Suneel Gupta, an Indian American former executive of Groupon, is hoping to win a seat in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District.
Gupta, a Democrat, who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and law degree and M.B.A. from Northwestern University, has gone on to have a successful career as an entrepreneur, including serving as the co-founder and chief executive of mobile health company Rise, which lowered the cost of quality care for thousands of patients.
Gupta and his brother Dr. Sanjay Gupta co-created Rise, a healthcare company that uses technology to shrink the cost of quality healthcare.
After the startup served over 1,000 patients, former first lady Michelle Obama asked Rise to be her team’s official technology partner. Through this public-private partnership, together they delivered health coaching to lower-income areas of the country.
In 2016, Michael Bloomberg convened a bi-partisan commission on the Future of Work, and Gupta was asked to join and bring Rise’s lessons to policymakers.
His time helping people with their health options at Rise – where he was from 2013 to 2016 – has directly correlated with his congressional candidacy.
“(Gupta’s) experiences in technology, healthcare, and business uniquely qualify him to fight for better jobs, better wages and better skills for our working families,” the Indian American candidate’s website, www.suneelgupta.com, said.
Gupta said that President Donald Trump’s immigration policies led to him running for the seat, according to an Associated Press report.
“It is literally the moment that I realized my daughter’s first president is going to be Donald Trump, and knowing that when he wants to ‘Make America Great Again,’ he wants a few less people that look like us around,” Gupta said in the report.
The AP report detailed how the Asian American community has risen up to run for federal positions throughout the country in response to Trump and his immigration policies.
Political preferences vary among Asian ethnic groups although overall, more favor Democrats over Republicans, said Karthick Ramakrishnan, public policy professor at the University of California, Riverside, and director of AAPI Data, which provides demographic information on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, according to the AP report.
About 40 percent of Asian American voters are undecided or unaffiliated.
Asians once voted Republican, with 55 percent choosing George H.W. Bush over Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992. But by 2012, Barack Obama had received nearly 75 percent of their vote and in 2016, Asian Pacific Americans overwhelmingly went for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the report added.
Ramakrishnan said Asian American voters were turned off by the Republican Party and Trump rhetoric over immigration. Indeed, more than 70 percent of Asian adults in the U.S. are born abroad, according to the Pew Research Center, it said.
Affordable, quality healthcare for all is the top of the issues Gupta intends to address if elected. Other issues, as Gupta described on his campaign site, included a world-class education for every student and a return to decency.
With regard to education, Gupta said he will prevent for-profit charter schools from receiving a single dime of taxpayer money; reduce crushing student loan debt for parents and students; and empower every student to pursue higher education or community college and making it impossible to work full-time and still feel poor.
Explaining his “return to decency” issue, Gupta explained, “In Donald Trump’s America, we’re being divided into two camps, and pitted against each other every day. But in this country, we are better than that.”
He said he would prevent the use of taxpayer money to sweep bad behavior underneath the rug; demand that women receive equal pay for equal work, and access to affordable child care and family leave; and fight “tooth-and-nail” for common-sense gun legislation, and reversing the tide of Citizens United so that the NRA and large corporations can no longer drown out the voices of families.
Gupta, his site added, is well rooted in Michigan, having roots traced back to 1967, when his mother became Ford Motor Company’s first female engineer. She and his father worked in the auto industry for over 30 years, his campaign site said.
At UM, Gupta earned a degree in computer programming and went on to start his career using his skills to help the state track down fathers who refused to pay child support and the United States Navy improve their military operations.
After that, he shifted gears to tech, serving as director of product development at Mozilla Firefox and vice president of product development at Groupon, until he founded Rise.
After Rise, Gupta served as head of mobile business at One Medical Group in 2016, entrepreneur in residence at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers from February to August in 2017, and a visiting scholar at Harvard University, from January to September in 2017.
Michigan’s 11th Congressional District is represented by Republican David Trott, who is not seeking re-election. Gupta is in a crowded Democratic primary field, which includes state Rep. Tim Greimel, as well as Dan Haberman, Fayrouz Saad, Nancy Skinner and Haley Stevens.
The Democratice winner will take on the winner of the Republican primary – including candidates former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, state Rep. Klint Kesto, state Sen. Mike Kowall and former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski, as well as Kristine Bonds and Lena Epstein. Also seeking the seat are Libertarian Leonard Schwartz and Independent Cooper Nye.
The Michigan primary election is Aug. 7.