WASHINGTON: Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders has endorsed Indian-American social-worker Peter Jacob, who is running for the US House of Representatives seat in New Jersey which is known to be a strong Republican bastion.
Sanders's endorsement is expected to give a big boost to the election campaign of 30-year-old Jacob, who is seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Leonard Lance who has represented Congressional District 7 of New Jersey since 2009.
Jacob's names figures in the list of 60 other liberal Democrat candidates running for local, state and Congressional office in November's election. The list has been posted on Sander's new initiative Our Revolution website.
"Raised in Union, New Jersey, in an Indian-American family, Peter understands how important a safe and caring community is to success," the website said.
"Through various community organisations, Peter has helped fight the ongoing scourges of child abuse, human trafficking, and disastrous Iraq War," it said.
"Meanwhile, he has continued to proudly campaign for healthcare reform, environmental sustainability, and immigrant integration back here in the US. If elected, Peter will continue to serve not just as a politician, but as a true public servant, and will fight to instill progressive values into New Jersey's legislation," the website said.
Indian-American Pramila Jayapal is other candidate who was endorsed by Sanders earlier.
Jayapal is running for Congress from Washington State. Sanders has also endorsed Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu Congresswoman, who is seeking her third term from Hawaii.
Jacob, whose parents immigrated from India in 1986, hoped that this would help him enter the Congress.
"Everyone at our campaign is incredibly touched and thankful for where we are at right now, however, we have a long way to go. With the backing of Senator Sanders, the Our Revolution campaign, and your help, we can bring the people's voices back to Washington," he said in a statement.
Jacob is the only campaign selected by Sanders in the State of New Jersey.
This is the same Congressional district from where Upendra Chivukula – the first Indian American to be elected to the New Jersey State Assembly – tried his luck in 2012 and lost to Lance by more than 50,000 votes.
The 7th Congressional District of New Jersey is said to be a strong Republican bastion. The party has retained this seat for the last 100 years, except for six years between 1975-1981.
After attending Union County College, in New Jersey, Jacob continued undergraduate studies in Sociology at Kean University. Soon after, 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.