Shri Thanedar
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 13th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2023
Preceded byRashida Tlaib (redistricting)
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 3rd district
In office
January 1, 2021 – January 1, 2023
Preceded byWendell Byrd
Succeeded byAlabas Farhat
Personal details
Born (1955-02-22) February 22, 1955 (age 68)
Chikkodi, Karnataka, India
CitizenshipIndia (1955–1988)
United States (1988–present)
Political partyDemocratic
Other political
affiliations
Democratic Socialists of America (until 2023)
Spouses
Shamal
(m. 1984; died 1996)
Shashi
(m. 1999)
Children2
EducationKarnatak University (BS)
University of Mumbai (MS)
University of Akron (PhD)
WebsiteHouse website

Shri Thanedar (/ˈtænədɑːr/ TAN-ə-dar; born February 22, 1955) is an American businessman, author, and politician serving as the U.S. representative from Michigan's 13th congressional district since 2023.[1][2][3] A member of the Democratic Party, Thanedar served as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 2021 to 2023.[4] He was also a candidate in the Democratic primary for governor of Michigan in the 2018 election.

Early life and education

Thanedar grew up in a lower-income family in Belgaum, India. When his father was forced to retire at age 55, the 14-year-old Thanedar worked odd jobs to support his family of eight. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at 18 and then attended a master's program at University of Bombay.[5] He came to the U.S. in 1979 to pursue a PhD at the University of Akron, which he earned in 1982.[6] Thanedar became a U.S. citizen in 1988.

Business career

Thanedar did post-doctoral work at the University of Michigan before taking a job in 1984 as a researcher at Petrolite Corp.[6]

Chemir

In 1990, Thanedar took a job working nights and weekends for $15/hour at Chemir/Polytech Laboratories to learn the business. He took out a loan to buy Chemir in 1991 for $75,000. Sales in the first year were $150,000 and the business had three employees. By 2005, Chemir's revenues were $16 million and it employed 160 people, including 40 PhD chemists.[5]

Thanedar borrowed $24 million from Bank of America to finance seven acquisitions, offering the bank a personal guarantee to back the debt.[7] One acquisition, Azopharma, grew rapidly from $1 million in 2003 to $55 million in 2008.[8] Thanedar's group of companies employed 500 people in 2008.[7]

During the 2007–10 recession in the United States, Azopharma's revenue fell by 70%, triggering bankruptcy proceedings by Bank of America.[8] Azopharma closed and its assets were sold for $2 million.[7] During the bankruptcy proceedings, AniClin, one of Azopharma's research facilities of which Thanedar was the sole owner, abruptly closed; a 2010 USA Today article claimed that laboratory animals were abandoned at the facility after the company was placed in receivership.[9] According to later reports, animal welfare organizations facilitated the adoption of all animals in the facility, and Thanedar denied that any animals were abandoned.[10] Chemir remained profitable throughout the legal proceedings and was sold on March 31, 2011, for $23 million.[11] That sale plus the combined assets in the firm covered Thanedar's debt to Bank of America.[8]

Avomeen

Thanedar briefly retired in 2010, then came out of retirement later that year to launch Avomeen Analytical Services, an Ann Arbor-based chemical testing laboratory, with his son Neil.[12] Avomeen was named to the INC 5000 list of fastest-growing U.S. companies in 2015 (#673) and 2016 (#1365).[13] In 2016, Thanedar sold a majority stake in the business to private equity firm High Street Capital.[14] He shared $1.5 million of the proceeds with his 50 employees.[15]

Thanedar was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Central Midwest Region (Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska) in 1999, 2007, and 2016.[16][17] He maintains 40% ownership of Avomeen.[15]

Lawsuit

In November 2017, a buyer of Avomeen Holdings LLC filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, claiming Thanedar made "fraudulent and misleading representations" of his company's finances in order to sell the majority stake in November 2016.[18] Thanedar denies the allegations, saying that revenues "are anticipated to significantly exceed" those of past periods.[19] U.S. District Judge Gershwin A. Drain dismissed the case in August 2019, citing a notice from Thanedar and Avomeen Holdings LLC that they had reached an agreement to resolve the matter out of court.[20]

Early political career

Thanedar on The Bart Hawley Show, 2018.

Thanedar entered politics when he ran in the 2018 Michigan gubernatorial election as a Democrat.[3] His political platform included a $15 minimum wage, public education reform, infrastructure improvements, and increased government transparency.[21]

2018 gubernatorial campaign

Main article: 2018 Michigan gubernatorial election

On April 5, 2017, Thanedar submitted paperwork to raise funds for a potential gubernatorial campaign in Michigan.[22] On June 8, he officially announced his candidacy for governor of Michigan in the 2018 Democratic primary.[23] He pledged not to accept any corporate political action committee donations.[24] Thanedar contributed $10.6 million of his own money to his campaign.[25] Early polling in 2017 showed him in last place at 2% to 3%.[citation needed] After running a statewide Super Bowl ad in February 2018, he quickly became the best-known Democratic candidate for governor.[26] Thanedar won statewide Democratic polls in March (21% to 18%) and April (30% to 26%) versus Gretchen Whitmer, the presumptive Democratic front-runner.[citation needed]

