UC Berkeley student joins race for California State Assembly seat as only Republican candidate

Pranav Jandhyala/Courtesy

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UC Berkeley sophomore Pranav Jandhyala is running for California State Assembly District 15 as the only Republican on the ballot, among 12 other candidates.

The seat is currently held by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, who is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. He will not be pursuing reelection for state assembly, according to Madeline Franklin, Thurmond’s campaign manager. Before January, there were 9 candidates who had filed their intents to run. Now, that number has increased to 12, with Jandhyala, Sergey Piterman and Raquella Thaman joining the race.

Jandhyala, founder of BridgeUSA at Berkeley and member of Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, filed his intent to run in mid-January and said he is running to “give voters a choice.” Among 12 other Democratic candidates, Jandhyala plans to focus on criminal justice reform, education reform and the environment.

I think the main perceptions that people have are that the Republican people hate the people, hate the planet, hate the poor,” Jandhyala said. “I’m very pro-environment. I believe in criminal justice reform efforts and (am) still Republican. Tough on crime and smart on crime.”

After sustaining a concussion at the Milo Yiannopoulos protests last year, Jandhyala garnered national attention by founding the Berkeley chapter of BridgeUSA. He invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus in spring 2017, but the event was canceled. As a part of the Berkeley Patriot, a campus publication, he helped organize “Free Speech Week,” which was set to take place in September 2017 but was canceled as well.

Jandhyala is following in the footsteps of former BCR president Claire Chiara, who also ran for the District 15 seat against Thurmond in 2016. Jandhyala decided to run after he was approached by the local Republican party in Alameda and Contra Costa counties about running. Encouraged by mentors, he sees this as a great learning experience, as he plans to run for office in the future as well.

“I just want to be a voice, to be able to speak,” Jandhyala said. “I’m going to give it my best shot.”

University news editor Ani Vahradyan contributed to this report. 

Malini Ramaiyer is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @malinisramaiyer.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Assemblymember Tony Thurmond would be seeking reelection for state assembly. In fact, he is not.

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  • California Defender

    Good luck Pranav! I don’t think the residents of the 15th are too interested in new or differing ideas, but I’m glad someone is at least trying to open their minds!

    • Joseph Morabito

      I can see that my broad brush failed me on this article. I saw “Berkeley” and just jumped to the liberal card. My error. Good luck to Pranav, it can’t be easy on him in a political hotbed such as Berkeley.

  • Konstantine Nikka-Sher Piterma

    Sergey Piterman is also a UC Berkeley graduate! He graduated from the Class of 2014 with a degree in Integrative Biology and Environmental Economics. He is doing some interesting things by doing polling on the blockchain. very excited to be a part of his team! Sergey2018!

    • California Defender

      What are some of his positions?

  • BerCaley

    That district went for Clinton, 87.4 – 7.0%.

    • California Defender

      Clearly, democracy is passe in the Bay Area. No differing opinions or debate, just a one-party state.

      Do they really need to hold elections anymore? I’m sure most in the area would be happy if the Democratic Party Central Committee would just appoint someone rather than going through the silly antiquated motions of voting.

  • Joseph Morabito

    They’re all the same. Nary a difference between one NoCal liberal and the next one. Might as well give the seat to this kid.

    • chris n

      might as well beat him with a bike lock

      fash scum

      • Joseph Morabito

        I’ll leave the violence to the likes of you.

        • chris n

          and remain silent on the violence of the pigs and the troops

          • Joseph Morabito

            Will do.
            Now is that all, or do you have more melting to do before switching on the X Box?

      • Pietro Gambadilegno

        shut the f–k up, stupid.

        (I am quoting this. It is the complete content of another comment by Chris N. It shows that he is one of the few who is on an even lower level than Morabito.)

        • chris n

          i think it’s good when nazis get beat up

          • Joseph Morabito

            Then I suggest you sit back and enjoy any “beatings” that will be coming your way.

          • chris n

            normal republicans believe it’s ok to detain child asylum seekers forever

            a college republican in the trump era is pure fash scum

            licka my ballsa, joey

          • Joseph Morabito

            Those are some pretty ripe brain droppings right there. Of all the liberals I’ve encountered, you are truly one of the more erudite of the lot.

          • California Defender

            He’s just a typical low-intellect violent leftist. They only have hate in their hearts and drugs in their brains.

            Let him go chase his imaginary Nazis like a hamster running in a wheel.

        • Joseph Morabito

          Pete, get over it. We have different opinions, but only in the magical world of a partisan hack (from any party) one concludes that such differences are due to the other person being “low” or some other such Ad Hom. They are weeping in the halls where you learned your argumentation skills.

    • Pietro Gambadilegno

      Grow a brain cell.

      (I am quoting this. It is the complete content of another comment by Mr. Morabito. It shows the low level of his comments generally.)

      • Joseph Morabito

        Actually, it shows the low level of the comments others left, that I then commented on… but thanks for playing along.

      • California Defender

        Well, Pietro, is there any difference between the Democrats running for the seat?