Rep. Paul Ryan has a new challenger in next year’s congressional election — Amar Kaleka, the son of a slain Sikh temple president.
Kaleka, a Democrat, announced that he’ll file paperwork Wednesday to create an exploratory congressional committee and plans to formally announce his candidacy in November.
“There’s a fever in the nation, and specifically in this district, for our leaders to stop playing politics and do their jobs,” Kaleka told The Associated Press. “All I want to do is bring democracy — a government of, for and by the people — back to America.”
Kaleka’s father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was one of six people killed on Aug. 5, 2012 when a white supremacist opened fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin before taking his own life. A small-business owner, Satwant Kaleka also founded the Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee.
While the 35-year-old Emmy award-winning filmmaker contemplated a later career in politics, Kaleka said the shooting massacre and the murder of his father became a turning point for him. But he said he is not looking for any sympathy votes.
“I’ll agree my father’s death has put me in a position where people listen to me more,” Kaleka said. “But it’s not that I’m taking advantage of hat situation. I’m trying to further his dream of building the community and leading in a way that’s very democratic. That’s what drives me.”
Running on a platform of bringing accountability back to Washington, Kaleka blamed the government shutdown on Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues, accusing the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee of caring more about politics than serving his constituents.
Kaleka acknowledged taking on the well-known congressman will be a tough feat; Ryan’s campaign has already raised $1.7 million in the first six months of the year.
Although Ryan has served eight terms in Congress, public support for Ryan has waned especially in the last year. Ryan — who had to balance his own re-election campaign with a vice presidential campaign — only won by 12 points at 55%, a dip from his 68% vote in 2010.