At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the Associated Press called the closely watched Democratic primary race for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District for Indian-born, millionaire entrepreneur who self-funded his campaign, State Rep. Shri Thanedar.
Thanedar won the race with 28.3% of the vote to State Sen. Adam Hollier’s 23.5%, former Obama administration official Portia Roberson’s 16.9% and John Conyers III—son of the late longtime Detroit Congressman John Conyers Jr.—a distant third with 8.6%.
Jewish groups such as the AIPAC-affiliated SuperPAC, United Democracy Project (UDP) and Pro-Israel America backed Hollier with UDP spending more than $3 million in the race to offset Thanedar’s self-financing.
Thanedar gave his campaign more than $8 million, dwarfing all other candidates. Hollier, who raised the second-most in the race, had a little less than $1 million, according to the most recent campaign finance report.
The district, which includes Detroit and some of its southern suburbs, is 48% African-American. Most of it has been represented by Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), who decided not to run after the district was redrawn. Hollier hoped to follow Lawrence as the only black member of Michigan’s congressional delegation, but Thanedar’s victory means that Detroit will not have a black representative in Congress for the first time since 1954.
Shri Thanedar will face Republican nominee Martell Bivings
Thanedar, who ran for office for the first time in 2018 in a failed bid to get the Democratic nomination for governor of Michigan, has concerned Jewish organizations regarding his positions on Israel.
In May 2021, during the conflict between Israel and Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Thanedar co-sponsored a resolution in the Michigan House of Representatives that urged Congress to halt military aid to Israel. It said that Israel was involved in the longest military occupation in the world and called Israel an apartheid state.
During his campaign, Thanedar explained the resolution as “an emotional reaction” and outlined a pro-Israel platform on his website, but argued that the United States should play “a crucial role in resolving the conflict.”
Thanedar will face Republican nominee Martell Bivings, who ran unopposed, in the November general election in a safe Democratic seat.
Hollier conceded the race by congratulating Thanedar in a statement and thanked his supporters.
“I gave this race everything I had, and we all worked hard for the causes we believe in—all gas and no brakes since launching our campaign in January,” he wrote. “… Today, it really hurts, but now we must come together and make sure Democrats win up and down the ballot in November.”
Thanedar congratulated his opponents for a hard-fought race and thanked his supporters on Twitter.
“This race was not about me. Michigan’s 13th Congressional district is one of the poorest in the country, and I will fight for economic and racial justice in Congress,” he wrote. “We must continue the fight against the special interests that seek to divide us and prevent us from achieving the basic rights that we all deserve. We have a lot of work in front of us, and you can count on me to continue fighting for our communities.”