By Surekha Vijh
WASHINGTON: Aneesh Chopra, another Indian American rising star in the political arena, on Tuesday lost his bid for Democratic nomination for the post of Lt Governor in Virginia.
A former White House Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra lost to State Senator Ralph Northam, who secured 54 percent votes as compared to 46 percent by Chopra. Northam, a pediatric surgeon, has served in the State Senate since 2007, representing the 6th District in Hampton Roads.
“I want to congratulate Senator Ralph Northam on his victory tonight in the Democratic Primary. Senator Northam and his staff should be proud of their campaign,” said Chopra in a statement after his defeat.
“While this was not the result that we hoped for tonight — I look forward to coming together to ensure the Democratic ticket wins a clean sweep in November. The work to bring fairness, equality, and opportunity to Virginia continues,” he added.
Indian-Americans were following with a keen interest Chopra’s campaign to secure nomination..
Chopra enjoyed the backing of President Barrack Obama, former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, US Congressmen Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly and a long list of local Democratic politicians plus high-tech businessmen supporters.
He connected well with the creative class of high-tech industry that dominates northern Virginia. He also enjoyed good media relations. Comedy Central’s John Stewart called Chopra “the Indian George Clooney” during a television interview with the candidate
The state Lt. Governor is more important than ever because the Virginia State is half Republican and half Democrat. The Lt. Governor casts the tie breaking vote on legislation.
In the first and only televised debate between Chopra and Ralph Northam, Chopra scored a few points. He was a favorite of all minority groups, including Indian-Americans.
Chopra, a resident of Arlington, the former chief technology officer in the Obama Administration, served in a similar capacity for former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.
During the campaign, Chopra promised to take full advantage of the lieutenant governor’s position as a member of the Council on Virginia’s Future “to deliver a more effective and entrepreneurial government.” He said he would also get the state government to support Startup Virginia, an initiative he launched last year with Steve Case.
Born in 1972 in Trenton, New Jersey, the eldest son of Indian immigrants Ram and Neelam Chopra. Chopra grew up in West Windsor Township and attended West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South from 1986-1990.
In 2009, Chopra received the Alumni Achiever Award by the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District. He graduated with his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and his M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
He was elected as a Boys Nation Senator to represent American Legion Jersey Boys State in 1989. After his studies, Chopra was Managing Director for the Advisory Board Company, a health care think tank for hospitals and health systems. While there, he led the firm’s Financial Leadership Council and the Working Council for Health Plan Executives.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine appointed Chopra to be Virginia’s fourth Secretary of Technology. He served in this position until 2009 when he was selected by President Barack Obama to be the first “Chief Technology Officer” for the White House.
Aneesh Chopra is the first Indian American to contest from the commonwealth of Virginia. He follows the trend set by Dilip Singh Saund, the first ever Indian American Congressman (California), Governor (Louisiana) Bobby Jindal, Governor (South Carolina) Nicky Hailey, and Congressman Dr. Ami Bera (California).