A Strong Candidate with Strong Results

In a day and age where it’s hard to distinguish politics from reality television, Aftab Pureval’s bid for Congress stands out as a singular rarity. A career civil servant, Aftab lacks the sense of celebrity that many would-be political candidates boast today. But that doesn’t mean Aftab isn’t well known, especially in his own district, Ohio’s 1st. In fact, Aftab made local headlines when he pulled off a stunning upset in the election for Hamilton County clerk just two years prior. And while his opponent in November, longtime conservative incumbent Steve Chabot, doesn’t think much of Aftab, there’s a lot for him to worry about. And it comes down to Aftab’s background, track record, and policies.

While Aftab might not have much name recognition outside of Ohio, his story is a unique one that sets him apart from many of his competitors. In many ways, Aftab is the embodiment of the American dream. His mother famously escaped on foot from Tibet and Communist persecution, before attending university in India, where she met Aftab’s father. After relocating to America and having Aftab, their son attended the University of Ohio, serving as the student body president. While such a move might portend future political ambitions, Aftab put politics on hold following his graduation. After receiving a law degree from the University of Cincinnati, Aftab moved to D.C., where he worked pro-bono for battered women. It wasn’t until 2016 where Aftab made his political ambitions clear, winning the position of Hamilton County clerk — the first Democrat to do so in over one hundred years.

But it was what Aftab did once he received that clerkship that’s so important. Aftab made a priority of paying his employees a living wage, and was the first county office holder to offer paid family leave. Aftab also launched a new county court website along with a legal Help Center, collecting all the resources that a defendant would need to represent themselves in court. While all this might sound like a recipe for blowing a hole in the local budget, through ending nepotism and cutting waste, Aftab has been able to save the county government $900,000. And in the process, Aftab has won nearly universal support in his role.

But it’s not just Aftab’s past that should make Chabot worried. As Aftab said when he announced his candidacy, “Donald Trump is not on the ballot in 2018. But members of Congress like Steve Chabot who have been doing his bidding without objection — you had better believe they are on the ballot in 2018.” And Chabot has voted in line with the White House an astounding 94.9% of the time. Moreover, these votes — from repealing the Affordable Care Act, to rolling back Dodd-Frank protections, to passing an onerous tax bill — seem aimed at helping big businesses and top earners at the expense of regular Americans. Considering that Chabot’s biggest donor is American Financial Group, a multi-billion dollar financial services company, this is hardly surprising.

And voters are beginning to take notice. Despite redistricting efforts to “secure” Cabot’s seat after having been briefly voted out of office in 2010, Cabot is feeling the pressure. Real Clear Politics has put Ohio’s 1st District a toss up, one that’s leaning left.