Gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar, a political newcomer who has spent millions of own dollars branding himself as a “fiscally savvy Bernie” Sanders, has settled into his new role as a champion for civil rights.
At least for now.
The Indian immigrant, who has routinely discarded his top campaign aides in search of a political platform, appears to have found one with his latest campaign manager, Rev. David Alexander Bullock, an activist and former host of 910AM Superstation.
When Bullock was arrested outside of his church in Highland Park on Sunday for allegedly interfering with a police investigation, Thanedar defended Bullock and called for an investigation in a Facebook video posted the next day.
“Every day we hear countless stories about African American men subject to racial profiling by police,” Thanedar said. “Yesterday, it happened to a friend of mine and it hurts even more. My friend, a man of faith and my campaign manager, David Bullock, was arrested at his church yesterday morning. I demand a thorough investigation to give justice to David Bullock. I also pray God that David Bullock has the strength to deal with this terrible tragedy.”
Thanedar has no history of fighting for civil rights – or any progressive issue. Yet the businessman with no political background is leading his two Democratic challengers – Abdul El-Sayed and Gretchen Whitmer – because he is pouring millions of dollars into radio and television ads.
Until last year, Thanedar was unsure whether he was going to run as a Republican, Democrat or independent, according to at least four political consultants who advised the businessman before he entered the race.
In April, Thanedar was widely criticized and mocked for posting a photo on Facebook that showed him eating fried chicken at Popeyes as he prepared to participate in a debate by the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus.
how’s shri thanedar gonna explain this one away? you may have deleted it but screenshots are forever pic.twitter.com/AzJirzst7M
— carrie fisher hates ICE ✨ (@comrade_amal) April 8, 2018
About the same time, Thanedar was asked by a pastor in Detroit about his position on redlining. Thanedar admitted he didn’t know redlining was.
Whatever the case, the questionable arrest of Bullock has opened a political opportunity for Thanedar.
On Sunday, a congregant at Bullock’s church called police after a woman with a seeming mental illness attacked two church members in the parking lot. When Bullock approached police while they were questioning one of the victims, a white officer with a checkered past appears to have pushed the pastor back while he was retreating.
“You’re not welcome over here while I’m doing my investigation,” Officer Keath Bartynski said, although Bullock was on his own property and advising the victim that she was not required to show her identification or answer any questions because she was not suspected of committing a crime.
Bullock, who was wearing a tan suit, returned with his arms crossed around his chest. The officer responded by grabbing Bullock’s folded arms, handcuffing him and arresting him. Bullock was taken away in a police car and ticketed with misdemeanor charges of obstructing a police investigation and refusing to identify himself at the jail.
Bullock was fired from his 910AM job in May because it’s unethical to be a radio host while simultaneously serving as a campaign manager for a major political candidate.
Bullock addressed the actions of police on another radio station, where he hosts a 30-minute daily show.
According to police records, Bartynski resigned as a Bay City cop after he assaulted a man at a bar in May 2013 and confiscated his phone. He was convicted of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to six months’ probation.
Thanedar couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.