Republican Ohio State Representative Niraj Antani, considered a rising star in GOP circles, Jan. 30 announced that he will run for state Senator in the 2020 election from District 6 to replace term-limited incumbent Peggy Lehner.
The Miamisburg-born and raised Antani, currently serving his third term in the Ohio House of Representatives, said, “having been born and raised in this community, I am running for state Senator to ensure every Ohioan who works for it has the opportunity to achieve their American Dream.”
In an interview with India Abroad, Antani said, “it’s an important opportunity for not only my service to the community, but also to make history as the first Indian American state Senator in Ohio.” Exuding confidence of being elected, he said it would also make him “the highest-ranking ever official in Ohio of Indian American descent.”
He did not want to name who is primary opponent would be but it’s no secret that it is fellow state Representative Jim Butler, Republican of Oakwood, whom Antani had accused last year of recruiting Miamisburg Vice Mayor Sarah Clark to run against him in the May 2018 primary ostensibly to clear his path for his state Senate run in 2020 to replace Lehner.
But despite all of Butler’s efforts, which resulted in Antani facing two Republicans in his primary running for re-election for his third term, Clark and Marcus Rech were no match for him and he routed them both.
In November 2018, Antani easily defeated Democrat Zach Dickerson to win re-election.
After Antani made his announcement, the local meida quoted Butler as saying that he was going to wait until the state budget is finalized before he decides whether to run and setting up a primary with Antani for the state Senate seat.
Antani who scrupulously did not mention Butler in his announcement, although he acknowledged that he expects a primary contest, said, “I fully expect the Republican primary election in March of 2020 to be one of the most competitive races in Ohio.”
Antani, who would have to raise about half a million dollars to run a viable campaign if Butler challenges him in the primary, said that the Indian American community, both in District 6 and across the state and country, are enthused by his decision to run. “As I’ve said, I would become the first Indian American state Senator in Ohio’s history.”
He said at age 27, he was still “the youngest Indian American elected official in the country and this is really about the future of our community.”
Antani said he did not expect any support or funding from the state GOP party because they are likely “to stay neutral through the primary. So, we have to do it all on our own.”
Antani acknowledged that he now has significant name recognition in the Indian American community in Ohio—a presidential swing state, which would be even more important in 2020—and also across the country “and the Indian American community support has been vital for my success.”
“I am proud to be a voice for all Indian Americans and hopefully will count on their support for the campaign,” he said.
Antani said that as a millennial Indian American role model his campaign would be “about the future of the Indian American community in the United States.”
He argued that the “prior Indian American immigrant generation set the foundation –they were the founders if you will—and it’s my job to carry on their legacy for their children and grandchildren.”
Often cited as the youngest member of the Ohio State Assembly, being elected at age 23, from the Dayton 42nd District constituency in 2014 and then being unanimously re-elected since, Antani, cut his teeth in politics, interning for U.S. Congressman Mike Turner is his district office in Dayton, after which he was bitten by the public service bug in the political arena.
In January 2015, he was named by the conservative Newsmax media organization, which has a popular online website, magazine and television channel, as the second most influential Republican under 30 in the US. This was a part of
their 30 most influential Republicans 30 and under list.
He was also named to Forbes Magazine’s list of the top ‘30 Under 30’ people in the United States for Law and Politics in 2015, and also named to the ‘Top 30 Conservatives Under Age 30 in the United States’ list by Red Alert Politics, another influential conservative website.
In 2013, the Montgomery County Republican Party named him the
‘Republican Man of the Year.’