Thanedar forms committee to explore run for Congress in Detroit

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — Democratic former gubernatorial hopeful Shri Thanedar said he is forming an exploratory committee to run for Congress in Detroit in a new district that would likely mean a primary challenge against two-term U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib. 

Thanedar, a chemist and millionaire, served a single term in Lansing as a state representative for the 3rd District in Detroit. 

His current state House district falls within a new congressional district — No. 13 in draft maps — which has not yet been made official as part of the redistricting process but would encompass the bulk of the city.

“Working for the people of Michigan in the State House is an honor and privilege," Thanedar said in a statement. "This work has strengthened my desire for public service and I am ready for higher office."

Shri Thanedar at Seven Mile and Mound Road during a previous campaign.

Thanedar, 66, moved to Detroit from Ann Arbor in 2019 aiming to cash in on his high name familiarity after losing the 2018 gubernatorial primary. 

His campaign in that race pumped out "Shri for We" television ads. Thanedar won the city of Detroit in the Democratic primary, but he finished third behind Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Abdul El-Sayed after spending almost $10 million of his own fortune on the race.

Last fall, Thanedar won a seat in the state House and has introduced 18 bills and resolutions in the Legislature and has co-sponsored over 200 others, including a bill to bring $94 million to the Detroit Public Schools Community District, according to a news release. 

“I am looking for an opportunity to serve Michigan residents at the national level focusing on bringing federal dollars to the state of Michigan," he said.

Thanedar said his priorities in Congress would be public safety, education equity, Medicare for All, paid family leave, lower prescription drug prices, universal basic income, and clean air and water.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib

As the redistricting process continues, Tlaib, D-Detroit, has not announced which district she intends to run in, but she is expected to pursue draft District 13. She is the only member of Michigan's delegation who lives in Detroit, and that district includes much of her current territory. 

"Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is laser-focused on delivering results for the 13th Congressional District while pushing for generational change that will transform the lives of residents," campaign spokesman LaMar Thompson-Hightower said Monday.

"As a result, she has delivered over a $1 billion to stop water shutoffs and has ensured that the current budget reconciliation bills includes billions for lead pipe replacement, affordable housing and home repair," Thompson-Hightower said. "She has also been a leader in fighting against discriminatory auto insurance practices and environmental injustices." 

Tlaib, 45, enjoys widespread name recognition as a member of the progressive "Squad" in Congress and has generally been a strong fundraiser. She raised nearly $358,500 last quarter and had $1.16 million in cash reserves as of Sept. 30.

Tlaib last year defeated Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones in the Democratic primary and went on to win a second term to represent the 13th District, which includes parts of Detroit and Wayne County suburbs including Highland Park, Inkster, River Rouge, Ecorse, Westland and part of Romulus. 

mburke@detroitnews.com