Education Funding Keys Jay Chaudhuri’s North Carolina State Senate Bid

Jay Chaudhuri, shown with his wife, Sejal Mehta, their two children and their Labrador dog, has announced his candidacy for a state Senate seat in Wade Country, North Carolina. (Jay Chaudhuri campaign photo)

Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2015 10:30 am

Attorney Jay Chaudhuri, who May 1 resigned as general counsel to North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell, announced a bid June 2 to win election as the Democratic Party nominee May 3, 2016, for state Senate District 16 seat in Wade County, N.C.

The Indian American candidate told India-West June 9 that education is the overriding issue in his campaign.

The Republican-dominated General Assembly in North Carolina, he charged, has “not made its focus on investing in public education.”

“Teachers are leaving (North Carolina) for other states,” he said, adding that he views public education funding as “investing dollars in economic development.”

Other planks of his campaign platform include addressing “economic inequalities,” “the importance of an open and honest government” and economic growth, he amplified.

Chaudhuri is seeking a seat currently held by state Senator Josh Stein, a Democrat expected to announce any day a bid for state attorney general. Incumbent Attorney General Roy Cooper will run for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2016.

Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., and a resident of Cameron Village in Raleigh, with his wife, Sejal Mehta, a former New York prosecutor, and their two children, Chaudhuri has an extensive background in state government.

In addition to serving as general counsel and a policy adviser to Cowell, he was also Cooper’s special counsel and legislative counsel when Cooper was state Senate Majority Leader.

Before that, Chaudhuri clerked for now Chief Judge Linda McGee of the North Carolina Court of Appeals and was Jacob K. Javits Fellow for former U.S. Sen. Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin.

He is the first candidate who has announced in the race, but he expects more Democrats to announce in the Democratic-leaning district. Stein captured 67.1% of the votes in 2014 against the GOP challenger.

Chaudhuri told India-West that he believes he will need to raise at least $500,000 to run a viable campaign, since Stein amassed more than $350,000 when he ran in 2008. He will concentrate his efforts in the district and in North Carolina, but he will seek donations from the Indian American community, he added.   

Chaudhuri has already raised $105,041 from 113 donors in the first 10 days of the campaign, he announced in his June 2 press release. About 70% of the donors live in North Carolina and many contributors are making their first donation to a state campaign.

Chaudhuri’s parents, Debi and Mithu Chaudhuri, left India 50 years ago and settled in Fayetteville, N.C., where his father worked at the Veteran Administration Hospital.

Chaudhuri graduated from Davidson College in Charlotte, N.C., the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs in New York and the North Carolina Central University School of Law.

Cowell, the first woman elected state treasurer in North Carolina, said in an endorsement statement, “I’m proud to support (Chaudhuri) because of his long and distinguished record of public service and his gift for bringing people together to get things done. He’s exactly the type of person we need in office right now.”

Chaudhuri said in the press release that, while serving as general counsel to Cowell, he helped recover more than $100 million for state pension and unclaimed property funds and led efforts to establish the first ever Innovation Fund, a $230 million fund to support and invest in businesses with significant operations in North Carolina.

His board service includes: the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Community Leadership Council; the North Carolina Central University School of Law Board of Visitors; Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Science; and the Raleigh Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Board.



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