In an October 2016 political ad to kick-start his run for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in Ohio, Aftab Pureval, played on his first name and the famous squacking duck in the insurance company Aflac advertisement. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6eI_BlH4wc).
He ran successive catchy ads featuring his own yellow duck, and joking about his name, ending up defeating an incumbent from a storied family, Tracy Winkler.
Even during his swearing-in, the U.S. District Court Judge conducting the ceremony could not resist cracking an “Aftab” squawk to the audience’s delight, as a smiling Pureval, (pronounced ‘pure-val’) waited to be sworn in. Those superbly conceived political ads are what may have caught the attention of the national leadership, which saw him break the long-time vice-like grip on the county clerk office by Republicans.
The personable young Indian-American, born and raised in Southwest Ohio, is now being viewed by top Democrats as a worthy candidate to run against Republican incumbent Congressman Steve Chabot of Westwood, Ohio, in Congressional District 1, according to Cincinnati.com.
“He’s an incredibly talented public servant who has already made an impact in his role as Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, even earning praise from top Republican officials who are impressed with his accomplishments,” Gautam Raghavan of the Indian-American Impact Project and Indian-American Impact Fund, told News India Times.
A product of Ohio public schools, whose parents are first-generation Americans, Pureval reportedly met recently with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington, D.C.
The Ohio State University graduate showed early promise when as the student body president, he lobbied the Ohio state legislature to increase funding for higher education. Pureval did law from the University of Cincinnati where he was editor of the Law Review, and worked at the Domestic Violence Clinic, his bio states. He was also appointed by Governor Bob Taft to work on a taskforce with university presidents and state legislators to study higher-education funding and submit strategies for reform.
After law school, Pureval moved to Washington, D.C., to join the well-known law firm of White & Case LLP, where he was honored with a firm-wide award for his pro bono work representing battered women.
Pureval returned to Hamilton County where he worked as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice. As a federal prosecutor, he worked with the FBI, Secret Service, and other law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute felonies involving guns, crimes against children, and white-collar crimes.
Fast forward to 2018, and his kind of background is what the Democratic Party believes will swing the vote in its favor.
“Washington Democrats could be close to landing their big-time candidate to take on Congressman Steve Chabot this fall,” Cincinnati.com said describing Pureval as a great catch. A spokeswoman for Pureval’s campaign confirmed to the news outlet that he is being recruited, but declined further comment.
In the first week of January, Pureval reportedly traveled to the capital to meet with the DCCC, which according to Cincinnati.com, had been courting the Indian-American since the Spring of 2017, soon after he got elected as county clerk.
“He represents the future of political leadership in this country, and his story and his family’s story is evidence of the promise of America,” said Raghavan, former White House liaison to the Pentagon during the Obama administration.
Repeated calls by Desi Talk to reach Pureval at his Cincinnati home, went unanswered.
Ohio’s Warren County Democratic Party Chairwoman Bethe Goldenfield is quoted in Cincinnati.com saying, “I’ve been trying to recruit him for several months, and I feel like Aftab is the right candidate for the right time.” She believes Pureval has more name recognition than other Democrats who are already in the primary race.
The deadline for candidates to file their run for the Democratic primaries is Feb. 7. If Pureval signs up for it, he will face-off first against Democrats Rabbi Robert Barr and Laura Ann Weaver, in the May 8 Democratic primary. Barr revealed he has already raised $230,000, Cincinnati.com reported.
Even if Pureval wins the primary, he will have a hard time defeating Chabot, who has been in office for several terms barring once in 2008. In fact, Democrats hold only 4 Congressional seats in Ohio to the 12 held by Republicans.
But Raghavan is optimistic. “At a time when so many voters are eager to elect fresh new leaders, he has a great shot — especially since in his last election he won a seat that has historically been held by Republicans,” Raghavan told Desi Talk.
As of Jan. 12, the Cook County Political Report puts Chabot’s District 1, as “Likely Republican,” and not among the “solidly” Republican category. It describes the “Likely” category as follows – “These seats are not considered competitive at this point, but have the potential to become engaged.”