LANSING, Mich. — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar is spending nearly $900,000 on TV advertising over the next month, culminating with a new ad his campaign will run during the Super Bowl.
The latest, broader buy is about seven times what he spent to air an initial 30-second ad in December and brings his total advertising purchases to $1 million between Dec. 11 and Feb. 4.
Thanedar, a scientist, businessman and political novice who is self-funding his campaign and needs to raise his name ID with voters before August’s primary election, unveiled a second 30-second ad last week and is working on a third one for the Super Bowl that will cost $150,000 to $200,000 to air. He is focused on four markets: Detroit, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Lansing and Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, which he said account for 75 percent of Democratic primary voters.
The Democratic field also features former legislative leader Gretchen Whitmer, ex-Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed and former Xerox executive Bill Cobbs.
Thanedar said he hopes the ads help him “surge” and “catch up with the front-runner” — presumably Whitmer, who raised $3 million in 2017 and has led polling while securing support from labor unions, other groups and elected officials. Thanedar, who came to the U.S. from India in 1979 and is now a citizen, sold a majority stake in his Ann Arbor-based chemical-testing company in 2016 and as of October had given his campaign nearly $6 million.
In the latest ad, one of Thanedar’s sons says his father came to the United States with just $20 and “a dream” before building small businesses and creating jobs. The ad also casts Thanedar as the most progressive Democrat.
Thanedar’s spending tracks similarly to Rick Snyder’s in 2010, when the largely self-funded political newcomer spent $958,000 in February and March for a series of introductory spots that ran statewide, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, including a 60-second Super Bowl ad that gave Snyder a boost in polling and name recognition. Thanedar has hit the airwaves earlier and is the only gubernatorial candidate in either party to have run ads.
Republicans running include Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines.