First-generation American launches Senate campaign against Booker

A first-generation American on Thursday launched his campaign for Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE's (D-N.J.) Senate seat.

Rik Mehta, a pharmacist and lawyer whose parents came to the U.S. before he was born, will run as a Republican against Booker, whom he criticizes as having left New Jersey behind to run for the White House.

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"In a few weeks, when Cory Booker is done showboating around Iowa and dropping out of the presidential race, he'll run back to New Jersey to pretend he cares about all of us he left behind," Mehta said in his campaign video. "The difference this time: He'll have to face me."

Mehta, who will run under the campaign slogan "Jersey Proud," touts a career fighting "bad actors" selling illegal drugs, lowering drug prices, reducing the number of opioids on the streets and curtailing the number of counterfeit drugs on shelves.

He also highlights his parents' story of immigrating to the U.S. and vows to support other immigrants like himself.

"Politicians like Cory Booker and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDemocrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates Advocates frustrated by shrinking legal migration under Biden Rand Paul blocks quick vote on House-passed B Iron Dome funding MORE built their careers off the backs of our proud immigrants all while encouraging illegal immigration," he says in the video, referring to New Jersey's senior senator.

Mehta then mentioned that New Jersey is the state most people are moving away from, citing a United Van Lines study released in January.

"Sounds more like Venezuela, not New Jersey. And who brought us here?" he says.

The video then turns to a clip of Booker's comments during Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughLocked and Loaded: Supreme Court is ready for a showdown on the Second Amendment Why Latinos need Supreme Court reform Feehery: A Republican Congress is needed to fight left's slide to autocracy MORE's confirmation hearings, when he said, "This is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment."

"Where's Spartacus now?" Mehta says.

The Hill reached out to the Booker campaign and Menendez's office for comment.

Booker announced his bid for the White House in February and has since campaigned around the country. He has also participated in every round of Democratic primary debates and has qualified for the next one, in November.

In the RealClearPolitics average of polls, Booker is in ninth place in the crowded Democratic field, gaining just 1.6 percent of the vote.

Three other Republican candidates have filed for the primary for the 2020 election: Tricia Flanagan, who ran a third-party campaign in 2018; Stuart David Meissner, who ran an independent campaign for Senate in the 2013 special election; and 2018 House candidate Hirsh Singh.