New Jersey’s Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has endorsed Democrat Rupande Mehta for state Senate.
Mehta, a candidate in the 25th Legislative District’s special election, is challenging Republican state Sen. Anthony M. Bucco.
Mehta is an analytical specialist working in sourcing and negotiations on multi-million dollar projects, employing her skills in team building and conflict resolution for a Fortune 100 company in New Jersey, her bio notes on her campaign site, www.rupandemehta.com.
The Indian American candidate has an MBA, a Master's in Public Administration and was a Fellow of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers. She currently lives in Denville with her husband and daughter.
Mehta is a 2019 Emerge graduate and a community and non-profit leader. She also founded The SAR Foundation, which works to train local and state organizations on issues of abuse and violence, her bio adds.
Mehta’s experience and education have imbued her with leadership skills and a keen eye for detail, her campaign website notes.
Her time as an Eagleton Fellow gave her state-level exposure in government and public affairs and developing public policy, and she knows how to identify public problems and has the tools to develop solutions. She is part of a new wave of politically engaged women running for office, her bio boasts.
Mehta ran for Morris County Freeholder coming within 2 points of victory, giving her time and experience engaging with voters in the district.
Her success in building coalitions and engaging with voters gave her the confidence to start preparing for the Senate race, the campaign said.
The bio continues to note that voters who know politics as usual can’t solve the problems in Trenton.
“We need innovative solutions and a fresh way of thinking to fix the problems in Trenton. Rupande Mehta brings that with her education, skills, experience, attitude, relationship in this district and a warm and open demeanor,” it says.
Having served as a domestic violence liaison, Mehta is an efficient negotiator and engages in conflict resolution driven by empathy. A tireless advocate with a unique ability to connect with constituents, she is running for state Senate to stand up for New Jersey families from all walks of life, the bio said.
The Weinberg endorsement is the first real indication so far that state Democratic leaders are showing an interest in ousting Bucco, the New Jersey Globe reports.
Bucco won a special election convention for state Senate last October to replace his father, state Sen. Anthony R. Bucco. The elder Bucco had served in the legislature since 1995 and died of a massive heart attack in September, the Globe reported.
Bucco’s death came days after the deadline to let the voters pick a new senator, it said.
Despite moving up to the Senate, the younger Bucco remained on the ballot and was re-elected to a State Assembly seat he had no intention of taking.
“Now more than ever, it is crucial to encourage and support women to run for office which is why I am endorsing Rupande Mehta,” Weinberg said in a statement, according to the report.
“In order to continue to combat New Jersey’s toxic political culture, we need representation that reflects New Jersey residents,” the Senate Majority Leader added.
So far, the Mehta campaign has been without the typical infrastructure that comes when state Democrats decide to target an incumbent senator.
Senate Democrats have not devoted any significant resources into the race yet, the publication said.
In a July filing with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Mehta reported raising $52,914 and has $31,387 cash-on-hand. Bucco raised $212,784 and has $70,957 in the bank, it said.
At around the same point in 2017, the last time Democrats ousted a Republican state senator, Vin Gopal had raised $401,197, according to the report.
One of Gopal’s top operatives, Kinn Badger, is managing Mehta’s Senate campaign, the Globe notes.
Mehta defeated former Morris Township Mayor Jeff Grayzel by two votes at the Morris County Democratic convention in March.
Bucco won his Assembly seat by 3,057 votes in 2019. He was replaced in the Assembly by Aura Dunn.
“I know Rupande will protect our core democratic values by standing up for a woman’s right to choose, the civil rights of the LGBTQ community, all people of color, and standing by DREAMERS,” said Weinberg.