By: Sean Coit
Manan Trivedi is a new face and a relative unknown in Pennsylvania politics, but the Berks County Democrat appears poised to mount a serious campaign in his first foray into the political realm. He joined PoliticsPA to discuss his young campaign and his high-profile race for the Democrats’ nod in Jim Gerlach’s 6th district.
“It’s been a great experience so far,” Trivedi said. “We’ve gotten 200 different donors, and people calling from all over the district and even the country. I think people are connecting with my story and my message. It’s kind of like I was shot out of a cannon, and hopefully I’m going in the right direction.”
Trivedi, whose previous experiences (he is an Iraq veteran and an emergency room physician) appear tailor-made for the 2010 election cycle, said that seeking political office had always enticed him, but felt that this cycle was the right opportunity to jump in.
“I’ve had an interest in policy for a long time, and after I finished my training in medicine, I went and got a master’s in public policy,” Trivedi said. “I think that serving in a public office is still a noble profession, and I often felt that our lawmakers lacked insight and perspective. I feel I have that perspective from my life experiences – from serving in Iraq and serving as a primary care physician in inner city clinics’ emergency rooms.”
Trivedi’s campaign experience stems from his connections to the Berks County Democrats organization, which forms the base of his supporters. Working with the local group, Trivedi worked his way up through the Obama campaign’s Pa. offices, doing everything from door-to-door canvassing to advising on health care policy.
Standing in his way, though, is a formidable opponent in the Democratic primary. Former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Doug Pike, who began his official campaign months ago, already has a substantial head-start financially, and will draw heavily upon his own personal fortune to support his campaign.
Pike, who boasts better name recognition than Trivedi, has also received key endorsements from local politicians, including nearby US Reps. Chaka Fattah, Patrick Murphy, and Allyson Schwartz.
“Doug Pike has endorsements, but he got every single one before I came into the field here, and we saw some blog reports that some have even taken their names off the list,” Trivedi said. “Some others have actually told me that they wish they had known I was going to run earlier.”
Democrat Bob Roggio, who ran against Jim Gerlach for the 6th district seat in 2008, had originally planned to endorse Pike, but then switched his support to Trivedi.
On the issues, Trivedi seems to take the careful, academic-style approach that he honed during his academic and medical training.
“In medicine, we have evidence-based medicine, and the concept is that you pick your treatment modality based on large scale trials and research,” Trivedi said. “We choose the method that works because of the evidence, yet DC is a very evidence-free zone. Why can’t we have evidenced base policy?”
“I am strongly in favor of health care reform and reform now. I know firsthand and from research that it is simply unsustainable in its current state,” Said Trivedi. “Without a strong public option, there’s no way to reign in costs and hold insurers fee to the fire.”
As long as the health care debate continues, Trivedi is sure to tout his background in health care, but as the war in Afghanistan becomes a more prominent campaign issue, expect Trivedi to voice his seasoned opinion on US military strategy in the Arab world.
“I’ve been trying to talk about Afghanistan a lot more than other people have,” Trivedi said. “I was talking about it with my friends and colleagues this summer. By August this year we have lost more guys in Afghanistan than any other year.”
“I’m very concerned with what our long and short term goals are there. I have yet to see a well-articulated plan that says what our ultimate goals are and what the metrics are that we’re using to measure our progress,” Trivedi said. “What are our benchmarks? I haven’t seen that yet. Just like the health care debate, with Afghanistan, let’s simplify this and understand what our mission is.”
Trivedi’s mission is also simple. But, to win in the primary against Pike, he will have to garner overwhelming popular support despite Pike’s strong support from the local political establishment.