A champion of the middle class and working families, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji proudly represents the 33rd Legislative District (Hudson County) in the New Jersey State Legislature. He is a businessman, former Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, and former Sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at New Jersey City University.
In the Assembly, he sits on the Budget Committee, responsible for crafting the state budget (approximately $33 billion in FY 2015), as well as the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee and the Assembly Labor Committee. Assemblyman Mukherji is presently the only South Asian legislator in the state (and the second in state history), the first Asian American legislator from Hudson County, and presently, the only Bengali-American state legislator in the United States.
In his first term, Mukherji quickly earned a statewide reputation as a prolific, effective lawmaker. He was a primary sponsor of numerous bills focusing on economic development and job creation; protecting seniors and expanding their access to healthcare and essential services; infrastructure; public safety; veterans; social justice; addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery; animal welfare; and a myriad of other issues of importance to his constituents. In just his first year in office, fourteen bills prime-sponsored by Mukherji were signed into law by Governor Christie, and he was named "Humane Legislator of the Year" for 2015 by the Humane Society.
The son of Indian American immigrants, Assemblyman Mukherji supported himself through high school, college, and grad school as an emancipated minor when economic circumstances forced his parents to return to their native India. After suffering a pituitary tumor, stroke, and other ailments, Raj's father - the late Asim Mukherji, an accountant and musician - could no longer work as a result of his health but could not afford health coverage without employment. This experience shaped Raj's perspective and interest in healthcare and inspired much of his subsequent advocacy in that field.
Raj had founded an Internet consulting and software development company while in middle school, grew it, and later sold it to a larger technology company to enlist in the Marines two weeks after 9/11 at age 17, where he served in military intelligence for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. The young entrepreneur withdrew from high school after completing ninth grade to focus on his business endeavors and support himself after his parents were forced to move to India. At 15, he enrolled in an early college program at Bard College at Simon’s Rock and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from Thomas A. Edison State College, an individualized Master of Liberal Arts focused on national security from the University of Pennsylvania, and a law degree (Juris Doctor), cum laude, from Seton Hall Law School, which he attended on a Chancellor's Scholarship.
At 19, Raj cofounded a public affairs firm that he grew into the state’s third largest lawyer-lobbying firm while learning the inner workings of the State House and becoming fascinated by the policymaking and legislative processes in Trenton. His clients included social justice causes, higher education institutions, Fortune 500 corporations, financial institutions, healthcare institutions, government agencies, and others. While serving as the firm's Managing Partner, Mukherji advocated to abolish the death penalty in New Jersey and replace it with life imprisonment without parole; lobbied for LGBTI equality; worked with the NJEDA and the Business Action Center in successfully advocating for job creation and tax credit incentives; successfully brokered or facilitated complex transactions, including the sales of a nursing home and hospitals; and secured millions in grants or appropriations for hospitals and nonprofit clients and advocated to expand Medicaid and charity care for the underprivileged, a cause especially dear to his heart due to his father’s narrative.
At 24, Raj was appointed Commissioner and Chairman of the Jersey City Housing Authority, the youngest in city history. At the state's second largest housing authority, he earned nationwide acclaim for his oversight and various reforms at the $70 million agency serving over 16,000 residents and approximately 6,700 households. At 27, he was appointed Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey's second largest city, where he served from 2012-13. At 28, Raj won a six-way Democratic primary election for Assembly by a 36-point margin in 2013 and won the November general election by a 20-point margin.