Niraj Antani, 25, whose passion is “politics, politics, politics” and who rarely takes a day off, was sworn-into his second term as Ohio State Representative from District 42, Jan. 3.
As the only Indian-American in the state House, Antani says more Republican Indian-Americans need to be elected to state and federal levels in coming years to bring about the change needed in the country.
Antani lauded the five Indian-American Democrats sworn-in the same day on Capitol Hill, “But as one of just two Indian-Americans, soon to become one when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is sworn-in as Ambassador to the United Nations, we need more Republicans elected to Congress,” Antani told Desi Talk. “We need more people who can effect change,” he added.
Speaking to Desi Talk just three hours before he was sworn-in at the State House, Antani said his priorities will be to make sure his district gets adequate funds to meet its needs when the two-year budget is passed.
Antani, who was sworn into office in 2014 to become the youngest member of the 131st Ohio General Assembly, answering a question about his interests outside politics, said during an interview with Ohiobar.org, “Politics, politics and politics. I’m a little bit of a workaholic. People say, “Well, how’d you get elected at 23?” Well, you work 15 hours a day, every day,” Antani said.
Despite his youth, Antani engaged the political system early. In 2007, at 16, he worked in U.S. Congressman Mike Turner Dayton, Ohio office. In 2009, he worked for then State Representative – now State Senator – Peggy Lehner. In 2010, he worked for then Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Washington, D.C.
In 2012, during Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign for president, Antani worked for the Ohio State Director and Senior Adviser to the campaign.
His hard work paid off with a smooth ride back to the Assembly.
Antani’s other priorities besides getting the budget passed to his district’s advantage, is to tackle the “big drug epidemic” in his constituency. “Montgomery has the 2nd highest heroin overdose rate in the state,” he said.
His third priority, he said was workforce issues, noting that a large number of skilled jobs are going a-begging. “So we have to work for increasing skills training,” he said.
Antani, whose role model is U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam War hero and long time legislator, told Ohiobar.org he would like to emulate the legislative accomplishments of the senior senator from Arizona.
“John McCain is the reason I’m a republican. Growing up without a political background, you don’t know where you stand,” and even though he figured out his conservative positions on taxes and size of government and became a Republican on his own, he said, “No one talks better about being an American than John McCain.”
“Here’s a guy who ran for president, and served, he was a POW, and he is the architect of many things we have today,” Antani is quoted saying.
According to his website, Antani was named to Forbes Magazine’s list of the top “30 Under 30” people in the United States for Law & Politics in 2015. In 2016, Newsmax named his the 2nd most influential Republican under 30 in the United States. In addition, he was named to the “Top 30 Conservatives Under Age 30 in the United States” list by Red Alert Politics. In 2013, the Montgomery County Republican Party named him the “Republican Man of the Year.” Antani told Desi Talk he foresees more Indian-American participation of Indian-Americans across the country.
Antani has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from The Ohio State University. He was born and raised in Miami Township. He is a member of the National Rifle Association and volunteers for Dayton Right to Life.
He chairs the Ohio Republican Party Asian Pacific American Advisory Council.