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Democratic Party Chair of N J County to be the Rising Star In State Politics

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By Ela Dutt

New Jersey: Vin Gopal, 30, chair of the Monmouth County Democratic Party, went into politics as a hobby, but it is proving to be an expensive and time consuming one for the youngest and only Indian-American to lead a county party in the state of New Jersey.

Busy organizing a string of meetings to get fellow Democrats elected to local and county office, come the June 14 elections, Gopal took time off his busy schedule to talk to reporters about the current state of Indian-Americans in politics and his future plans.

This will be Gopal’s third two-year term as chair of the county party, and he has no opposition. His predecessor held his position for 25 years. But Gopal is in a hurry and isn’t going to sit in this chair for long, maybe two more years, he indicated.

“Right now I’m focused on electing county and local candidates,” he told reporters. His dedication to that task is what got him elected in a county with very few Indian-Americans unlike some others like Middlesex or Somerset. Gopal was elected by 916 local Democratic Party committees in Monmouth County which is the seat of 20 Democratic Mayors, 126 Councilors, 2 state Assembly members, and 1 Democratic Congressman.

This March 12, Gopal caught some headlines for bringing the five 2017 Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls for the first time face to face, in “Gopal’s convention” as Politickernj described it. The young Indian-American politico is positioning himself as a pivotal player in the 2017 Democratic nomination process for the gubernatorial race, a year in which he hopes a Democrat will succeed Republican Gov Chris Christie.

US Rep Frank Pallone who attended the convention used Gopal as an example of the diversity of the Democratic Party. Attacking Republican Presidential front-runner Donald Trump for comments disparaging some Muslims and Hispanics, Pallone noted by contrast, “the presence of a county party chairman – Gopal – who happens to be a Hindu,” it was reported.

“Everyone loved Gopal today as that purveyor of party in a longtime typically Republican county where Dems, by virtue of demonstrable chairman-channeling energy, sense opportunity,” a news report said.

Politics, Gopal told, has proven to be, “a very expensive and very time-consuming hobby.” But the personable young man who started a marketing company when he was 22 and has some big-name clients, adds, “I enjoy this now but hopefully in the future I want to run for state legislature or the US Congress.”

He likes to think his proven work ethic and record of bringing people together will stand him in good stead.

Speculation began about his future upward trajectory back in 2015 when describing Gopal as “one of the most talented up and comers in New Jersey politics” was poised to run against state Sen. Jen Beck in 2017.

He says he was attracted to the Democratic Party not just because he considers it more fiscally responsible, “But also because I found them more welcoming and open to racial,” and religious diversity. He is a Hindu he pointed out, in a Christian-majority County.

Indian-Americans at this juncture he says are doing great on the national scene. Two (now one) Governors, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and now former Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal; a US Senator in the making (Kamala Harris of California), a front-runner like Judge Sri Srinivasan who was considered by President Obama for the Supreme Court, and a growing number of legislators, he ticks off one by one. “New Jersey Assemblyman Raj Mukherji is likely to become the next Mayor of Jersey City,” Gopal predicts.

“There’s a larger and growing number of Indian-Americans entering politics, and the workforce – as attorneys, police officers and not just in science and medicine,” Gopal says. “We’re going to see more of them as the children choose politics even if their parents are still more interested in other professions,” he adds. Each year, of the 30 or so interns employed at his County’s Democratic Party offices, at least 3 to 5 are of Indian or South Asian origin, he said.

The son of physicians, Gopal was born and raised in Freehold, N.J., and says “I do it (politics) because I like helping, and I enjoy dealing with issues like taxes, roads, growing the economy,” he said.

(The article was first published in

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US Senator Kelly Ayotte rejects Gun-Control Measures after Orlando shooting

The gun control issue is already a prominent one for voters in November elections after repeated mass shootings

Republican hopeful Kelly Ayotte, former Attorney General of the State of New Hampshire, of Nashua, at a debate at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010. The Republican hopefuls are running for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. Image source: (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
  • A group of senators still hoped to forge a compromise aimed at keeping firearms away from people on terrorism watch lists, but failed
  • The U.S. Senate rejected four measures restricting gun sales after last week’s mass shooting in Orlando
  • Hillary Clinton supported restrictions on gun laws, but republican candidate Donald Trump said he’s open to talks with the NRA about the issue

‘We will be no safer, no smarter’, if gun control measures fail again, said Senator Ayotte.

The U.S. Senate on Monday, June 20, rejected four measures for better gun control after last week’s massacre in an Orlando nightclub, dealing a bitter setback to advocates who have failed to get even modest gun curbs through Congress despite repeated mass shootings.

A group of senators was still hoping to forge a compromise for later in the week aimed at keeping firearms away from people on terrorism watch lists, although that effort faced an uphill battle with critics in both parties skeptical about its chances.

Last week’s massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, had intensified pressure on lawmakers, who moved swiftly to take the issue to the Senate floor. But the gun control measures lost in largely party-line votes that showed the lingering political power in Congress of gun rights defenders and the National Rifle Association.

Gun control
Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut calls for gun control legislation in the wake of the mass shooting in an Orlando. Image courtesy: AP

Republicans and their allies in the NRA gun lobby said the Democratic bills were too restrictive and trampled on the constitutional right to bear arms. Democrats attacked the Republicans’ two proposals as too weak and accused them of being in the thrall of the NRA.

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“What am I going to tell the community of Orlando?” asked Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida after the votes. “Sadly, what I’m going to tell them is the NRA won again.”

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, attacked the Democrats’ amendments and thanked Republicans for rejecting them. “Today, the American people witnessed an embarrassing display in the United States,” he said.

Street protest against Gun Laws in USA. Image source:
Street protest against Gun Laws in USA. Image source:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said the Democratic measures were ineffective and Republican senators “are pursuing real solutions that can help keep Americans safer from the threat of terrorism.”

As the parties remain largely locked in their positions, polls show Americans are increasingly in favor of more restrictions on guns in a country with more than 310 million weapons, about one for every citizen.

The issue is already a prominent one for voters in November elections. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton supports new gun restrictions, while Republican Donald Trump expressed a willingness to talk to the NRA about the issue.

After the votes, Clinton issued a one-word statement: “Enough.” It was followed by the names and ages of the dead in Orlando.

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Gun control efforts failed after mass shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 and a conference center in San Bernardino, California, in 2015. But some senators see resistance to gun restrictions softening as national security looms larger in the debate.

The Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to the militant group Islamic State as he killed 49 people in a gay nightclub.

“This country is under attack … it’s not a plane or an explosive device, it’s an assault weapon,” said Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat who led a 15-hour filibuster last week to draw attention to the effort to restrict guns.

-prepared by Saurabh Bodas (with inputs from Reuters), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter Handle: @saurabhbodas96