Indian American Puneet Ahluwalia is the type of candidate the multi-cultural state, Virginia needs to be part of the leadership on the Beltway State, Virginia. “I wasn’t born an American, my wife and I are Americans by choice,” says, Ahluwalia, who is part of the crowded 11-way race to become Virginia’s next lieutenant governor in 2021.
With five Democrats and four Republicans launching campaigns for their party’s nomination and several more potential candidates exploring bids, the race has become highly competitive.
Ahluwalia, a McLean businessman who emigrated from India, said he is running as a jobs creator who’d push to extend Northern Virginia’s economic success to the state’s struggling rural and urban areas, such as parts of Richmond and Hampton Roads. Ahluwalia, 53, said he’s opposed to some of the pandemic restrictions Northam imposed on businesses.
A Sikh whose wife is Muslim, Ahluwalia said he strongly supports gun rights, citing a 1984 massacre in Delhi when Sikhs were singled out and killed in revenge for the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two Sikh bodyguards. “Armed minorities are harder to repress,” he said.
Virginia’s part-time lieutenant governorship comes with just two duties: presiding over the state Senate and taking over for the governor if he can no longer carry out his duties. But the post is considered a steppingstone to higher office, particularly governor. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a former governor, all occupied the lieutenant governor’s seat before advancing in their political careers.
Several of the new Democratic candidates said they want to bring new focus to the lieutenant governor’s job, arguing that there should be more advocacy for core Democratic goals, including workers’ rights, racial equity and environmental justice from the office that is second in line to lead the state should the governor suddenly leave office or become unable to serve.
The Republican candidates said they want to reimpose pragmatic governance in the Democratic-controlled state, arguing that Virginia has veered too far to the left on policies related to law enforcement and the economy.
In his message to the electorate, the Indian American candidate, Ahluwalia says, “We want all Americans-including our own children and your’s – to enjoy the freedom and opportunity that have so blessed Nadia and me. We have operated and managed small businesses for many years. We have succeeded, we’ve failed, and we’ve succeeded again. We have also seen our businesses destroyed by rioters and looters.”
On the current political turmoil facing the nation, Ahluwalia says, “When the law breaks down though, the people hurt most are people of color. Where’s Ralph Northam? Where’s Justin Fairfax? All they do is blame Trump, then fade into the background. That’s not leadership. It’s finger-pointing. No more excuses.”
Taking a dig at the current leadership in his home-state, the India-born candidate, says, he runs to bring about a positive change in values: “The policies of progressive Democrats have trapped too many Virginians in poverty, a failed education system, and hopelessness. Virginia can enjoy a brilliant future, but it means holding the line on taxes, reducing unfair regulations, and standing up to those who attack our free enterprise system. Progressives think we Virginians work for them. It’s not true. And it’s time we take back our state and the values we share: hard work, personal responsibility, and love for neighbor. That’s why I’m running for Lieutenant Governor. I hope you’ll join me.”