Indian American Beej Das of Massachusetts, a 3rd Congressional District candidate minced no words when asked for specific opinions on politics and policy. Das sat down with The Sun’s editorial board last week to discuss his candidacy for U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas’ seat, which will open when she retires at the end of her current term. His pitch to voters centered around one key word: “different.”
Das believes Congress should vote to overturn federal laws criminalizing marijuana. He thinks the Democratic party whose nomination he seeks was “tone deaf” in the previous election cycle and needs a new perspective to flourish. He finds President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration “disastrous.”
And as Trump continues his push for a wall along the southern border, Das is clear that he would not agree, even in exchange for protections for DACA recipients who will soon be vulnerable to deportation.
“If the wall is nomenclature for tougher border security, nobody in the room is going to say no,” Das said. “(But) if the wall is a wall, it’s going to be a no. If it’s going to be a 30-foot wall, then no. That’s not who we are. The Berlin Wall fell for a reason. Let’s not construct a second one.”
Das sat down with The Sun’s editorial board Wednesday to discuss his candidacy for U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas’ seat, which will open when she retires at the end of her current term. His pitch to voters centered around one key word: “different.”
Das described himself as a candidate who, despite never before running for elected office, could blend legal experience with business acumen to bring a fresh perspective to Congress. After graduating from law school at the University of Michigan, Das, a Democrat clerked for Judge Benson Everett Legg, a Republican appointee, on the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Recently, the Indian American candidate announced in a campaign press release that he has raised $425,000 for his Congress run this year and currently has $550,000 cash on hand, according to the Lowell Sun. “I’m incredibly grateful for the number of individuals who believe in my campaign enough to support it financially. I’m particularly proud that more than half of our donations in the fourth quarter are small donations under $200. We were determined to raise the necessary funds for a competitive race that will allow us to run a grassroots campaign and meet as many voters as possible,” Das said in the release.
Das is a “constitutional lawyer by training, but an entrepreneur at heart” and has “built an innovative hotel company” which has over 100 full-time employees in three states, according to his website. Both of his parents came from India in the early 1960’s to study and build a better life for themselves, they eventually received their Ph.D.s at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and his mom became a professor at Lowell State College while his dad became one of America’s top engineers, according to his website.
Das received his Political Science degree from Middlebury College in Vermont after he attended UMass Lowell and grew fond of politics in 1988 when he was the President of the Young Democrats as well as an early volunteer for Gov. Michael Dukakis.
He then went on to study law at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor before becoming a “federal law clerk to Hon. Judge Benson Everett Legg of the United States District Court for Maryland where I helped decide cases ranging from civil rights, affirmative action and discrimination, commercial disputes, intellectual property, to drugs and other criminal matters,” according to his website. Das then returned to UMass Lowell to teach classes on the sociology of law and started a career at a leading Boston law firm before joining the hotel business.