SM Reader (and my cousin) Manan Trivedi for Congress (PA-6)

I have been waiting all summer to do this post and would have posted yesterday (right as the gag was lifted) if not for the fact that I was en-route back from a vacation. My cousin Manan officially hopped in to the race for U.S. Congress from the 6th district of Pennsylvania as a Democratic candidate. This district stretches from the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia into Mennonite country toward the middle of the state where Manan grew up (Fleetwood, Pa). The incumbent here is Republican Jim Gerlach, but he is set to vacate the office at the end of this term to run for Governor. Thus, it is an open seat that the DCCC really really wants in a district that leaned Obama in 2008.

This is a new kind of political post for me here on SM because it’s the first time I have “skin in the game” with regards to a candidate I am writing about. What I can tell you about Manan is that he regularly reads Sepia Mutiny and sends me tips all the time on various political stories. While practicing medicine at UCLA he also took policy classes with our blogger Taz and he earned a Mater’s degree in Public Policy. He is pretty much a health care policy wonk that just finished a stint with the Surgeon General of the Navy’s Office. Oh, he is also a medical doctor and a Marine Devil Doc that served on one of the first ground units to enter into Iraq in 2003. He treated (on both sides) a lot of the worst kinds of injuries that you might expect to see when you are on one of the first units in to a war. Manan received the Combat Action Ribbon and his unit also received the Presidential Unit Citation.

“I was raised in this district by working-class parents and experienced what many families are going through now with the loss of their jobs and their pensions. But I also learned the importance of serving others and working hard for things that matter. These principles have guided my career, from the battlefield to the emergency room,” said Trivedi.

“I am now prepared to serve my community in a new capacity: in the halls of Congress. We have some big challenges facing our nation. Our health care system is broken, we’re engaged in two wars, and our economy continues to struggle. I know how to get things done under extremely difficult situations, and my direct experience with these challenges will give the working families in my district a strong and credible voice in Washington,” Trivedi concluded. [Link]

So what lies ahead for Manan? A really tough primary challenger in Democrat Doug Pike who comes with a lot of money. Pike was a former aide to Senator Paul Tsongas back in the 1980s. He later wrote editorials for The Orlando Sentinel and served on the editorial board of The Philadelphia Inquirer for 14 years. The fact that he was a reporter for all those years pumping out stories makes him very susceptible to Republican attacks in the general election. The other thing working both for and against Pike is his personal wealth:

Pike has indicated that he plans to spend $1 million of his own money on the campaign – an obviously very consequential sum that guarantees that he remains a force to be reckoned with no matter which other Democrats jump in the race. Pike’s fortune, more than any other attribute, is likely to get the DCCC to take him seriously. After all, the national party and local committees are always looking for candidates who are rich enough to buy themselves a congressional seat (see Scott Murphy) – quite an unfortunate reality, especially considering that many politicians who come in office in such conditions, like Jon Corzine, are far from the most successful, qualified or popular of politicians. [Link]

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p>So here are the cold hard facts about running for a congressional seat that most SM readers already know: it takes money. If, at regular intervals, you don’t show you are collecting enough donations you fall further behind in terms of support from the party establishment (e.g. DCCC). Both parties take safe bets instead of assessing how welll a candidate might actually do with, you know, policymaking (see Blue Dogs). What Manan needs now is as much support as he can get before the next fundraising reports are due in roughly three weeks (end of September). If any of you are excited about this South Asian candidate and veteran then you can see his website for instructions on how you can get involved. If you want to know more about him or his background you can email me. If you are in the South Asian media (or any media for that matter) and need help getting in touch with Manan you can also contact me at abhi [at] sepiamutiny.com and I can help facilitate.

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p>This will be the first of many posts I do following Manan’s campaign.

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60 thoughts on “SM Reader (and my cousin) Manan Trivedi for Congress (PA-6)

  1. As a South Asian-American, I want to support a South Asian candidate but as a local 6th District voter, I want to speak up about your negative characterization of Pike’s candidacy. I have met with Doug Pike, who has been campaigning progressively and successfully for 5 months in the 6th District. He has done all the local politics, even in Trivedi’s home town, where Pike has the support of the Mayor, for example. It is not a good idea for us as South Asians to support candidates simply because of who they are. We have to be more sophisticated and look realistically at their chances at winning. Does it make sense for us to invest our time and money in a candidate who has no support locally and whose only campaign strategy is to raise money from the South Asian community? No.

