House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan already has a challenger for his seat in 2014: Amar Kaleka, the 35-year-old son of slain Sikh leader Satwant Singh Kaleka. Kaleka's dad died last August when Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist, walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and killed six people. The younger Kaleka, like most Americans, blames Ryan and the House GOP for the current partial government shutdown. He'll file his paperwork to run against Ryan on Wednesday.
Kaleka told the Associated Press that his candidacy has the support of the Democratic National Committee, meaning he's expecting some financial support to combat Ryan's already formidable fundraising for 2014. His campaign, in general, is a pitch to elect an anti-politics politician, the Democratic version of a strategy that worked pretty well for Ryan's Tea Party cohort in Congress. Here's what he told the AP:
“There’s a fever in the nation, and specifically in this district, for our leaders to stop playing politics and do their jobs...All I want to do is bring democracy — a government of, for and by the people — back to America.”
Kaleka, a documentary filmmaker, also isn't the biggest fan of Obama right now, as the president never ended up visiting the site of the mass shooting at the Sikh temple, which was founded and run by Kaleka's dad. Kaleka is strongly pro-gun control, and was further frustrated by the failure of Congress to pass gun reform legislation in the wake of the Newtown shootings, several months before the Wisconsin tragedy that took his father's life. "They’re more concerned with the groups, the corporations that are giving them money than with what the people want," he added.
Ryan usually has an easy time winning re-election — he's in his eighth term. Kaleka's campaign against the congressman will get going in November, a year before Ryan faces the polls once more.
(photo: Reuters. Amardeep Kaleka with his family)