Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has endorsed Democrat challenger Indian American Peter Jacob, who hopes to unseat Republican incumbent Leonard Lance in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District, which includes Somerville and several other Somerset County municipalities.
Jacob and 60 other liberal Democrat candidates running for local, state and Congressional office in November’s election, are included on Sander’s preferred list of candidates and ballot initiatives on the Our Revolution website. The site was officially launched Wednesday on Sanders’ home turf with thousands of supporters in the audience and 2,600 viewing parties nationwide watching a Live Stream broadcast online.
Sanders’s endorsement is expected to give a big boost to the election campaign of 30-year-old Jacob, who is seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Leonard Lance who has represented Congressional District 7 of New Jersey since 2009. “Raised in Union, New Jersey, in an Indian-American family, Peter understands how important a safe and caring community is to success,” the website said. “Through various community organisations, Peter has helped fight the ongoing scourges of child abuse, human trafficking, and disastrous Iraq War,” it said.
Jacob, whose parents immigrated from India in 1986, hoped that this would help him enter the Congress. “Everyone at our campaign is incredibly touched and thankful for where we are at right now, however, we have a long way to go. With the backing of Senator Sanders, the Our Revolution campaign, and your help, we can bring the people’s voices back to Washington,” he said in a statement. Jacob is the only campaign selected by Sanders in the State of New Jersey.
This is the same Congressional district from where Upendra Chivukula – the first Indian American to be elected to the New Jersey State Assembly – tried his luck in 2012 and lost to Lance by more than 50,000 votes. The 7th Congressional District of New Jersey is said to be a strong Republican bastion. The party has retained this seat for the last 100 years, except for six years between 1975-1981.
Jacob’s political agenda embodies much of what Sanders has advocated – $15 an hour minmum wage, free college tuition, redistribution of wealth, less reliance on fossil fuels and other progressive initiatives. “Yesterday, we had the honor of being endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders and his new non-profit organization, Our Revolution. Not only did Our Revolution endorse us, but our candidacy became the first and only New Jersey campaign selected to carry the torch that he lit just last year,” Jacob said.
Our Revolution has begun, a movement of millions of people standing up and saying enough with politics as usual,” he added. “We deserve a candidate who will bring the people’s voice back to Washington, and we are honored Senator Sanders and Our Revolution believe in us to do exactly that,” Jacob said.
After attending Union County College, in New Jersey, Jacob continued undergraduate studies in Sociology at Kean University. Soon after, Peter studied at Washington University in St Louis, earning a Master of Social Work from the top-ranked program in the nation. During his undergraduate and graduate years, Peter was a student activist and leader.