    As a proud supporter of Raj Goyle’s congressional run in Kansas, I know that it takes time to lay the groundwork for a political run for office. For him, and for Trivedi, the sky is and should be the limit. But, they have to be smart about planning long-term strategies to create the local and political groundwork for these races. It’s too bad Trivedi has not done so.

  2. As a South Asian-American, I want to support a South Asian candidate but as a local 6th District voter, I want to speak up about your negative characterization of Pike’s candidacy

    Beware anonymous comments from people pretending to be something they may not be.

    This is typical politics. “He cut in line. It wasn’t his turn.” We’ve heard this story before.

  3. If one waits till everything is in ones favor, there is no game. No competing ideas. Many thought Obama was too early to compete for the Presidency. I wish good luck for Trivedi.

  4. You don’t have to take my word for it. Do your own research on the candidates and the race before investing in candidates. It is the only rational and smart way to do it. I have been a supporter of many South Asian candidates including the campaigns of Raj Goyle in Kansas, Jay Goyal in Ohio, Kamala Harris in California, and Raja Krishnamoorthi in Illinois. All are folks I encourage you to read about. As a community, we need to be smart — just like the candidates need to be — in how we allocate resources.

    Time and time again we see South Asian candidates raise money from our community without getting involved locally first and we’ve seen some disastrous results. I strongly urge everyone to ask about campaign strategy (how they plan to win), who they are running against (in primaries and the general election), and what type of a political operation they are running (volunteer? paid professionals?). Otherwise, it can be very painful to watch your time and money go down the drain.

  5. Manan looks like a great candidate and obviously the poster is bias, but haven’t we all learned in politics that you need to invest in a community, you need to work the ground game, and we need to be more sophisticated when it comes to running for federal office. So many, far too many South Asians running for Congress because they feel they are qualified and maybe it’s a bit of the status that is associated with it.
    Manan Trivedi has a good story and is an impressive individual, but it seems to be an uphill fight as he’s entering the race late and challenging a candidate, Doug Pike, who has received the endorsement of party leaders and unions in the area. Now maybe he beats the odds and wins, but why not State Senate or State House. Ashwin Madia’s race showed that with a great story, a good candidate, and hard work you can be a viable candidate for Federal Office – but that is the exception rather than the rule. Not to mention a caucus system really help him advance. Jay Goyal, Raj Goyle, Nikki Haley, Swati Dandekar, and Raja Krishnamourthi show that working within the system, getting key support, and working within the community will get you further than not. Going back where he grew up, talking to community leaders, raising support within the district and not jumping straight to Congress. There are only 8 state reps across the country. That’s where it starts. Maybe Manan will prove me wrong, but looks like another desi candidate with a lot of potential, that will raise brown money, and fall just short – which further burns all these south asian donors who get so invested in these races and lose yet again. It’s going to be dangerous when we finally have a viable candidate who is running for Congress like Jay and Raj and the donors are too burned out to support them. Very dangerous indeed.

  6. jaya on September 9, 2009 01:35 PM · Direct link Isn’t there conflict of interest here?

    Just keep things in perspective – this is, as the Posters / Moderators say often, just a private voluntary blog, and not a real news organization. The ethics of news organizations do not apply, nor should they. It is perfectly respectable for them to promote whoever they want.

    That said its also nice to see comments like ChiTown Brown and APA for Pike provide context and remind readers to think twice before putting in money.

  7. How is being one of the first soldiers to have invaded Iraq a qualification for a Democratic candidate, except on the most cynical of grounds?

  8. That said its also nice to see comments like ChiTown Brown and APA for Pike provide context and remind readers to think twice before putting in money.

    It is also important to keep in mind that anonymity on the internet (and especially on political sites) allows people to hide any ulterior motives they might possess. Unlike the anonymous commenters above you know exactly who I am, where I stand, and why.

    There will always be naysayers and people who believe you have to be part of the political machine for years (“paying your dues”) before you can run. Not sure that is the model the founding fathers had. There is nothing wrong with being smart and capable and deciding to run without working at spinning all the wheels of power. Manan grew up in the PA 6th all the way through high school. There are hundreds of local boy comes home to run for office successfully stories in American Politics. In contemporary times our frame of reference has changed quite a bit. A career politician (or the offspring of a career politician) is what folks are getting more used to now.

