Progressive congressional candidate Junaid Ahmed believes in the awesome power of the United States, of the people who live here, and in our collective ability to build an economy that works for all of us. That’s why he seeks to bring real representation to Congress for the working people of Illinois’ 8th District. His platform features Medicare for all, a thriving wage, immigration reform, and taking big money out of politics.
What sets Ahmed apart from incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi? While both are Democrats, Ahmed has emerged as a champion of everyday people.
“Eighteen percent of households in our district make less than $35,000 a year,” he explained. “One in ten in this district does not have any health insurance whatsoever. Fifteen thousand people were unemployed in 2019, and that was before the pandemic. We can do better.”
Ahmed suspects Krishnamoorthi has forgotten the voters that put him in office, raising concerns about the source of the incumbent’s war chest.
“Raja takes donations from big pharma, the healthcare industry, and contracting firms,” he said. “Why is he even a Democrat if he’s taking this money?”
Conversely, Ahmed’s platform calls for abolishing super PACs and replacing corporate funding with publicly funded elections. He believes the highest bidder shouldn’t get to dictate policies that impact everyday people. This is more evident than ever as Illinois’ governor’s race shapes up to be the most expensive in U.S. history.
Yet according to Ahmed, Krishnamoorthi’s large campaign donations from special interests won’t be enough to buy this election.
“The voters will be the ones who decide this election,” Ahmed said. “I hope everyone who donated will consider joining my team and me as we talk to them.”
Finding His Call To Action
“My story is shared with millions of other Americans,” Ahmed said. “I’m a son of an immigrant, and I’m an immigrant myself.”
Ahmed’s parents moved from India to Illinois to give him a shot at a better life. They worked hard so Junaid could live out the American dream.
“I learned the value of hard work and dedication from my father,” he explained. “I have seen him working two jobs, trying so hard to pursue the American dream and provide the best for his family. By watching my father and following his example, I couldn’t learn anything but great dedication, doing the best in your life, and giving back to the community.”
Toward that end, he has committed himself to service his entire adult life. “I’ve volunteered for community organizations, mentoring youth, working with the homeless; that’s my life for the last several decades,” he stated.
Upon graduating from the University of Chicago and developing his professional skills, Ahmed opened a small business and saw success. However, his wife’s student loans burdened the family for decades before they were able to pay them off.
“As I built my life, I saw it become harder and harder for families to reach the same American Dream my parents fought so hard for. And even when families do reach it, it’s harder to hold on to,” Ahmed said.
Fighting to restore opportunity for the people in his community, he started volunteering for Democratic candidates in his home state, including Krishnamoorthi. He did the grunt work, canvassing neighborhoods, knocking on doors, and working the phone bank. Only when he realized that Krishnamoorthi wasn’t the leader he had hoped for did he heed his fellow volunteers’ calls to run for office himself.
As a candidate for Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, Ahmed has dedicated himself to keeping the American dream alive.
The Most Viable Challenger
Despite rejecting donations from corporations and special interests, Ahmend has emerged as the most viable challenger against the incumbent.
According to recent public filings with the Federal Elections Commission, Ahmed raised $612,716 in 2021. That total is a half million dollars more than Republican challenger Peter Kpsaftis and Democrat Faheem Mohammed raised over the same time period combined. What’s even more impressive is that more than 77% of Ahmed’s donations came from individual donations of $300 or less.
He has also started accumulating endorsements from like-minded community leaders.
On Feb. 2, the national grassroots organization Peace Action announced its endorsement of Ahmed.
“Peace Action is thrilled to support Junaid Ahmed in his run for Congress,” said Lilly Dragnev, National Engagement and Campaigns Manager at Peace Action. “He knows where the priorities of those in power should lie; with their constituents, not special interests.”
Rachel Ventura, a member of the Will County Board, and John Kokoris, a trustee for Gail Borden Public Library District, also believe Ahmed is the strongest candidate in the primary race.
“Very few members of Congress have the courage to stand strong against the perpetual attacks from deep-pocketed interests,” commented Ventura, who is currently running for Illinois State Senate in the 43rd District. “We are both fighting for a government that works for everyone, and that is why I’m honored to help him win!”
“We need more Congressmen who will stand up for people’s dignity like Junaid,” said Kokoris, an activist and community organizer who implemented the most successful off-site Affordable Care Act enrollment in his county. “On every issue — healthcare for all, climate change, war, and more — Junaid is fighting for me and my neighbors, not wealthy donors.”