November 10, 2009: A former reality TV contestant is looking to spice up Cincinnati-area politics by mounting an independent congressional campaign for a seat currently held by Republican Jean Schmidt.
Surya Yalamanchili, 28, a contestant on the 2007 edition of Donald Trump’s "The Apprentice," calls being on the show "a lot like politics."
"These shows are all about posturing and playing gotcha and backstabbing and being incredibly opportunistic to get what you want," says Yalamanchili. "If that doesn’t describe the modus operandi of the Republican and Democratic parties in Washington, I don’t know what does."
Yalamanchili, who filed a declaration of candidacy last month with the Federal Election Commission, says he’s seeking office as an independent because he can’t stand the constant bickering between the two parties.
"I believe the average American can win a congressional district as an independent, if they are willing to talk to voters," he says. "At no other point has there been such dissatisfaction and anger with what is going on in Washington and how little our elected officials are representing their constituents’ views."
Yalamanchili grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to Cincinnati after graduating from college to work as a brand manager for Proctor & Gamble’s "Olay" lotion franchise. After his stint on Trump’s show, Yalamanchili worked for a number of Internet social media companies, including LinkedIn.
There’s already a crowd vying for the seat Yalamanchili wants. Schmidt is seeking re-election. She’s being challenged in the GOP primary by Warren County Commissioner C. Michael Kilburn.
The Democratic field includes David Krikorian, who sought the office last year as an independent, and state Rep. Todd Book.
Yalamanchili believes his background in brand management and social media will serve him well on the campaign trail, and the last two syllables of his name will also be a hit in chili crazy Cincinnati. His campaign website is: www.votechili.com.
For the record, Yalamanchili says his preferred Skyline Chili order is a 5-Way inverted, with the cheese on the bottom so it melts.