  9. How is being one of the first soldiers to have invaded Iraq a qualification for a Democratic candidate, except on the most cynical of grounds?

    Try reading the post before comment vomiting. Thanks.

  10. It is also important to keep in mind that anonymity on the internet (and especially on political sites) allows people to hide any ulterior motives they might possess.

    oh come on. enough with the ad hominem against manan’s critics. surely, you can rebut their argument without gratuitous mudslinging.

  11. enough with the ad hominem against manan’s critics. surely, you can rebut their argument without gratuitous mudslinging.

    I don’t need to rebut their arguments. What makes you think that is my job? Still trying to see what you mean by “mudslinging.” I am stating a fact which is that on the internet an anonymous comment must always be seen for what it is. After 5 years of blogging that’s the one thing all of us at SM know well, raji.

  12. Aren’t we all anonymous on the web? Who is this “Abhi”? Does he exist& Is he a 14 year old girl in Long Island? OMG.

    It’s a deep question.

  13. Who is this “Abhi”? Does he exist& Is he a 14 year old girl in Long Island? OMG. It’s a deep question.

    I am glad I am not the only one thinking this. Sometimes I light a candle, close my eyes and think, “aren’t we all just a little bit Abhi?” And then I open my eyes and I’m a giant cockroach :)

  14. While practicing medicine at UCLA he also took policy classes with our blogger Taz and he earned a Mater’s degree in Public Policy. He is pretty much a health care policy wonk that just finished a stint with the Surgeon General of the Navy’s Office. Oh, he is also a medical doctor and a Marine Devil Doc that served on one of the first ground units to enter into Iraq in 2003.

    Awesome creds. Good luck to TrivediJi.

    And to the folks who are piling on the poster – conflict of this or that…

    “Stop being such [ Aasif Mandvi's quote at the end] about it.

  15. I don’t need to rebut their arguments. What makes you think that is my job?

    nothing is your job, but you chose to engage with those comments. since i understand this post as an argument for manan, if you want to convince those of us dems who are not his relatives why we should support him and not pike, rebutting those arguments would be helpful to manan’s case, rather than repeatedly accusing (either explicitly or with innuendo) those who make those arguments of bad faith, without any evidence.

    if this post is not making a case for manan, then i must have misread it. my apologies.

  16. Abhi – I’m not trying to make this a personal attack on your cousin. You have to support family. As someone who is interested in politics and follows desi candidates, I question why Manan Trivedi is just NOW getting into the race. It has been an open seat for quite sometime and he had months to meet with members of the community and get backing from the unions and representatives that represent the hard-working families of PA-6. Ashwin’s insurgent campaign even received these critical endorsements to win the primary. Manan seems to be an intelligent, capable, and driven individual. I like to support brown candidates, but why could Manan not run for the State House, County Council, or school board? Why jump to Congress? I wish him the best – I’ve supported Jay, Raj, Kumar, Ashwin, and even Jon Bedi financially – but I want to see my money go to candidates like these who are not reliant on brown money to win a seat and who work within the community to gain support – that helps make the viable.
    So Abhi pick and chose what you want out of my retort, but it does not address the basic fact that it’s another brown candidate with great potential swimming against the stream because they want to achieve the status of Member of Congress rather than State House rep. Doug Pike seems to have party support, labor, and money (not just his own) – hence this will be a tough race – what’s Manan’s plan to win beside reliance on brown money to gain him recognition? If he loses how that effect desi candidates with a legitimate shot to become the 3rd brown desi member of Congress?

  17. A non-gratuitous use of Kafka. Well done, Abhi.

    Two comments:

    1. Last I checked, there are two requirements to run for the House. Being a United States citizen and at least 25 are basically it. The rest, the voters can evaluate for themselves–and they should have the opportunity to do so.

    2. Lots of South Asian-American candidates fail, some win. It’s not throwing your money down the toilet to support a candidate you believe in, even if they don’t win or have a chance at winning. A candidate can add a lot to the dialogue by just being in the race–and having to run against a strong primary challenge makes the eventual candidate tougher and more ready to handle the general. And after losing a race or two, the candidate might just win one. I disagree with the notion that donors are so easily disheartened. I gave to Howard Dean and John Kerry–I still vote, and I still give.

    Go ‘head, Manan, participate in our democracy and share your ideas. It’s your right.

