chivukula is hoping to appeal to the middle class and often affordable education is one of the more important issues they face after jobs and the economy. The district's Republican lean has individuals like Somerset County Democratic Committee Chair Peg Schaffer working that much harder for Chivukula. For Schaffer,
"There is a war going on in Washington and they have a soldier on the front line in CD 7. I don't have to tell you his name because you're not going to know it after November (referencing Congressman Lance). He's known as the smartest legislator in Trenton (talking about 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."
Continuing to address individuals on the issue of educaiton, Chivukula has expressed;
"We must make politicians understand that education is not an expense. It is an equalizer between those who have much and those who need more. It's the pathway to economic opportunity."
Chivukula had a good second quarter in fundraising and if he can carry that momentum through another quarter and push that until November, he can close some the gaps that Lance entered the race with in his favor. He is certainly taking those fundraising successes and trying to pair that with some local support and hitting the ground. The more voters start to hear back Chivukula, if they do not already know about him; the more appeal he can bring into November's general election. Congressman Lance is likely not taking Chivukula lightly and this race could turn into a heated exchange down the October stretch as the Democrat continues to appeal the middle class of CD-7.