As Thanedar's campaign gained public traction in early 2018, reporters at The Intercept and HuffPost began investigating Thanedar's history.[27][9] Thanedar had not held elective office before running for governor in 2017, so he did not have an official record as a Democrat. Campaign finance records show that he made 18 donations to Democratic campaigns and one to a Republican campaign before running for office.[21] The Republican donation, $2,300 to the Republican presidential campaign of John McCain, led to controversy that Thanedar might not be as progressive as he claimed.[28] Political strategists who met with Thanedar before his 2018 campaign also claimed that he initially questioned whether he wanted to run as a Democrat or Republican in the gubernatorial race.[29] Thanedar denied the claims, saying that these strategists were criticizing him because he did not hire their firms.[29] He also faced allegations that laboratory animals were abandoned at one of his former research facilities after Bank of America placed that business into receivership in 2010, which he denied.[9][30]

These controversies hurt Thanedar's campaign and he failed to poll over 30% again. In the primary, he won the City of Detroit, but finished third statewide; he received 200,645 votes (17.7%), placing him in third behind Whitmer's 588,436 votes (52.0%) and Abdul El-Sayed's 342,179 votes (30.2%).[31][32][33] Thanedar's support was heavily concentrated in cities like Detroit, Flint, Inkster, and Pontiac with high African American populations.[34][35][36]

Thanedar's campaign had spent more money than any other candidate's in either the Democratic or Republican gubernatorial primary. The roughly $10.3 million his campaign spent accounted for nearly one third of the cumulative spending of all candidates in the primaries.[37]

2020 Michigan House of Representatives campaign

In August 2019, Thanedar submitted paperwork to run for state representative in Michigan's 3rd district, a portion of the upper east side of Detroit. On August 4, 2020, he won the Democratic primary for the seat.[38] On November 3, 2020, Thanedar was elected to the state house.[39] He assumed office on January 1, 2021.[40]

U.S. House of Representatives

Thanedar speaks at Executive Connect in 2023.

Political positions

Israel

Thanedar previously co-sponsored a resolution to halt aid to Israel, describing it as an Apartheid state, in Michigan House of Representatives. The next year, he faced opposition from American Israel Public Affairs Committee in his run for the US House. In summer 2023, he traveled to Israel on an AIPAC affiliated trip. On return, he described the relationship between Israel and the United States as mutually beneficial.[41]

On October 11, 2023, the Detroit Free Press reported that Thanedar had "renounced his membership in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), saying it hasn't adequately denounced Hamas for its 'brutal terrorist attacks' on Israel last weekend."[42]

Syria

In 2023, Thanedar was among 56 Democrats to vote in favor of H.Con.Res. 21, which directed President Joe Biden to remove U.S. troops from Syria within 180 days.[43][44] The measure, which was introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., was defeated by a vote of 321-103.

Elections

2022

See also: 2022 United States House of Representatives elections in Michigan § District 13

In 2022, Thanedar gave up his state house seat to run for Michigan's 13th congressional district. The incumbent, Rashida Tlaib, had her home drawn into the 12th district and was reelected there. Thanedar won the open primary, defeating state senator Adam Hollier and others.[45] He defeated Republican nominee Martell Bivings in the November 8 general election.

Caucus memberships

In September 2023, Thanedar formally launched the Dharma Caucus, stating bipartisan support from 27 lawmakers across 4 faiths. Thanedar stated the caucus “is a statement of commitment to stand against religious discrimination, to propel the wheels of inclusion, and to cultivate a nation where diversity is not only tolerated, but celebrated". A few weeks after the caucus was formally announced, members of several predominant Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh organizations put out a joint statement voicing concern from the lack of input from the broader South Asian community.[48]

Committee assignments

Personal life

Thanedar married his first wife, Shamal, in 1984. The couple had two sons and were married until Shamal's death from suicide in 1996. In 1999, Thanedar married his current wife, Shashi.[49]

Autobiographies

Thanedar has written two autobiographies. ही 'श्री' ची इच्छा! (Transliteration: Hī Śrī Cī Icchā; English: This is Shri's Wish) is an autobiography in Marathi, published in 2004. In 2008, Thanedar self-published his memoirs in English, The Blue Suitcase: Tragedy and Triumph in an Immigrant's Life.[50]

