Aug 4, 2022 - Politics

Shri: Voters didn't care about his race

Shri Thanedar marches in Detroit
Shri Thanedar marches in Detroit. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Shri Thanedar's primary victory likely ended Detroit's close to 70-year run of Black representation in Congress.

Why it matters: Detroit is nearly 80% Black, and a Black congressperson has represented the city since 1955.

  • "It looks like the golden age of Black leadership may be over here," local political consultant Greg Bowens tells Axios.

Driving the news: Thanedar, an entrepreneur who immigrated from India, beat eight other candidates in the 13th District Democratic primary.

  • Thanedar got 28% of votes, followed by state Sen. Adam Hollier at 24% and Portia Roberson with 17%.

The latest: Thanedar reflected on his win yesterday, telling Axios that race was not an issue when he talked to voters. They related to his poor upbringing and were more concerned with high gas prices, blight and crime than Black representation.

  • "The ordinary people just loved my story," he says.

Between the lines: Thanedar threw more than $5 million of his own money into the race to fuel an ad campaign that put him on voters' TVs, the Detroit News reports.

  • He also was willing to meet voters anywhere from street corners to jazz concerts.

What they're saying: "He's the kind of person who will stand at 7 Mile and Gratiot and wave a sign and talk to people," Bowens says. "He doesn't say, 'I'm just like you.' He says, 'I'm cool with you.'"

  • He also benefited from a crowded field that included Black candidates who didn't have a chance. Support for John Conyers III and Michael Griffie was in the single digits.

Of note: Thanedar is considered a heavy favorite against Republican Martell Bivings, who is Black, in November's general election.

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