State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) announced today that he will assume the chairmanship of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, a coalition of seven Asian American state senators and assemblymembers serving in the New Jersey Legislature. He’ll take over from Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City), who has led the fledgling caucus since it was formed two years ago.
“We are proud to be part of a diverse state whose AAPI population has now reached over 1 million people,” Gopal said in a statement. “[Assemblyman Mukherji] has been a worthy champion of that constituency, and I look forward to continuing where he leaves off and am honored to serve as chair of our growing and ever-diverse caucus.”
When the caucus was created in April 2021, it only consisted of Gopal, Mukherji, and Assemblyman Sterley Stanley (D-East Brunswick).
After a landmark 2021 election cycle, the caucus added four new members: Assemblywomen Shama Haider (D-Tenafly), Sadaf Jaffer (D-Montgomery), and Ellen Park (D-Englewood Cliffs) – the first three Asian American women to ever serve in the legislature – and Assemblyman Brandon Umba (R-Hainesport), the caucus’s only Republican member.
This year, Mukherji is set to move up to the State Senate, while Jaffer is retiring after just one term. But Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas is likely headed to the Assembly from the 40th district, keeping overall Asian representation steady at seven.