Sanu Patel-Zellinger is on her third round of door-knocking practically every home in House District 40B. The GOP challenger estimates that her campaign has made contact with nearly 90 percent of residents in the south Bloomington district.
“We appear to be neck and neck,” says Patel-Zellinger, of her prospects. “We’re getting great feedback when we’re out doorknocking.”
That assessment would seem to be wildly optimistic based on recent electoral history in the district. Incumbent Ann Lenczewski has won her last three campaigns by more than 30 percentage points. Few political observers consider the influential chair of the House Taxes committee to be in serious peril.
But Republicans are extremely enthusiastic about Patel-Zellinger’s candidacy. And in a year where the GOP appears to be ascendant the race merits watching. The Indian-born marketing executive’s resume includes stints at Minnesota-based retailing giants Target and Best Buy. She’s lived in Minnesota for two decades and became a U.S. citizen in 1998.
“She is an exciting candidate,” says Rep. Laura Brod, GOP-New Prague, who has spent considerable time stumping for other legislative candidates this campaign season. “She’s got a great background in business that would be very beneficial to the state. … She truly understand that in order for our state to be competitive we’ve got to be competitive on a worldwide basis.”
As of the pre-primary campaign finance filing deadline, the GOP challenger had raised slightly more than $12,000. Lenczewski had taken in roughly twice that amount.
Patel-Zellinger says she was motivated to seek office for the first time because of the dismal economy and high levels of unemployment. “That just got me off the couch,” she says. “I need to do my piece to help my community.”