Indian-American Democratic candidate in Michigan raises record funds from individuals

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Suneel Gupta, left, candidate for the U.S. Congress from District 11, with his brother Dr. Sanjay Gupta. (Videograb Suneel Gupta campaign)

Suneel Gupta, candidate for the U.S. Congress from Michigan’s District 11, says he has topped the historical fundraising record in his district in terms of individual contributions, in the latest quarter April 1 to June 30.

Campaign Manager Michael Kurtz, told this correspondent in a phone interview that Gupta has raised more than $400,000 in this quarter alone. The Federal Election Commission website has yet to be informed of the totals Kurtz said, so figures on this latest quarter ending June 30 are yet to be posted there.

This race is expected to be hotly contested come Nov. 6, as both parties strive to win after Republican Congressman David Trott announced last September he would not be seeking re-election. The Cook Political Report considers the district a “Toss-up” and has not predicted any candidate win in light of the results from the Aug. 7 primaries, even though President Donald Trump and before him, Republican candidate Mitt Romney, both won this district.

Gupta, who is the brother of CNN health correspondent Sanjay Gupta, is hoping to defeat the three contenders from his party Aug. 7. The Democratic Party has not endorsed any of the several candidates for the primary, who among others, include Haley Stevens, a former Obama administration official, second after Gupta in terms of raising funds before the primary. Of the several Republican primary contenders, Lena Epstein is the only one close to raising close to Gupta’s amount ($1.5 million approx.) till March 31, $1 million of which was her own money.

In a press release July 2, Gupta’s campaign said the Indian-American candidate, “broke yet another fundraising record – raising more from individual contributors than all candidates in both major parties for this financial quarter, and in the history of the District.” The ‘financial quarter is from April 1 to June 30.

Including the total for this latest fundraising quarter, Gupta has raised more than $1.33 million for his campaign since October 1, 2017.

According to FEC data checked by Desi Talk, Gupta raised close to a million dollars between October 2017 and March 31. Total contributions during that period equalled $934,511.72, in which individual contributions dominated – $923,864.62.

“This is a campaign funded by individuals more than any other  campaign,” Kurtz said. “We are thrilled to have the suppot of so many individuals in the community and the state and definitely in Michigan where South Asians and Indian-Americans live in significant numbers, we are proud that Suneelhas so much support – both financial and in terms of volunteering their time,” Kurtz added.

Calling it a “field driven” campaign that was “crucial” for the party, Kurtz said there were some 40 interns pounding the pavement during the summer, and more than 300 volunteers giving of their time. “Our campaign looks like the diversity of this state,” Kurtz added.

“Breaking historical fundraising totals for the District once again, Suneel continues to demonstrate that he is a unique candidate with the ability to win this seat in November – with the financial strength, momentum and grassroots enthusiasm it takes to go the distance,”  Gupta’s Campaign Co-Chair Karla Swift is quoted saying in the press release issued July 2.

Kurtz noted that neither the National Democratic Party, nor the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or the Michigan Democratic Party had endorsed any candidate because “They are letting this primary play out.”

“This campaign is fueled by people who stand for a progressive agenda, and against the corporate special interests. We are ready to take our country back from Donald Trump,” Gupta is quoted saying in the press release.  If elected, he says he “will fight to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare, every child receives a world-class education regardless of zip code, and every woman feels safe and empowered, with reproductive freedom and equal pay.”

If Gupta wins the primary Aug. 7, against Stevens and Michigan State House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, as well as Fayrouz Saad, a former Obama official supported by the Bernie Sanders factions in the Democratic Party, the Indian-American will go against the Republican primary winner. That could be any of the following in the running — Republican Kerry Bentivolio, a former U.S. representative defeated by Trott in 2014, businesswoman Lena Epstein, former Michigan House Majority Leader Rocky Raczkowski, and Michigan State Senator Mike Kowall.

Gupta is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and did his MBA from the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. He did law from Northwestern Law School. He founded the company Rise, was the vice president of product development at Groupon, and the director of product development at Mozilla.

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