  18. I had no particular opinions about Manan to start. But with all the negative campaigning I see here, I think I will lend him my support (and money). ;-)

  19. Speaking as a Republican, watch out. 2010 is shaping up to be a disaster for the Democrats. Personally I doubt it’s the right time to jump in as a Democrat.

  20. I live in the 6th and don’t really read all the blogs, but was told to give my two cents because I’m retired military and this is an important race for the Democrats. Having read all the comments, and not having one singular candidate chosen, I am leaning towards Trivedi. Someone made a comment asking why it took so long for Trivedi to get involved. From what I read he was still in the navy, he couldn’t just get involved in a campaign while still serving, that doesn’t make sense from the question asker. Secondly, a comment was posted about Pike getting all the endorsements, leaving none for Trivedi, well if you’re the only person running at the time, you would get all the endorsements. Just like the lone elephant gets all the peanuts, Pike was by himself in this race for a while, no wonder he got all the endorsements.

  21. Abhi – I’m not trying to make this a personal attack on your cousin. You have to support family. As someone who is interested in politics and follows desi candidates, I question why Manan Trivedi is just NOW getting into the race.

    For the very same reason that I can’t run for office. It is called the Hatch Act (and if the military doesn’t fall under the Hatch Act it falls under something almost identical).

    Manan was a member of the armed forces until 8/31/09. So 9 days after he was legally allowed to he jumped in. How does that sound?

  22. Best of luck to Manan; his views on healthcare reform look pretty good (from what is there on his website) and this would be the key issue for me. Hope he does well.

    I have to say there are some really silly comments on this thread. I don’t get the criticism of his service record. The man was an Army doctor, went to a combat theatre, by all accounts saved lives and discharged his duties successfully and came home. What do people expect – for him to be ashamed of this or ignore it? Frankly, as a politician ifyou have such a record, you would be an idiot not to cite it. For those of us who have a service record and/or have family in the services this would almost always be seen as a desirably quality in a candidate.

  23. jaya on September 9, 2009 01:35 PM · Direct link
    
    Isn't there conflict of interest here? 
    

    Just keep things in perspective – this is, as the Posters / Moderators say often, just a private voluntary blog, and not a real news organization. The ethics of news organizations do not apply, nor should they. It is perfectly respectable for them to promote whoever they want.

    That said its also nice to see comments like ChiTown Brown and APA for Pike provide context and remind readers to think twice before putting in money. “

    I was saying its conflict of interest because this blog collects donations from its general readers to run it. Therefore,it would be nice to have both sides of the coin before this blog starts endorsing a political candidate. If it was a private blog I wouldn’t think there would be a conflict of interest.

  24. Wow another desi doc to join Charles W. Bhustani(R-LA) who gave the repuublican retort to Prez Bam tonight. If that sounds like a weird desi name its because he changed it from Chunky.

  25. As a member of DCCC, I have had a chance to meet and listen to both Doug Pike and Manan Trivedi. I enjoyed the fervor of Trivedi’s remarks more than I did Pike’s. I am a resident of the 6th, and may decide to work for his campaign. Pike’s money is certainly tempting — and may turn out to be the deciding factor — but, for now, I think I would rather have Dr. Trivedi as my rep.

  26. Good to see Indian-Americans serve in the military. There is a doctor in my area of Chicago of south asian descent and he to served in Iraq. He actually did a check up on Saddam.

    Wonder if these 2 know each other.

  27. Abhi – is your cousin going to apply for public funding ? I think you need a certain number of signatures.

    I still don’t understand how in a democracy a wealthy candidate can just out-fund his rivals, especially in smaller races.

  28. I’m not sure where some posters got the idea that Manan is “relying” on brown donors comes from. Manan is running a well orchestrated fundraising strategy that…yes…does also include South Asians. Not sure why anyone would have a problem with that.

  29. BTW — forgot to mention, I am not asian-american, nor were any of the people supporting Manan that I met. He was introduced, and is being endorsed, by Bob Roggio, the 2008 candidate for the 6th seat.

  30. I’m not sure where some posters got the idea that Manan is “relying” on brown donors comes from.

    not to mention abhi’s officially listed as wheatish

  31. How is being one of the first soldiers to have invaded Iraq a qualification for a Democratic candidate,

    well, with military credentials like that, who the hell would believe he’s a republican?

