Rik Mehta is expected to drop his bid for the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district and run against House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch) in a Middlesex-Monmouth district, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Mehta, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate against Cory Booker in 2020, has scheduled an announcement for Monday evening in Edison. Keith Hahn, the GOP candidate for mayor of Edison, told the New Jersey Globe that he will support Mehta.
Middlesex County GOP Chairman Rob Bengivenga is set to appear at Mehta’s launch.
Monmouth County Commissioner Sue Kiley, who is set to announce her challenge to Pallone next week.
Former Republican National Committee staffer Thomas Toomey dropped out of the 11th district House race against Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) after the new congressional map was announced and is now looking to take on Pallone, who has held the seat since 1988.
Mehta had announced his bid against Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) in February 2021.
A former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official, Mehta lost to Booker by 724,126 votes, 57%-41%.
Record voter turnout in the 2020 general election caused Booker to become the highest vote-getter for statewide office in New Jersey history. At the same time, Mehta received more votes than any other Republican statewide candidate in history after breaking a record set by U.S. Senator Clifford P. Case in 1972.
He received 1,817,052 in his race against Booker, a vote total that outperformed Republican statewide victors like former governors Chris Christie, Christine Todd Whitman, and Thomas H. Kean.
Mehta is seeking to become the first South Asian American to win a House seat in New Jersey, in a district that has the state’s largest percentage of Asian American voters.
As a U.S. Senate candidate, he won the organization lines in Middlesex and Monmouth counties.
Updated at 2:21 PM on Monday, January 10 — Statement from Mehta: “Out of touch politicians who think the Bill of Rights is above their pay grade don’t understand what it’s like to lose a business. My father came to this country with only $100 in his pocket. We didn’t have much, but we found the American Dream. It’s time that our communities and small businesses, from Oak Tree Road to Ocean Avenue, get the right representation in Washington. I’m ready to be the voice for the people and work to create economic freedom, make effective testing and treatment options to COVID available, bring medical innovation and manufacturing back to New Jersey, stand up for small business owners and protect our beautiful shores and beaches. For over 30 years, Rep. Pallone built his career off the backs of our proud immigrant communities while turning his back on our small businesses when they needed him the most. He’s not one of us and I plan to retire him in November”.