WASHINGTON (TIP): Ashwani K. Jain, a young Indian American who held multiple roles during the Obama administration, plans to seek the Democratic nomination for Maryland governor next year with an expressly generational appeal for votes.
The 31-year-old son of Indian immigrants who grew up in Maryland, acknowledged in a campaign video that his youth and inexperience may turn off some voters, marylandmatters.org reported.
“I understand that some will say that this overly ambitious, eager millennial with a baby face and no elected experience is not qualified or ready for this position,” Jain said. But, he argued, “elective experience is not the only kind of experience that matters.”
“In a state that’s becoming younger and more diverse than ever before, voices like mine are growing in Maryland and deserve to be heard, because decisions made about us should not be made without us,” Jain asserted,
In his announcement speech, Jain noted that he would be the first millennial governor in the US and the first governor of color in Maryland.
Jain said that, if elected, he would seek to make state government policies more equitable, would promote diversity in his cabinet, and would seek to eradicate the influence of money in state government and politics.
He invoked Obama toward the end of his announcement speech. “Yes, it’s true that we are the underdogs in this election,” Jain said, “but history is shaped by underdogs and those who are told to wait in line ― including a former community organizer who said, ‘Yes, we can!’”
During the Obama administration Jain worked at the White House and in the Department of Health and Human Services.
A childhood cancer survivor, who said his illness gave him a higher purpose, Jain also served as director of outreach for the administration’s “cancer moonshot,” which was headed by then-vice president Joe Biden.
He recalled recovering in a hospital and watching young children die and their parents suffer financial ruin.
“I turned from survivor to advocate,” he said. “I found my purpose in public service.”
During an unsuccessful campaign for Montgomery County Council in 2018, Jain often told a story about being in the Make-a-Wish program, which grants children with grave illnesses a fantasy wish, Maryland Matters recalled.
Jain’s was to meet actor Denzel Washington ― a meeting that took place backstage in 2005 at a Broadway theater, where Washington was starring in a revival of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”
Jain has been a volunteer with the Make-a-Wish organization ever since ― and a poster of Washington as Caesar hung behind Jain during his announcement video last Wednesday, along with a printed sheet of computer paper that said, plainly, “Jain for Governor,” taped to a whiteboard.
Jain did not participate in Montgomery County’s public financing system for political candidates in 2018, and proved to be a skillful fundraiser, Maryland Matters noted.
He took in about $233,000 for his council race, including $47,000 from his own pocket. President Obama’s Housing and Urban Development secretary, Julian Castro, headlined a fundraiser for Jain during his 2018 campaign.
Earlier this year, closing out his campaign account and opening one for his gubernatorial bid, Jain forgave the $47,000 debt.