Donald Trump rhetoric gives hope to Indian-American Congress hopeful

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An Indian-American social-worker running for the US Congress from New Jersey is confident of winning the seat and dislodging a four-time Republican veteran in the 8 November general elections due to Donald Trump’s rhetoric and lewd remarks about women.

“Things are changing fast. I have a very good chance now,” said Peter Jacob, 30, a Democrat who is running for the US House of Representative from 7th Congressional District in New Jersey which is known to be a strong Republican bastion.

Trump’s unpleasant rhetoric and lewd remarks about women appears to be changing the dynamics of New Jersey, which over the past several decades has repeatedly sent Republican leaders to the Congress.

On Saturday, hours after his morning door-to-door campaign, he managed to convince a Trump supporter to vote for him, Jacob, who was born in Kerala, claimed sitting in his small single-family home in a Union neighbourhood of New Jersey.

A recent internal survey shows he has narrowed the gap with his opponent Leonard Lance. While Lance is supported by 37 per cent of the registered voters, he is being supported by 34 per cent.

Yesterday, several of the senior advisers from the Bernie Sanders Campaign joined his Congressional campaign. US Senator from Vermont, Sanders has already endorsed him, which he says has given a big boost to his campaign among the youths.

Adam Burgdorf, who held the position of Political Affairs Adviser at the UN, has joined Jacob’s team as Deputy Communications Manager.

“The campaign is expanding its reach; Peter continues to gain supporters because he talks about the important issues and he is not a ‘career politician’ type,” said Fred Lonsdale, former GOTV Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Latest Federal Election Commission filings show Jacob out- raise his opponent Lance on individual contributions by a margin of nearly three to one.

Jacob has consistently campaigned to put “People Over Politics” by prioritising the concerns and needs of everyday people over those of large corporations and career politicians.

Jacob, who spend several hours a day in his door-to-door campaign, said he plans to reach out to most of his 500,000 voters before the election day either personally, or by phone, email, letters and television advertisement.

Based on his interaction with the voters, he feels that this time there would be a high voter turnout.

The 7th Congressional district in New Jersey is home to inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Four years ago, Indian-American Upendra Chivukula had tried his luck from the same seat and had lost to Lance by more than 50,000 votes.

The Indian-American community constitutes just one per cent of the total voters and Asian- American account for 10 per cent.

Jacob, who became a US citizen at the age of 21, has been involved in social work from his childhood. As a school student, he saved his pocket money to send it to the Missionaries of Charities for the poor people.

St Mother Teresa sent him a thank you note in 1994.

“I am an Indian-American. I see myself as an Indian soul with and American heart,” Jacob said, adding that he is not Bobby Jindal, the former Louisiana governor who after winning elections distanced himself from the community.

Even in his speech and campaign events, he proudly talks about Kochi airport in Kerala which is now fully solar.

If elected, Jacob said he wants to focus on infrastructure development.

After attending Union County College in New Jersey, Jacob continued undergraduate studies in Sociology at Kean University. Later, Peter studied at Washington University in St Louis, earning a Master of Social Work from the top-ranked program in the nation.

During his undergraduate and graduate years, Peter was a student activist and leader. He worked with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), the Young Womens Christian Association (YWCA), and the International Institute.

Through these and other community organisations, he helped fight the ongoing scourges of child abuse, human trafficking, and disastrous Iraq war.

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