The only South Asian American who has ever served in the New Jersey Senate is looking forward to doubling the number.

Senate Majority Leader Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) has approved Assembly Judicial Committee Chairman Raja Mukherjee (Jersey City) for an open seat in the state Senate in Hudson County’s 32nd District.

“As the first and only South Asian American to be elected to the New Jersey Senate – a state with a growing AAPI population of more than a million, Democrats must unite for Raja as the next senator as history can continue in the country’s most diverse states “- said Gopal.

The first Asian American to serve in the State Senate was Republican Kevin O’Toole (R-Cedar Grove), who is Korean. He served in 2001 and again from 2008 to 2017. O’Toole also became the first Asian American lawmaker when he won a seat in the National Assembly in 1995.

Democrat Upendra Chivukula (D-Franklin) became South Asia’s first lawmaker when he won a seat in the 17th constituency in the 2001 Assembly. He sought a nomination from the Democratic Party to Congress in 2014 and left two months after the primaries to become commissioner of the Public Services Council.

The Asian-American and Pacific Islander community has grown significantly over the past two years in the New Jersey legislature.

Sterley Stanley (East Brunswick) won a special election convention in 2021 for a seat in the 18th arrondissement after Nancy Pinkin was elected county clerk.

Last year, the size of the AAPI caucus in the legislature doubled with the election of Brendan Umba (R-Medford), Sadaf Jaffer (D-Montgomery), Shaim Haider (D-Tenafly) and Ellen Park (D-Englewood-Cliffs) Assembly.

Mukherjee, a former vice mayor of Jersey City, is a member of parliament for five terms and a former whip of the majority in the assembly.

“With a significant AAPI population in the county, there is no better way to become the next senator than MP Mukherjee,” Gopal said. “I can’t wait to help New Jersey go down in history with Raj.”

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