With a little over a third of precincts reporting in New Jersey’s U.S. Senate race for the Republican primary election on July 7, Indian American former Food and Drug Administration official Rik Mehta and engineer Hirsh Singh are neck-and-neck for the right to take on Democratic incumbent Corey Booker in the general election.

As of July 8, Singh and Mehta were atop the five-candidate Republican race, with 38.7 percent and 36.7 percent, respectively.

Patricia Flanagan (16.7 percent), Natalie Rivera (5.1 percent) and Eugene Anagnos (2.8 percent) rounded out the rest of the field. On the other side of the ticket, Booker won in a landslide over Lawrence Hamm 89.4 percent to 10.6 percent.

As of July 8, only 35 percent of the precincts had reported.

Mehta, who had been considered the frontrunner to take on Democrat Senator Cory Booker in 2020, recently launched his “Made in America” medicines campaign that will require companies to disclose the country of origin of their prescription drugs.

Americans have a right to know where their medicine comes from especially when nearly all other products are labeled with the country it was made in,” Mehta said in a press release. “Americans have a right to know whether their medicine was ‘Made in America’ or ‘Made in China’ and should be labeled as such.” (See earlier India-West story here: https://bit.ly/2UynJun)

Currently, the FDA does not require a drug’s label to include the country where the ingredients originated from to make the drug.

Mehta is a vice president at Aquestive Therapeutics and an adviser of Licentiam Inc., a firm focused on reducing regulation in the healthcare industry.

He previously served as Pfizer Consumer Health’s head of regulatory policy and was deputy director for the Division of Medical Policy Programs for the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Medical Policy.

Singh, an Indian American engineer from Atlantic County who works in the aerospace and defense industries, is making his third bid for public office. He lost the GOP primaries for governor in 2017 and Congress in 2018.

On his campaign website, Singh said, “We the people of New Jersey are suffering from political extremism and out-of-control egos. Our representatives have forgotten who they serve, our economic engine is choking and our infrastructure is crumbling. Together, we will rebuild our state.”

Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Singh's first professional experience was a four-month long stint as a geographic information systems technician at the Burlington County Office of Emergency Management in 2003.

Singh joined Hi-Tec Systems in 2004 as a junior network administrator and worked his way up through the company, eventually becoming senior director of Operations in 2013.

Singh earned a B.S. in engineering science, biomedical tissue engineering, and material science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2009.

Elsewhere in New Jersey, Indian American Arati Kreibich had been seeking the Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District.

Challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, Kreibich didn’t get the votes needed to move on to the general, falling 68.8 percent to 31.2 percent.

“Josh Gottheimer will be our Democratic nominee, and I intend to vote for him and Democrats up and down the ballot in November. Trump and the GOP must be defeated,” Kreibich wrote in an email to her supporters.

“This fight is more important than ever—we’ve seen time and time again the damage done to immigrants, women, and people of color when our party is undermined by conservative forces,” she said. “That’s why we must elect real Democrats who go to battle for working families rather than the machine.”

Kreibich concluded her email by saying, “I have no words for the gratitude I feel for everyone who helped me get here. It is because of all of you I decided to step up and run, and it is because of you I am not going anywhere. The work continues.”

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