Chirinjeev Kathuria plans to run for Illinois governor

Updated on Aug 03, 2005 12:08 PM IST

The space travel buff is planning to run for the post after a failed bid last year for the US Senate.

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PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, Chicago

Illinois-based entrepreneur and space travel buff Chirinjeev Kathuria is planning to run for lieutenant governor after a failed bid last year for the US Senate.

While he has not formally announced his candidacy, Kathuria said he had sent letters and brochures asking for support to the 101 state Republican party county chairmen, 101 deputy county chairs, Republican Illinois assembly representatives and senators and to all precinct committeemen.

"It's too early to say anything about endorsements. We are making a formal announcement about the candidacy on Aug 18, but I put the website up ahead of time," Kathuria told IANS.

Recently, Kathuria bought up a Canadian company that is building a rocket for commercial space flights, a dream he tried to make come true when four years ago he bought into MirCorp, a Russian company that flew the first Space Tourist Dennis Tito into orbit.

The Indian American argues that for the Republican Party to take back the governor's mansion in Chicago, it has to get the support of minorities -- and what better minority than himself to bring in those votes.

"In Illinois there are 700,000 registered Hispanic voters, 960,000 registered African American voters and over 400,000 Asian Americans, of whom probably 25 percent are registered voters. It also has 900,000 independent voters, who by the way endorsed me when I ran for the US Senate last year," Kathuria said.

The bearded, turbaned Sikh has sold his seemingly different look as well as his stellar academic and business credentials into an advantage - a graduate in medicine from Brown University, an MBA from Stanford, a business gadfly who has put his finger into unusual and well oiled schemes that have evidently paid off to make him one of the wealthiest candidates to run for state office.

But, as Kathuria continues to argue, the Republicans would do well to broaden their base. And if he was to get the nomination at the March 21, 2006, primaries, money would begin to come into his campaign not just from citizens of the state but from Indian Americans around the country, thus costing the party less to have him on the ticket.

Plus there is the fact that so far he is the only minority candidate running for that office.

"For a Republican governor to win, he needs to attract the minority - and by having me on the ticket, the chances are better," he said.

Republicans have controlled the governorship for decades except for the last one where they lost it to a Democrat.

Kathuria is trying to do things differently in his run for lt. governor than his bid for the Senate.

"When I announced for the US Senate I did not have a website up and sent a letter only just prior to the election. So this time, I had the website up and running eight months before the election," he noted.

Apart from Kathuria, the other announced candidates for lt. governor are state representative Raymond Poe and Kane county recorder, ex-Gail Borden Library trustee Sandy Wegman.

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