April 10, 2023

Aditya Pai jumps into race in attempt to flip Michelle Steel’s seat in 2024

Aditya Pai has jumped into the race to represent California’s 45th congressional district, making him a Democratic candidate for CA-45.

Yet another candidate has jumped into the race to represent California’s 45th congressional district, making him the third Democratic candidate to try a hand at flipping the seat in 2024.

Brea resident Aditya Pai said his campaign is meant “to inspire public service.” A construction attorney and Harvard Law School alumnus, Pai says he has dedicated more than 2,000 hours to civil legal aid work for low-income tenants and workers.

His campaign, he says, is a “continuation of that public service.”

“I’m running to serve the communities that invested in me and made the person that I am today,” Pai said.

The 31-year-old came to Orange County from Bombay, India, when he was 8 and credits his teachers, neighbors and other community members for opening doors for him.

Pai is a 2008 alumnus of Boys State, a civic leadership program for high school juniors, where he said he first became interested in government. He has worked on local and national Democratic races, including Sukhee Kang’s Irvine mayoral campaign in 2008 and Steve Bullock’s Montana gubernatorial campaign in 2012.

“I’ve never had the luxury of only talking to people that agree with me politically from a young age,” Pai said. “I’ve had to reach out to Republicans, independents, people of different backgrounds.”

As of now, Pai will be up against Seal Beach Republican Michelle Steel — who currently represents the district encompassing north Orange County communities and parts of Los Angeles County — and two Democrats in 2024: 25-year-old UC Irvine Law grad Cheyenne Hunt and Garden Grove Councilmember Kim Bernice Nguyen, who has already amassed plenty of local support.

The district was recently placed on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s target list of competitive Republican-held or open districts that the party’s campaign arm is expected to invest heavily in.

Democrats have a near 6% voter registration advantage over Republicans in CA-45, according to the latest official state registration reports. But Steel beat her Democratic opponent to win reelection in 2022 by nearly 5%.

To Pai, being a Democrat means helping those “caught in the tentacles of circumstance,” as the father of former President Lyndon B. Johnson put it. If the government wasn’t there for him at critical times in his life, Pai said, he wouldn’t be here today.

“My family got help securing our first mortgage. My mom got help securing capital for her small business. I got financial aid and subsidized student loans to go to law school,” Pai said. “I’m a Democrat because I believe that government has a role to play in improving people’s lives.”

One of his priorities includes supporting small businesses, which he said could be getting more help from Congress: “We have a small business crisis after the pandemic. Small businesses, which are the lives and livelihoods of so many residents of CA-45, are struggling.”

Others include advocating for affordable housing and “sane and humane immigration reform,” a matter Pai said he is positioned to deliver on as both an immigrant and an attorney.