Puneet Ahluwalia, a Northern Virginia business consultant, has joined the competition for the GOP’s lieutenant governor nomination in 2021, campaigning on a message of “hope, growth and opportunity.”
Ahluwalia, originally from India, consults with businesses on client acquisition, marketing and strategic affairs. His wife, Nadia, originally from Pakistan, owns an IT services firm that supports companies and government agencies. They became U.S. citizens 14 years ago and have three children in college.
He says he is running because he believes that in a turbulent year, Virginia is in trouble.
“It’s important that we find ways to create jobs, not only in Northern Virginia but in the rest of Virginia,” Ahluwalia said in a telephone interview.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, it’s particularly important to strengthen small businesses.
As for education, he said Virginia must take a “safety first” approach to returning students to classrooms, noting that officials must work closely with parents in a dialogue about “what’s best for their kids — parents have to be engaged.”
Citing another priority in challenging times for the state, Ahluwalia said: “I really care about mental health issues” and making sure the state allocates sufficient resources in that area.
Ahluwalia is managing partner at New World Strategies. He also is a consultant with The Livingston Group, which describes him as “a highly experienced lobbyist and international business adviser.”
Ahluwalia briefly considered a run in 2017 for the seat of Del. Kathleen Murphy, D-Fairfax. He serves as chairman of the Proud American Political Action Committee, which seeks to elect conservative Republicans at all levels in Virginia. He also participates in the Northern Virginia Republican Business Forum.
“Liberal politicians are not a match for America’s greatness anymore,” he said in a video announcing his candidacy.
“We have to take back our freedom and win back our state. Let’s do it safely, and let’s do it as we Americans have always done it — with respect for the dignity of every individual and a commitment to the freedom our founders left us.”
In a written statement about his campaign, he said that “as a person of color, I sympathize with those who are frustrated and angry about race in this country.” He asserted that progressives “make big promises, trap minorities in dependence and hopelessness, then expect we’ll keep voting to re-elect them.”
Ahluwalia joins a large field running for lieutenant governor. Others seeking the GOP nomination include Del. Glenn Davis R-Virginia Beach; former Del. Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax; and Lance Allen of Fauquier County, an Air Force veteran who works for a national security and technology firm.
Democratic candidates who have announced runs for lieutenant governor or are expected to announce shortly include: Del. Hala Ayala, D-Prince William; Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William; Sean Perryman, head of the Fairfax County NAACP; Paul Goldman, former chairman of the state Democratic Party; and Xavier Warren, a lobbyist for nonprofits and an NFL player agent. Democrats exploring campaigns for lieutenant governor include Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke; and Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan.