TRENTON – A South Jersey engineer inspired to get into politics by former President Donald Trump hopes the fourth time’s the charm as he bids for the Republican nomination for governor.

Hirsh Singh, 36, of Linwood said he thinks his conservative politics are the best fit for the GOP primary and that his family’s heritage in India can help him connect with communities in New Jersey that typically stick with Democrats – if, of course, he can get finally win in June.

“I first got involved in the political arena in 2017 because I was inspired by President Trump’s proof that you can beat the corruption that is in government,” Singh said.

Singh ran for governor in 2017, finishing third in the primary with 10% of the vote. He intended to run for U.S. Senate in 2018 but withdrew to instead run for the House in the 2nd Congressional district, then finished second in the primary with 30%. He ran for Senate last year, finishing a close second in the primary with 36% of the vote.

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Singh said the only way to learn to campaign effectively is by running.

“And you could say that 2017 was an amazing learning process because people don’t usually realize how different this state is, how each county is its own complete different realm,” Singh said.

Singh is one of two candidates to qualify for the official gubernatorial debates by virtue of raising enough money to clear a viability threshold. But most of what he has raised – nearly $428,000 of $527,000 – comes from the candidate and his family.

Asked what sets him apart in the four-candidate Republican field, Singh cited the former president.

“I’m the only candidate who’s been with President Trump from the beginning,” he said. “I’m the only one who voted for President Trump both in 2016 and in 2020. I’m the only one who has had a consistent conservative message to the people.”

Singh said the biggest issues facing the state are election integrity, illegal immigration and property taxes. The tax issue can be best addressed by replacing the school-funding formula and redistributing state aid, he said.

“I would take that $14.5 billion, divide it evenly by every student K-12 and make sure that parents are allowed to decide if they want to send that kid to a public school or a more local charter school, private school parochial school,” Singh said. “And wherever that parent wants to send that kid, the money follows the parent.”

Singh said schools need to be refocused solely on reading, writing, math and critical thinking, not social issues. He said he would block critical race theory and LGBTQ+ lessons from school curriculum.

“Any school that’s going to be pushing propaganda and enforcing indoctrination, I’m going to actually cut their state funding. I will not allow kids to be taken advantage like this,” said Singh, who similarly said he would revoke aid from cities with sanctuary-style policies protecting unauthorized immigrants.

Singh attended the New Jersey Institute of Technology and earned an engineering degree. He said he has been working for over a decade in federal contracting in areas such as civil aviation, aviation safety, security, missile defense, satellite navigation and even clinical trials of gene therapy for retinoschisis.

He is the youngest candidate in the race but said he thinks voters are “really looking for that next generation of conservative leadership.”

“Most candidates and campaigns, you see people my age behind the scenes running the show, and the candidates just tend to be like figurehead or puppets,” Singh said. “And in this case, we’re basically just cutting out the middle man, and we’re allowing basically those that have the critical thinking capability and the energy to be the candidate.”

Singh’s family emigrated from India, starting with his grandfather, who settled in Lakewood. His parents moved from the Trenton area to Atlantic County, and Singh lived in Galloway and Egg Harbor townships before moving to Linwood.

He said both of his grandfathers were members of Parliament in India – one in the appointed upper house, one in the elected lower house. His great-grandfather in World War II served under General Bernard Montgomery in the Eighth British Army and was known as the ‘Tiger of Italy.’

“It’s just that I come from a long line of public service and political service that I think it’s kind of in me to try and make things go in the right direction,” Singh said.

Singh said he can connect with Asian-Indians, given his personal background.

“A lot of them are in bubbles in certain parts of the state where they have historically believed that Democrat means democracy but that Republican was kind of racist. And that’s actually the opposite of the Republican Party foundation and history,” he said. “So, I’m trying to also make sure I educate them because they also believe in lower taxes and equality.”

Singh said there are “many communities that are registered Democrat but have very conservative values” to which he can make a strong case, such as voters of Hispanic, Filipino, Chinese and Korean descent.

“Historically, the only method that Democrats use to take on a Republican is to call them racist,” Singh said. “And they can’t really do that in a strong fashion because, you known, plain and simple I don’t fit that mold.”

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