Former Indian-American state rep. considering run for U.S. Congress from Ohio

Former Ohio State Rep. Jay Goyal, currently president of Goyal Industries of Mansfield, Ohio. (Photo: Twitter)

An Indian-American who was among the youngest lawmakers in the Ohio State House, says he is considering a run for the U.S. Congress to fill a seat being vacated by a Republican, after being approached by some Democrats.

Following Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s announcement Jan. 5, that the special election to fill the District 12 seat, would be held Aug. 7, the Columbus Dispatch reported that Jay Goyal, 37, of Mansfield, Ohio, has been approached by “top” Democrats to run in the Democratic primary. District 12, is currently held by Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, who announced last October that he will be quitting Congress end of January to head the Columbus Business Roundtable.

Goyal, who was 26 when he was first elected in 2006, and served three terms from 2007-2013, is seen as a good candidate to fill the seat because parts of the district fall in his old stomping grounds. Goyal also served as the State’s House Majority Leader for a period of time during his six years there.

“Some people have reached out to me and it’s something I  am giving thought to and will make a decision shortly,” Goyal told News India Times in a phone interview from Mansfield, Ohio.

He left in 2012 to help run the family business, Goyal Industries, a manufacturing concern that produces metal fabrications, and has already been taking the helm of the company, something that would greatly impact his decision.

The filing deadline for both the District 12 special election, and the November general election, is Feb. 7. Goyal will have to get through the May 8 primary where he faces a number of Democratic contenders already lined up to fight in the primaries. Ballotpedia’s “potential and declared” candidates list for the May 8 primaries includes five other Democrats and five Republicans.

Last November, just days after Tiberi’s announcement about leaving, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee listed District 12 among its targets for turning Red to Blue in the 2018 Congressional elections. But Ballotpedia lists it as “safely Republican,” and the Cook Political Report describes it as a “Solid Republican” district.

The Dispatch spoke to Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Jefferson Township, and Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady and “both said they would support the 37-year-old Goyal, saying the rising voter opposition to President Donald Trump could help Democrats win a seat held by the Republicans since 1982,” the Dispatch reported.

“He is brilliant, a hard worker, and I can’t imagine not ever being on the side of Jay Goyal in any race he was in,” Beatty is quoted saying. “I consider myself a godmother to Jay Goyal,” she added. She was the one who had recruited Goyal to run for the State House, she said.

O’Grady told the Dispatch the young Indian-American was a “prolific fundraiser” who “knows large chunks of this district very well, having represented” much of it while in the Ohio House.

The 12th District covers central Ohio and includes Delaware, Licking, and Morrow counties, sections of Franklin, Marion, Muskingum and Richland counties, some of the areas Goyal is familiar with because of his previous three terms in the House.

Sources also told the Dispatch that other top Democrats like Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein were interested in Goyal. This was not confirmed by News India Times.

Beating a Republican would be no easy task. District 12 has been in Republican hands since 2001, and in 2016, Tiberi won by a handy majority of nearly 67 percent. Goyal may well decide against competing despite his name recognition and the Cook Political Report and other analysts predicting a good year for Democrats, on Nov. 6.

Reluctant to hint at what his decision might be, Goyal nevertheless praised the achievements of the five Indian-Americans currently in Congress – Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, Ami Bera and Ro Khanna, D-California; Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illiois; and Senator Kamala Harris, D-California. Calling that an “absolute achievement” Goyal added, “They’re doing so well and they are already leaders.”

A graduate in industrial engineering from Northwestern University, with an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Goyal was recognized and received several awards including being listed in TIME Magazine” “Top 40 Under 40 Rising Stars of American Politics” and the New Leadership Council’s “Top 40 Under 40 Community Leaders in the United States.” Several organizations recognized him as Legislator of the Year; He was one of two members of the Ohio House of Representatives selected by a bi-partisan panel to receive a fellowship for the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development; he received the prestigious “Eagle Award” from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for his historic achievements in politics. During his term, Goyal was selected as an Honorary Member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

Technology and economic development had been his focus while in the state legislature.

He held several positions in the Democratic Party during his stint in the state House. The Democratic National Committee under then Chairman Tim Kaine (vice presidential candidate with Hillary Clinton), as At-Large member of the DNC, and in executive committees of the state Democratic Party.





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