Democratic Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula has announced he’s going to run against Republican Leonard Lance to represent the redrawn seventh congressional district. Chivukula sat down with NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider to discuss his decision to run, his chances of winning and how he feels about “Obamacare.”
Chivukula said he is a good candidate to represent the seventh congressional district because he has proven himself through is 10 years worth of work in the Assembly. He said he also represents a growing minority population of Asian-Americans. He was the first South Asian elected to Congress in New Jersey and his candidacy has made headlines in India.
When asked if he was intimidated by Lance as an opponent since he won by a greater margin most recently, Chivukula said, “No, because each election is different and each candidates. Campaigns are all about priorities and if I put the right priorities in terms of jobs and economic recovery and trying to help the working men and women, I think I could make a strong case for that.”
Chivukula has been an advocate for green energy. He said he supports subsidies to keep the industry alive and growing. “When trying to create a new economy, a new industry, then you need to give that initial boost,” he said.
Debate has been raging over President Obama’s healthcare reform plan, commonly referred to as Obamacare, as the Supreme Court hears a case to decide the constitutionality of certain aspects.
Chivukula said he supports the healthcare reform. “We are the richest country in the world and more than 40 million people are without any kind of healthcare,” he said.
He said that in New Jersey there are many unemployed and underemployed people who are without health insurance and it becomes problematic because they often end up in hospital emergency rooms, where the care costs five to six times more than traditional doctor care.
“I think we need to find the solution. I think Obamacare is a very good program,” Chivukula said. “We need to make sure that it works properly.”
The assemblyman also said he agreed with bringing troops home quickly, saying that the focus should be on the American people. He said that while the country spends billions of dollars on conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, other issues like education can suffer.