Indian-American state Senator Vin Gopal has been reelected for a third term in the New Jersey Senate, winning the most expensive legislative races in state history. The 38-year-old Democrat Senator defeated his Republican challenger, Steve Dnistrian, in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District on Tuesday, garnering nearly 60 per cent of the vote over Dnistrian and helping to flip control of both of the district’s Assembly seats for Democrats. Gopal is currently the youngest member of the New Jersey State Senate and the first South-Asian American to be elected to the Senate in the state’s history, according to his campaign.
Polls were open in at least 37 states of the US on Tuesday. New Jersey’s legislature comprises the state Senate and Assembly and has 120 members from 40 districts. Each district has one representative in the Senate and two in the Assembly that serve four- and two-year terms. All 120 seats are on the ballot in November’s general election, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper. The Republican-leaning 11th District had been a major focus of the Republicans this year, according to the New Jersey Monitor news portal, with Republicans hoping that a campaign centred on offshore wind and LGBTQ issues in schools would doom the Democrats.
Gopal’s seat in the district is one of the top targets of the Republican Party this year, according to the report. The contest was one of the most expensive legislative races in state history, according to nj.com news portal. By October, Democrats raised USD 3.4 million and spent USD 3.5 million, while Republicans raised only USD 460,339 and spent USD 444,970. Several outside groups also poured money into the battle, according to the report. Gopal, first elected in 2017 and reelected in 2021, received 58 per cent of the vote to 38 per cent for Dnistrian. He attributed his success to his constituent services and bipartisanship.
“You all tonight made history!” Gopal was quoted as saying in the report after the results were announced. Gopal currently chairs the Senate Education Committee and is the Senate Majority Conference Leader. He previously served as the Chair of the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, according to his campaign. He is also the Vice-Chair of the Senate Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee and a member of the Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he created a districtwide organisation of business, community, church, and nonprofit leaders to address the challenges of the coronavirus to the local economy.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Gopal holds a Masters in Public Administration from Rutgers University and a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University.