Thanedar puts $2.7 million more in gubernatorial campaign
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democrat Shri Thanedar reported Tuesday that he put $2.7 million more into his gubernatorial campaign last week, bringing the total investment of his own money to nearly $6 million.
That is roughly the same amount that self-funder and then-political newcomer Rick Snyder spent on his successful 2010 campaign for governor.
The little-known Thanedar, a scientist and immigrant from India who jumped into the race in June, said he has to spend big to raise his name identification with voters and to serve in Lansing without being “beholden” to corporate interests. He renewed his call for other candidates to not accept donations from candidate, business or corporate-backed political action committees — a much easier move for him to make given his own personal fortune.
He has raised just $1,500 from other donors and has spent about $281,000.
“I need and want to take my ideas all over Michigan, and it’s going to take lot of money to do that. It’s a big state,” said Thanedar, who has called for a graduated income tax, higher minimum wage and increased spending on education and infrastructure. He said he wants to “disrupt” the Democratic primary and avoid an early “coronation” of front-runner Gretchen Whitmer.
He released his latest campaign-finance report a day before the deadline. He had nearly $5.7 million in cash on hand as of Friday, which is expected to outpace others in the Democratic and Republican fields.
Whitmer, who will file Wednesday, said she raised at least $765,000 in the last three months and has collected $2.3 million overall. Democrat Abdul El-Sayed will wait until Wednesday to report his finances.
Thanedar called Whitmer, a former legislative leader, and GOP front-runner Bill Schuette, the state attorney general, “career politicians” with “political baggage” who have taken donations from corporate PACs. Corporations, he said, “get away with all kinds of things” including not paying their fair share of taxes and polluting the environment.
Whitmer’s campaign, while not directly addressing Thanedar’s criticism, said 84 percent of the 13,000-plus donations she has received this year were for $100 or less and 83 percent came from Michigan donors.
“Gretchen Whitmer has built such an incredible movement of local grassroots support because the people of Michigan are ready for change, and they know that she’ll work with anyone who wants to solve problems and take on anyone who stands in our way,” spokeswoman Annie Ellison said. Whitmer has secured endorsements from labor unions and elected Democrats.
Unlike Thanedar and Republican candidate Jim Hines, who has given his own campaign more than $400,000, other gubernatorial candidates will be eligible for up to $990,000 in public funding for the August 2018 primary. They must raise at least $75,000 in contributions of $100 or less to qualify for matching funds.
Snyder, a Republican, cannot seek a third term due to term limits.