  32. Few things:

    1. ChiTown Brown – I understand that you support Manan in his run, but also question why run for Congress vs a local seat. I think the same could be asked of Douglas Pike. From perusing hise website, it seems that his resume consists of being a Tsongas staffer for his presidential bid 20 years ago and being a journalist/serving on the editorial board. I’m not even sure how many articles he has written. If it is a fair question for Manan, then I think it’s a fair question for Pike.

    2. Souch…stop being silly. Manan served our country and did his duty. Whether or not you agree with the Iraq War, please honor the service and sacrifice that our soldiers make. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents served in the war and did their duty. On top of that, Manan’s role as a soldier in the war was to give much needed medical care to our soldiers. You can criticize that, but you are being silly.

    3. Manan is more than qualified for this seat. He is a physician who understands health care policy and has been very active in the Navy as well in the Obama campaign in shaping healthcare policy. He understands the real world failures of our health care system. He has served our country in the military and understands the real world implications of going to war. He also grew up in the area, worked hard to get to where he is today, and has a much stronger appreciation of the needs of the 6th district than someone who has the ability to fund his campaign with1 million dollars with no real resume. At least on his website, I can’t determine how Pike earned this ability.

  33. Yeah, jumping on the first boat to join a war orchestrated by Republicans and politically leveraged for Republican ends really shores up his Democratic credentials. Or were you posting just to make fun of yourself?

    I think the point here was to convey that unlike many Republicans who are intent on a political career, Manan, actually did sign up and serve and not suddenly develop an anal cyst or discover ‘other priorities’ which would have excluded him from service chickenhawk style. A polemical point, I grant you, but one worth bearing in mind.

    From my personal experience; those who have experienced combat (either as troopers or up-close in another support role) despite having varying political views, as a rule, tend to be a lot less keen and do think twice before advocating any political action that shoves other people into combat.This doesn’t make them pacifists (far from it) and nor does it always apply but it is a phenomenon that I have noticed. So I think it is quite relevant in any candidate for public office who will have an influence on policy in this regard.

  34. Agreed – serving in the Armed Forces – Army, Navy or otherwise does not align you with any political party. Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Independents, etc all serve – it has nothing to do with which party is in office.

    Just because someone enrolls (before or during a war) does not even mean that they agree with the war or its political goals or ramifications. Many people enroll so that they can take advantage of economic and educational opportunities.

    There are simply those who are patriotic, and want to assist and take care of their fellow soldiers and citizens. Someone could be completely against the war, but still wish to apply their skills and abilities so that they can help save the lives of the wounded and those in need.

  35. None of you have answered the question.

    How is the experience of treating war wounds a qualification for drafting and voting on legislation?

  36. How is the experience of treating war wounds a qualification for drafting and voting on legislation?

    Ummm. Can you stop and ask yourself what the biggest issue in politics is today? Healthcare! He is a health care policy expert.

  37. Souch…He is a physician who understands health care policy. I don’t think anyone is saying that his only qualification is that he treated war wounds. It is the totallity of his experiences, his passion, intelligence, communication skills, war experience, health policy experience, patient care experience that make him qualified. Again…don’t be silly and talk as if you are talking to 5 year olds.

  38. Realistically, health care reform is not going to be a quick fix even if this bill passes. It is a process that is going to be tweaked over and over again. Additionally, no one is saying that is his only knowledge base…it may be his expertise, but he is no lightweight in other areas as well. I wonder what people think Pike’s qualifications are?

  39. How is the experience of treating war wounds a qualification for drafting and voting on legislation?

    well, you need to worry about him getting into the legislature first. its a republican district so his veteran status helps whereas the republicans will find it easier to peg pike as an antiwar wuss. (they’ll still try with manan but he doesn’t look french). half the 0.000001% of the population who will hold iraq war service against candidates will give him a pass because he served as an MD. sounds like a political winner.

  40. souch:

    clearly you are abhi, constantly bringing up manan’s war hero status but doing it in a critical way as to avoid appearng like manan’s using it for political gain while questioing his qualifications for “drafting and voting on legislation”, ie sublty highlighting the fact that he’s not a career-politcian.

    brilliant!

  41. Love ya Manju! …. Mean it!

    well he’s in ny too, so maybe you can see if he’s interested in playin doctor. he’s not a career doctor even, so maybe he’ll make some unorthodox moves youll like.