MANVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Democrats unanimously selected Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula to receive the county line for the open District 12 Congressional seat currently held by Congressman Rush Holt.
“Congress is broken,” said Chivukula in his speech seeking the nomination. “All the Republicans in the House can do is cut, cut, cut. We need to make investments in our future.” He left the stage to a standing ovation and the thumping beats of the theme from Rocky.
Chivukula is running for the Democratic nomination against Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Hamilton) and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-Trenton). He is a resident of Franklin Township in Somerset County, and a former Councilman in the town, and as such enjoyed favorite son status. Previously Chivukula was recommended by the Somerset County Democratic Search Committee.
Bradley Campbell, the former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, stood in for Watson Coleman who was unable to attend. He said all three candidates for the nomination were accomplished legislators and would be highly qualified candidates for the general election. But he noted that it had been 30 years since New Jersey had a woman representing it in Washington D.C., and that Watson-Coleman was the best choice.
“I know I won’t win anyone over here by talking about Bonnie Watson-Coleman’s accomplishments, because I know that Upendra’s accomplishments are just as impressive,” said Campbell. “But as the first African-American woman to lead the New Jersey Democratic Party Bonnie is a trailblazer, and she will continue that in Washington.”
Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield) stood in for Linda Greenstein, who was also unable to attend. He, too, was impressed by the nominees.
“Isn’t it great to be a Democrat in the 12th district?” asked Diegnan. “To have so many great people vying for the nomination? I can commit for Linda that she’ll support Bonnie or Upendra should they win the nomination, and they’ll certainly do the same.”
Chivukula grew up in India with a family dedicated to education. Unfortunately his family couldn’t afford college, but he was able to gain scholarships to complete his bachelor’s degree and then to be accepted to graduate school in the United States. He graduated with a Masters in Electrical Engineering from the City College of New York, and worked in the field for more than 30 years.
“I arrive in America with $8 in my pocket and a chance at an education,” said Chivukula. “I’m running for Congress because American has been great to me. I want to be sure that the same opportunities are there for all kids regardless of race, gender or anything else.”
Also unanimously nominated was Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach for the 7th district against incumbent Congressman Leonard Lance, and Senator Cory Booker for the full term starting in 2015. Somerville Councilman Dennis Sullivan placed Booker in nomination, and Booker was represented by Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex).
Tony Pranzatelli of Bound Brook and Joan Pritchard of Bridgewater were nominated to run for Freeholder in Somerset County.