Several Indian-Americans tried their luck at winning party primaries at the state and federal level in Michigan, Missouri and Washington states, Aug. 7, only to lose to opponents. Kansas where primaries were also held the same day fielded no Indian-American. The few who were unopposed obviously go forward to Nov. 6. One key race in Michigan is yet to be called.
Michigan fielded the largest number of Indian-Americans in various races.
Shri Thanedar, a businessman who made an ambitious bid for the Democratic primary for Governor of Michigan, lost to Gretchen Whitmer, an attorney from East Lancing and former State Senate Minority Leader.
Whitmer won 50 percent of the vote, while another candidate, Abdul El-Sayed, a favorite of the Bernie Sanders group within the party, won 33.9 percent. Thanedar had 16.1 percent when the winner was declared though only 50 percent of the precincts had reported by 10 pm Aug. 7, going by the New York Times report. According to the voting map, Thanedar appears to have won most of his votes in Wayne and Oakland counties.
Thanedar, 62, pumped $3.3 million into his bid for the party’s nomination early in the race last year, and had an impressive campaign chest, but described himself as “an underdog” trying to bring about change. “I am an underdog. I intend to fight and intend to disrupt this Democratic Party way of choosing a successor,” Thanedar told Desi Talk early in his campaign. “I want the Party to hold off on the ‘coronation’ of Gretchen Whitmer and take a look at my skill sets,” he added.
Whitmer will be facing off against Republican primary winner Bill Schuette in November.
Another high-profile Democratic primary took place in U.S. House District 11, where political newbie Suneel Gupta, an entrepreneur and the brother of famed CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, tried for the party’s endorsement against two relative heavyweights, former Obama administration official Haley Stevens and State Rep. Tim Greimel, among others. The Indian-American community, including PACs like the Impact Fund rallied behind Gupta, but the race was not yet called by midnight Aug. 7. With less than 50 percent of the precincts reporting, Stevens was leading with 27.8 percent, Greimel was at 21.7 percent, and Gupta 21.4 percent, while a bunch of other candidates altogether took a total of 29.1 percent of the vote, according to the Times live reporting.
Another untested Indian-American who threw his hat in the race for Congress in Michigan was Lokesh Kumar, from U.S. House District 8, in the Republican primary. Kumar lost heavily in his bid against incumbent Rep. Mike Bishop.
In the Michigan state level races, Padma Kuppa, was unopposed in the Democratic primary from State House District 41. The Republican primary was neck-and-neck so her opponent was yet to bve declared for the November race;
Aditi Bagchi ran for the State House from District 38, and made a good showing garnering 37 percent of the vote, but trailing 10 points behind Kelly Breen (47 percent), with 41 percent of the precincts reporting.
In Washington state, Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who has made her presence felt nationally in her two years on Capitol Hill, was unopposed as was Republican Craig Keller. Both will go head-to-head on Nov. 6.
At the State level, incumbent Democrat Manka Dhingra, was unopposed in Washington State Senate District 47, and will run against Republican Dale Fonk in November; as will Mona Das, an unopposed Democrat, who will face off against Republican incumbent Joe Fain in the State Senate District 47.
In the Washington State House races, only one Indian-American was on the ballot – incumbent Vandana Slatter, a Democrat who was unopposed in Position 1 from District 48, and will continue in the State House.
In Missouri, there were no Indian-Americans trying to get to Washington, D.C., but at the State House level, Karan Pujji, hoping for the Republican nomination from State District 88, garnered an impressive 41 percent but was far behind the winner Lloyd Nolan (59 percent), with 93 percent of the precincts reporting, according to the New York Times.
In Kansas, there were no Indian-American candidates running in the Democratic or Republican primaries at the state or federal level.