Solomon Rajput, a 27-year-old medical student at the University of Michigan, began his campaign for U.S. Congress about a month ago. He spoke about his campaign Tuesday night at a town hall event he co-hosted with the Young Democratic Socialists of America.
LSA junior Elias Khoury is the president of YDSA and helped organize the event. After hearing about Rajput’s campaign, Khoury said he wanted to get involved. Khoury was interested in the fact that Rajput is a primary challenger to incumbent U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor.
“I reached out to Solomon, who was accessible and easy to get in touch with,” Khoury said. “We were talking back and forth, and eventually we got him to come to one of our meetings, and he did a little presentation about what his canvas is all about. The vast majority of our membership were, more or less, on board. So, since then, we’ve been working pretty closely with him, and we decided it would be a nice idea to put this town hall together.”
Rajput began by speaking about his reasons for running. Currently, Rajput is taking a leave of absence from the University of Michigan Medical School in order to pursue his campaign. He said the main reason he got into the race was because of climate change, noting he has always been passionate about climate issues and wants to become a doctor in a green world.
“The number one reason why I got into this race was because of this little thing called climate change,” Rajput said. “It might kill us all if we don’t figure out what to do. … This baby step approach where we have a 90 year plan and we do something this year and then re-evaluate in 50 years when everyone else is dead, it’s not going to happen.”
LSA junior Rain Uddin decided to get involved in this campaign when she learned that Michigan’s 12th District was represented by a Democrat rather than a Democratic Socialist.
“I am really interested in seeing the progressive take this seat, especially in this district,” Uddin said. “I am a transfer here, and once I experienced the community it was shocking to me that we had such an established Democrat as our representative, so that’s the main reason that I am here.”
In an email, Kellie Lounds, the political director for Dingell’s campaign, said the congresswoman was focused on serving the people of the 12th District.
“Congresswoman Dingell is focused on continuing to lead the fight in Congress for quality, affordable healthcare, safeguarding the environment, strengthening affordable and accessible education, and delivering for hard-working men and women in Southeast Michigan,” Lounds wrote. “Across the 12th Congressional District, Mrs. Dingell talks with everyone, and has gone to hundreds of meetings and events – including events from Downriver communities to multiple events on UMich campus weekly. People who know her, know she is a fighter.”
As Rajput continued, he emphasized his various beliefs. He said he was focused on college debt and talked about more affordable or free college.
“How are we going to pay for it? Well, the answer is using the vast wealth and resources of the United States because we are a rich country,” Rajput said. “We are the richest country that has ever existed in the history of mankind, and we’re going around pretending that we are barely getting by. … We have so much money, but we keep spending it on dumb stuff.”
He shared a story about a woman he met during his campaign. She mentioned she was married, but that it was not a romantic marriage. When applying to college, she got married to a friend so they would receive more financial aid because she would then qualify as a dependent.
Rajput said no one should have to get married in order to pay for college.
“Is this actually something that is happening at this University?” Rajput said. “The answer is yes. … That’s where we’re at. Where people are trying to do whatever to figure out how to make this make financial sense for them.”
University alum Stephen Tryban attended the town hall to learn more about the candidate challenging Dingell.
“As someone who is pretty far left, I am curious and interested in any kind of disruption there could be in the establishment Democrat field,” Tryban said. “I think that even if this campaign is not successful, I think that primarily having somebody like Solomon come in and really gather a lot of attention for these particular stances could inevitably shift Dingell’s position, possibly. So, I think, if anything, it could gather more support for these particular issues.”
Rajput concluded by sharing his opinions on health care. Implementing universal health care is crucial, he said.
“We need to try to make our healthcare system better from the inside out,” Rajput said.