Amardeep Kaleka, son of Sikh Temple of Wisconsin President Satwant Singh Kaleka who was killed by a white supremacist during last year’s mass shooting in Oak Creek, has announced that he is planning a run for US Congress as a Democrat, hoping to challenge his district’s incumbent Representative Paul Ryan (who also was Republican Mitt Romney’s running mate during the Presidential election last year):
Kaleka said he wants to bring accountability and transparency back to Washington. He blamed the government shutdown on Ryan, who’s the House Budget Committee chairman, and his GOP colleagues. He said citizens are tired of career politicians who care more about staying in power than serving the people.
“There’s a fever in the nation, and specifically in this district, for our leaders to stop playing politics and do their jobs,” Kaleka said. “All I want to do is bring democracy — a government of, for and by the people — back to America.”
Since the mass shooting last year, Amardeep Kaleka has prominently engaged in interfaith initiatives, and in support of greater gun control. However, it will be no small task to mount a challenge to Paul Ryan, who has held this seat for 14 years and who is already financially establishing himself for another strong campaign.
Before Kaleka can challenge Ryan, he must emerge from the Democratic primary process as the party’s nominee for the district. For that nomination, he will face last year’s Democratic Party nominee Rob Zerban, who recently also announced his intention to run against Ryan as well:
Ryan beat Zerban last year 55 percent to 43 percent, marking Ryan’s smallest margin of victory since he first won his congressional seat in 1998. The race came just two years after Ryan posted his most dominant victory with 68 percent of the vote.
But Ryan was and remains a formidable fundraiser, having brought in $4.9 million during the last race compared to $2.3 million for Zerban. In the third quarter of 2013, Ryan raised $824,000 and now has $2.6 million in the bank — both significant amounts, especially for a non-election year.
Running in what was one of the most expensive congressional races in the country last year, it is obvious that this will be a large hill to climb for Kaleka, however it is inspiring to see him proceed with this challenge undaunted, and especially as a message to those who sought to marginalize his community.
Amardeep Kaleka is to appear on CNN this evening during Anderson Cooper 360 at 8 PM/10 PM Eastern time or 5 PM/10 PM Pacific time, when he will discuss his intention to run for Congress (UPDATE: Apparently, the interview has been cancelled).