It’s no secret that New Jersey has the second largest number of Indian Americans in the United States. It’s also no secret that Rikin “Rik” Mehta did not file Elec papers to run for New Jersey governor. After an impressive run for U.S. Senate on a platform to save small businesses Mehta netted over 1.8 million votes setting the record as New Jersey’s highest vote getter for any Republican candidate in New Jersey.
So, it begs the first question – what’s next in Rik Mehta’s political career?
Remarkably, Mehta’s vote record among Republicans even beat out politically battle scarred former Governor Chris Christie and Biden-loyalist, former Governor Christie Todd Whitman – when they were at the peaks of their popularity. Neither one donated to Mehta, but the latter donated to Sen. Booker. Think about this – former U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin, a multi millionaire pharmaceutical czar, and potentially the next NJGOP Chair, spent over 60 million dollars to earn 1.4 million votes: this pales in comparison to Mehta’s 1.8 million. New Jersey’s current Governor Phil Murphy only received 1.2 million votes and spent millions to win the Governor’s race. That means, even if Mehta ran and 35% of his voters decided not to vote, Mehta would still win the Governor’s race.
Which leads me to my second question – why isn’t Rik Mehta running for Governor?
I suppose he’s not a perennial candidate though I suspect Mehta is plotting his next political move to capitalize off his massive political currency. So, it would make sense that the next Republican nominee for the Gubernatorial race would be chomping at the bit to get Mehta to run with him. Remember, Mehta is no stranger to the boxing ring against Murphy. Lest we not forget the time Mehta slammed Murphy for his hypocritical policies that killed thousands of nursing and veteran home residents and Murphy fired back calling Mehta “from outer space”. Or the time when Mehta stood shoulder to shoulder with the Atilis gym, making it his political headquarters and forcing the state to partially reopen gyms to Murphy’s chagrin.
During a time when 30% of New Jersey small businesses have been decimated, a botched State vaccination plan and long lines at the unemployment office, food banks, and MVC, our Lieutenant Governor has been a feckless figure head. With Mehta’s credentials, he could overhaul the role of Lieutenant Governor and spearhead New Jersey’s efforts to control the pandemic, rollout an interagency strategic plan to protect and prepare New Jersey against the virus and be an advocate for the Governor to work across the Democrat-drenched aisle in Trenton to reopen our economy and improve New Jersey’s poor business climate safely and fully.
While Mehta seemed to have launched his political aspirations out of thin air, his accomplishments in the private sector make him an attractive candidate for the Republican party. From his bio, Mehta’s story seems to be like a New Jersey success story. He’s a first-generation American whose father immigrated here 50 years ago with only $100 in his pocket while his mother worked two jobs and managed the household. Mehta achieved two doctoral degrees, joined the FDA as a Consumer Safety Officer to fight the illegal opioid scourge, started 3 successful companies in the private sector, took an academic appointment as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and Rutgers University, and won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020.
Throughout his 2020 campaign, Mehta ran as a commonsense conservative. As a husband and father of 3 boys, Mehta supported school choice, infrastructure development, fixing the ailing U.S. healthcare system, and lowering prescription drug prices.
With these credentials, this raises the third and most important question – would Mehta even accept the nod to be the next Lieutenant Governor nominee for the Republican party?
With the current vote-by-mail edict, it doesn’t seem likely for any Republican to win a statewide race where Democrats hold a commanding voter registration lead. Remember, former Lieutenant Governor and 2017 Republican nominee for Governor Kim Guadango lost by 13.5 points to Phil Murphy. With those numbers, Mehta may be better off exploring a run for Congress in 2022.
Either way, I am sure Mehta’s political career has staying power.