thanedar ahead

Shri Thanedar was ahead in the Michigan primary Aug. 5. The Indian American businessman appears headed to the state House. ( photo)

DETROIT (AP) — An Indian American businessman who spent millions on an unsuccessful run for governor appears likely to get to the Capitol in another way.

Shri Thanedar was in first place in the Democratic primary Aug. 5 for a seat in the House, with 98% of precincts reporting in the 3rd District. There were eight candidates in a district that typically supports the Democratic nominee in the fall.

Thanedar, who has made a fortune in business, spent more than $300,000 on the race, the Detroit Free Press reported. State lawmakers are paid $71,685 a year. Thanedar moved to Detroit from Ann Arbor.

He spent more than $10 million of his own money to run for governor in 2018 but finished third in the Democratic primary.

Thanedar said he started campaigning before the coronavirus outbreak, which gave him a chance to see people in person. He said he spent a lot of money on campaign staff and mailings about the virus.

Thanedar said his rags-to-riches story resonates with Detroit residents.

“I grew up poor in southern India, living in a small home where the roof leaked and the house had no running water and an outhouse 50 feet away,” he said.

India-West Staff Reporter adds from an earlier story: Raised in poverty in his native India, Thanedar has previously said he feels a strong connection to the city and wants to serve its residents in some capacity.

“I understand [Detroiters’] struggle. I have been in their shoes,” he said in a May interview with Deadline Detroit. “I’m happy to see the prosperity in downtown, but that needs to spread and we need to give hope and opportunity for all — improving the quality of life for the average Detroiter in terms of health care, jobs, skills training."

He was the top vote-getter in Detroit last fall in the race against now-Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed, the report notes.

In the 3rd District, Thanedar has said he would focus on creating economic opportunity. In an interview with Deadline Detroit this summer, he stressed restoring to productive use the long-idling state fair grounds on Woodward and noted that black-owned businesses along Livernois are struggling to stay open amid a city road construction project, it said.

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