A political action committee launched by Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) earlier this year to help Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders running for public office has announced their first wave of endorsements: Edison mayoral candidate Sam Joshi and five Democratic candidates for the New Jersey State Assembly.
Kim’s In Our Hands PAC is backing former Montgomery Mayor Sadaf Jaffer for an open State Assembly seat in the politically competitive 16th district, along with Tenafly Democratic Municipal Chair Shama Haider and former Englewood Cliffs Councilwoman Ellen Park for open Assembly seats in the solidly-Democratic 37th.
Also getting endorsements were two Democrats facing tougher fights: New Jersey National Organization of Women president Anjali Mehrotra in the 21st, and Karlito Almeda, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, in District 39.
“This group of outstanding and diverse candidates are perfect examples of New Jersey’s growing AAPI population and diversity across the state,” Kim said. “When I started In Our Hands I wanted to focus on finding, recruiting, training, and building a strong, diverse pipeline of talent. These candidates show me that the future of AAPI leadership in New Jersey is bright, and I am confident each of them will make outstanding public servants.”
Kim’s PAC has raised over $50,000 since it’s launch six months ago. The group will launch their new website today, expanding their grassroots fundraising opportunities and displaying candidate profiles.
Acts of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders pushed Kim to start his PAC, aimed at helping AAPI and other candidates of color to run for office.
As the first Asian American to win a congressional seat in New Jersey – he ousted two-term incumbent Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River) in 2018 in a district Donald Trump carried twice – Kim said he was initially told that his white majority district would not vote for a candidate of color.
The premier race is Joshi, a councilman who is seeking to become the first Indian American to serve as mayor of Edison, the sixth-largest municipality in New Jersey and a town with a significant number of South Asian residents.
Joshi won a divisive primary in June – Kim endorsed him against Mahesh Bhagia, the Democratic Municipal Chairman – and now faces a competitive general election against Keith Hahn, a former Edison Democratic leader who is now running as a Republican.
Jaffer and Haider, who are both Pakistani Americans, would become the first Muslim members of the New Jersey Legislature.
The current legislature has three Asian American legislators. This election will likely increase that number, but also make history for the election of the first Asian American women to the legislature.