Democrat Gupta raises $501K in bid to replace Trott

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Democrat Suneel Gupta raised just over $501,000 in his first fund-raising period and has over $469,000 on hand, his campaign said.

Gupta, 38, of Birmingham launched his campaign for Congress about a month ago, hoping to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Trott of Birmingham in the 11th District.

A spokeswoman said the candidate himself did not loan the campaign any money and contributed the maximum permitted for an individual, $5,400. The campaign spent roughly $32,000 in the quarter ending Dec. 31.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support. People are tired of politics as usual, and they're responding to our message,” Gupta said in a statement. “I’ve demonstrated that I can get things done, and I intend to continue doing so for the people of the 11th District as their next congressman.”

Gupta recently moved back to Michigan after spending time last year as a visiting scholar at Harvard University. He co-founded Rise, a mobile health company in 2013, with older brother Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for CNN.

He previously served as vice president of product development for then-startup GroupOn Inc., based in Chicago.

His campaign claimed Gupta's first fund-raising haul is a record for a candidate in the 11th District, outpacing the first quarter fund-raising of every candidate who has run for the seat since the redistricting after the 2000 census.

The campaign is discounting the $648,519 reported by Trott in October 2013, arguing that Trott himself had chipped in $208,401 of that total.

Republican Lena Epstein, who started out in the race for U.S. Senate last year before switching to the House, loaned her campaign about $250,000 and raised $211,238 in other contributions during her first fund-raising quarter.

Haley Stevens, a Democrat from Rochester Hills, raised more than $320,000 during her first fund-raising quarter as of July 2017. Another Democrat in the race, Fayrouz Saad of Northville, raised more than $250,575 during her first quarter as of October.

Candidates’ fund-raising reports for the last quarter of 2017 aren’t due to the Federal Election Commission until Jan. 31.

Other candidates in the race include Democrats Dan Haberman of Birmingham and state Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills. The Republicans include state Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township, former state Reps. Rocky Raczkowski of Troy and Kurt Heise of Plymouth, and former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Milford, who lost the 11th District seat to Trott.

Trott announced last fall that he is retiring at the end of his term. He beat Democrat Anil Kumar of Bloomfield Township in 2016 by nearly 13 percentage points, but Democrats believe they can flip the seat to blue.

In the 9th District, where longtime Royal Oak Democratic Rep. Sander Levin is retiring, his son Andy Levin of Bloomfield Township raised $123,000 since entering the race three weeks ago, his campaign said.

That total came from nearly 250 donors — two-thirds of whom are from Michigan, said campaign spokeswoman Jen Eyer. The campaign ended the year with roughly $118,000 on hand after roughly $5,000 in expenses.

“We’re building momentum very quickly around a new movement for the middle class and all who aspire to it,” Andy Levin said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the support and energized and ready to get out there and earn every single vote.”

He is a former head of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth and founded two clean energy companies, including Lean and Green Michigan.

Other candidates in the race include Democratic state Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren; former state Rep. Ellen Lipton, D-Huntington Woods; and Democrat Martin Brook of Bloomfield Township, as well as Republican businesswoman Candius Stearns of Sterling Heights.

Other Democrats looking at the race are Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner and businessman Kevin Howley, both of Huntington Woods.