References

  1. ^ Reporter, India-West Staff. "'EY Entrepreneur of the Year' Shri Thanedar Files to Run for Governor of Michigan". India West. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  2. ^ Thanedar, Shri. THE BLUE SUITCASE: Tragedy and Triumph in an Immigrant's Life.
  3. ^ a b "Rags-to-riches entrepreneur to launch run for governor". Detroit News. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  4. ^ Rosekrans, Neil. "Shri Thanedar For Michigan – 3rd District of Michigan". Shri Thanedar For Michigan. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Mccoy, Michael (2006). "C&EN TALKS WITH". Chemical & Engineering News. 84 (46): 29. doi:10.1021/cen-v084n046.p029.
  6. ^ a b "Thanedar tests his way to $16 million". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Gallagher, Jim. "Shri Thanedar succeeds in St. Louis, fails, then rises again in Michigan". stltoday.com. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Gallagher, Jim. "Gallagher: Immigrant millionaire's reversal is cautionary tale". stltoday.com. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Marans, Daniel (April 25, 2018). "Over 100 Dogs And Monkeys Were Rescued From Michigan Democrat's Shuttered Company". HuffPost. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  10. ^ "Thanedar denies responsibility for beagles abandoned in testing lab in 2010". Detroit Free Press. April 26, 2018. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  11. ^ Chemir auctioned off for $23 million
  12. ^ "Retired from retirement, Avomeen founder works on his next boom". Crain's Detroit Business. September 27, 2013. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  13. ^ "Avomeen Analytical Services: Number 1365 on the 2016 Inc. 5000". Inc.com. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  14. ^ "Private equity firm buys controlling interest in Avomeen". Crain's Detroit Business. November 23, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Ann Arbor CEO surprises employees with $1.5 million in holiday bonuses". MLive.com. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  16. ^ 2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, for the Central Midwest Region
  17. ^ "Ann Arbor businessman Shri Thanedar to announce run for governor". June 7, 2017.
  18. ^ Gibbons, Lauren (November 15, 2017). "Gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar sued over fraud claims". MLive.
  19. ^ "Thanedar fights business fraud lawsuit as 'false'". Detroit News. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  20. ^ Oosting, Jonathan. "Thanedar settles business fraud lawsuit four days before trial". The Detroit News. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  21. ^ a b Huffman, Bryce (June 8, 2017). "Ann Arbor businessman Shri Thanedar is running for governor". www.michiganradio.org. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  22. ^ Oosting, Jonathan (April 20, 2017). "Entrepreneur of year files for Michigan governor run". The Detroit News. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  23. ^ "Rags-to-riches entrepreneur to launch run for governor". Detroit News. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  24. ^ "Thanedar touts work in science in 1st ad of governor's race". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  25. ^ "'No regrets' for Thanedar after putting $10.6M into campaign". Detroit News. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  26. ^ Ikonomova, Violet. "This political outsider is now the best-known Democrat in Michigan's race for governor". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  27. ^ Jilani, Zaid (April 6, 2018). "A Bernie-Branded Millionaire Is Leading the Democratic Race for Governor. He Almost Ran as a Republican, Consultants Say". The Intercept. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  28. ^ "The Bizarro-World Trump Storming Michigan Politics". POLITICO Magazine. June 24, 2018. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  29. ^ a b Friess, Steve (June 24, 2018). "The Bizarro-World Trump Storming Michigan Politics". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  30. ^ "Thanedar denies responsibility for beagles abandoned in testing lab in 2010". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  31. ^ "2018 Michigan Official Primary Election Results – 08/07/2018". mielections.us. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  32. ^ "August 7, 2018 Unofficial Primary Election Results". City of Detroit. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  33. ^ "2018 Michigan Official Primary Election Results – 08/07/2018". mielections.us. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  34. ^ "August 7, 2018 Unofficial Primary Election Results". City of Detroit. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  35. ^ "Genesee County Michigan Primary Election Results" (PDF).
  36. ^ "Thread by @nwarikoo: "Shri Thanedar said some have suggested he run for Detroit Mayor"".
  37. ^ Egan, Paul (September 7, 2018). "No regrets for Thanedar after spending $10.3M on failed bid for governor". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  38. ^ "Michigan Primary Election Results for State House District 3 on Aug. 4, 2020". WDIV-TV. July 28, 2020. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  39. ^ "Michigan Elections Results - State House - District 3 - General". Advance Publications. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  40. ^ "Shri Thanedar". Ballotpedia. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  41. ^ Rod, Marc (August 22, 2023). "In 2022, AIPAC opposed Shri Thanedar. This month he went to Israel with the group". Jewish Insider. Retrieved December 21, 2023.
  42. ^ Shri Thanedar quits Democratic Socialists for failing to denounce Hamas attacks, Detroit Free Press, October 11, 2023
  43. ^ "H.Con.Res. 21: Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of … -- House Vote #136 -- Mar 8, 2023".
  44. ^ "House Votes Down Bill Directing Removal of Troops From Syria". Associated Press. March 8, 2023.
  45. ^ Rahal, Sarah (August 2, 2022). "Rep. Shri Thanedar wins Democratic primary in 13th District race for Congress". The Detroit News. Retrieved August 3, 2022.
  46. ^ Solender, Andrew (November 13, 2022). "Jayapal touts power of progressives after big midterm gains". Axios. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  47. ^ "Endorsed Candidates". NewDem Action Fund. Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  48. ^ "Lawmaker's 'Dharma Caucus' stirs suspicion from Hindu and Sikh groups". Washington Post. October 18, 2023. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  49. ^ Friess, Steve (June 24, 2018). "The Bizarro-World Trump Storming Michigan Politics". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  50. ^ The Blue Suitcase"Book – Shri Thanedar". shrithanedar.com. Retrieved January 24, 2018.