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It has been quite some time since I've approached this community to say this is the candidate that you need to support.  I try to be modest and about my capacities and try to only make asks of my friends when I'm sure it's worth it ... and my friend Manan Trivedi is worth it.

He's running for Congress in Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District, a gerrymandered monster of a district stretching from Reading to Lower Merion, cobbled together to create a slightly R-leaning district in Philadelphia's western suburbs which Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) has held since the district was created in 2002.  Dan Wofford tried to best him in 2002, and I'm sure you remember Lois Murphy's nail-biter challenges in 2004 and 2006.  It has always been a tight district, which is why Jim Gerlach had announced he was leaving it to run for Governor last year -- but with minimal support there, he had no choice but to run for this office again, with it now being clear to everyone that his heart isn't in this seat anymore.

This is our year.  Manan Trivedi is the candidate.

Manan -- and I really should be calling him "Dr. Trivedi," since he is one, but we've become friendly over the past few months -- grew up in Berks County, where his Indian immigrant parents worked at the Red Cheek apple juice factory.  He attended college and med school at Boston University, then joined the United States Navy, where served as the battalion surgeon for a Marine Corps infantry battalion from 2001-03, commanding a medical team that cared for over 1,200 of our troops and hundreds of Iraqi civilians as part of the first ground forces entering Iraq.

For his service, Lt. Commander Trivedi earned the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy Commendation Medal, and his unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

After his service in Iraq, Manan earned a Masters in health policy at UCLA. He drew on his experience with combat medicine to become one of the early researchers to investigate the unique mental health issues affecting our troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Trivedi went on to serve as health policy advisor to the Navy Surgeon General and was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.  He also served as a health policy advisor to the Obama for America campaign.  Manan is now back home in Reading, where he's a board-certified internal medicine doctor at Reading Hospital.

That's all background.  Let me tell you a story.

A few months ago a mutual friend encouraged Manan and I to meet, and we sat down for breakfast across the street from my office.  At this point -- and this is not to brag but for context -- I do meet with candidates fairly frequently, and they all seem to want to know the answers to two questions: (1) how can I raise money from the Netroots?, and (2) how can I raise money from your law firm?

Manan was different.  We spent the whole time in full wonk mode, talking about things Congress should be doing as part of the next wave of health care reform to increase the number of primary care doctors in America and the quality of that care.  I hope his genuineness and humility comes across in this early campaign video:

And make no mistake, he believes in the things we do -- on health care, education, on energy and issues of war and peace.  And he is not shy.  Late last week, when 25 of 26 leading Democratic House challengers declined to answer whether they'd vote for the Senate bill, Manan said yes:

Out of the more than two dozen Democratic challengers and open-seat House candidates, only 10 commented for this story. Eight outright declined to comment. Eight more didn't respond to several days' worth of requests via phone and e-mail.

The only candidate to say unequivocally that he would support the Senate bill, which could be voted on in the House next week, is a primary-care physician running to face Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.). Dr. Manan Trivedi said it's important to get the ball rolling on reconciliation. "The answer is yes," he said flatly. That was about as direct as the answers got...

Among those declining to respond was his primary opponent, Doug Pike.  You may have met Doug at Netroots Nation last year, and he's not like evil or anything ... but he's not the right guy, either, for a variety of reasons.

Basically, Pike is someone who at the age of 59 had decided to use his accumulated wealth and move into the 6th District for Congress, where he's largely self-financing this campaign.  (His father, Otis Pike, was a Congressman from New York.)  Before that, his main job was as an editorial writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he wrote some weird things -- endorsing St. Rep. Stephen Freind, whom he acknowledged as "a zealous opponent of abortion" but stated that some issues were "more important" at the height of the Gov. Casey era.  

[His weirdness on abortion dates back at least to 1988, where even an ostensibly pro-choice column of his insisted on the "gruesomeness" of the medical procedure which he called "this wholesale disposal of what abortion backers insist is less than a baby and what anti- abortionists know is more than a glob," asserting that the "annual toll still should turn the stomachs of people who have quietly gone along with Roe v. Wade," and extends to this campaign where he falsely claimed to be the only pro-choice candidate in the race.]

The other reason you might have heard of Pike is, ironically, the reason you aren't hearing from Pike.  His campaign manager was banned from this site and Swing State Project last September for sockpuppetry employed to bash Trivedi at the start of Trivedi's campaign.  The campaign declined numerous opportunities to apologize, to this day.

[Trivedi, meanwhile, has been here diarying, quietly.]

But I want to get back to the positives, because they're so strong: with all apologies to my chosen profession in law, it's doctors we need more of in Congress.  And, honestly, we need more South Asians in Congress as well -- it's about time.  

Those who meet Trivedi love him.  That's why the Chester and Montgomery County Democrats -- the two counties in the party which have endorsed so far -- endorsed Manan Trivedi.  Several incumbents who had backed Pike when he was the only declared candidate either declared neutral or flipped to Trivedi altogether, including liberal St. Rep. Josh Shapiro's hopping off the Pike train this morning.  And momentum is building.  Here's some of what he said at that Chester County endorsement meeting:

(Another good campaign speech here.)  But Dr. Manan Trivedi doesn't have Doug Pike's million-dollar bank account.  He needs each of us.

Here's my goal for today.  I want to add 100 new contributors to Trivedi for Congress.  In addition, I will match the first $500 you contribute, dollar for dollar.  I have established a new ActBlue page, Change We Need, to help Manan and other worthy challengers down the line.

Goal Thermometer

Do you remember back when this community was so eager to get involved in Democratic primaries, in order to elect more and better Democrats?  Manan Trivedi is both, and it's time for us to get into this primary.  All of us.  Can you help with $5, $10, $25 or more?

I have met a lot of candidates over the past year, and I am telling you this right now: Manan Trivedi deserves all the help you can give.  

Originally posted to Adam B on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 11:55 AM PDT.

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