Indian American Democrat Shri Thanedar, has declared his candidacy to run for governor in the state of Michigan. “My story is one of grit and determination, of the heights of success and the lessons of failure, of unwavering optimism in the face of harsh adversity,” says the young the scientist, entrepreneur, and now Democratic candidate for Governor of Michigan..
On his mission and why he wants to run to be the governor, Thanedar says, “At critical points in my life, Michigan gave me tremendous opportunities to pursue my dreams. Now I want to give back by serving as governor, using my real-world experience to build a stronger Michigan that puts the people back in power after years of special interest rule.”
Thanedar is mostly self-funding his campaign and has already put $6 million from his own pocket into the election. According to the Detroit Free Press, Thanedar has purchased about $114,000 worth of 30-second commercials before, during and after the Super Bowl, which will be aired live on Feb. 4 on NBC-affiliated stations. “I have very low name ID. I’ve been to every corner of the state, but that doesn’t reach as many people as I want to reach,” Thanedar told the Detroit Free Press.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Thanedar seems to have followed into the current governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder’s footsteps, who also was a businessman from Ann Arbor. Many believe that Thanedar copied Snyder’s strategy. However, Thanedar disagrees.
“I’m a different kind of businessman than Gov. Snyder. I look at the campaign as an entrepreneurial venture. I’m not copying or borrowing anything from anyone else’s book,” he told the Detroit Free Press. According to the Detroit Free Press, Thanedar moved to Michigan in 2010 and is a retired businessman from Ann Arbor.
The young Indian American grew up in Belgaum, India, in a poor family with five siblings. When his father was forced to retire from his government job at the age of 55, his family was faced with severe economic hardship, Thanedar says on his webportal.
“I worked odd jobs to help them out while still in high school and later in college. Watching my mother Inni – a strong woman raising six children on a meager income – I learned frugality, pragmatism, and above all, fearlessness. Shouldering major family responsibilities at the age of 14 taught me the importance of hard work and saving for the future,” he adds.
Thabedar went to college in India, and took a job with the Bhabha Atomic Research Center. But after several run-ins with red tape and authoritarianism, he decided to explore opportunities in the United States.
He came to the US and earned his doctorate in polymer chemistry, then became a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He became an American citizen in 1988, “fulfilling a lifelong dream.”
In 1990 he joined a small chemical services company in St. Louis called Chemir, and when Chemir’s owner announced her intention to retire, Thabedar obtained a bank loan to purchase the three-person company. Under his able leadership, Chemir grew from a tiny lab to 400 employees with more than $60 million in revenue.
Like so many Michiganders, Thanedar and his company took a hard punch from the great recession. Like many Michigan businesses, his firm suffered a severe downturn. “My business was taken by the bank and, like many Michigan homes, my dream home was foreclosed. In the end, every cent was paid back, but I had to start over,” Thanedar says with a sense of pride and determination.
“In 2010, we packed up a truck and returned to Michigan. At the age of 55, I restarted my business from scratch in Ann Arbor, creating nearly 50 high-paying jobs. In 2016, I sold my business, gave my staff $1.5 million in holiday bonuses, and decided to devote the rest of my life to public service.”
Having gone through severe hardships in life, Thanedar says, “All Michiganders deserve an equal shot at success, but for far too long our leaders have favored the wealthy over the middle class. I am the only candidate in this race who knows what it’s like to go hungry. I am the only candidate who has created a single job. And I know what role our government can serve in helping people and small businesses get on a path to financial stability. I’m going to make Michigan’s government work for everyone again – not just the people at the top.
“That’s why I have named our campaign “Shri for We.” I will change the status quo in Lansing, and put “we, the people” back in charge of our government,” Thanedar adds. If elected, the Indian American leader says, he will work for policies that lift up working families through access to quality education and job training, allowing them to get good paying jobs that provide a comfortable life and a secure retirement. “It’s time to level the playing field so that every Michigander has an opportunity to pursue their dreams.”