Congressman Shri Thanedar in the hot seat as 2024 election looms

In an interview with WDET, Thanedar said he’s still focused on serving the people who elected him to Michigan’s 13th Congressional district.

Shri Thanedar in-studio at WDET-FM on Oct. 20, 2022.

Shri Thanedar in-studio at WDET-FM on Oct. 20, 2022.

Shri Thanedar’s election to a Detroit-centric Congressional seat last year was divisive. He’d only recently moved to the city and left America’s largest majority-Black city without African-American representation.

Thanedar edged out a large field of candidates in the 2022 primary and now challengers are coming for him again.

Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Waters and former State Sen. Adam Hollier are among those vying for the seat.

In an interview with WDET, Thanedar said he’s still focused on serving the people who elected him to Michigan’s 13th Congressional district.

“The primary is 10 months away. The filing deadline is five months away. I am focused on my job,” Thanedar said. “I go visit with my constituents. I continuously communicate with my constituents. I serve at their mercy.”

Listen: Full WDET interview with U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar about his goals leading up to the 2024 election

Thanedar has been the primary sponsor or co-sponsor of nine bills and signed on to another 200 or so bills. Though a couple have bipartisan support, they’ve gotten zero traction in a Republican-controlled U.S. House.

As for what he wants to accomplish next year, Thanedar says he plans to focus on racial justice and helping small business owners.

“We can only create financial prosperity through giving people the skills they need to get good jobs, giving people the startup capital, the business knowledge so they can start their own businesses support their these entrepreneurial ventures, especially among Black and brown communities,” he said.

Still, Thanedar has some negative perceptions to overcome. Recently, a staffer accused the congressman of ignoring his constituents. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) — who before moving to the 12th represented much of Thanedar’s current district — accused Thanedar of being “too busy posting memes” instead of helping people.

It’s criticism that Thanedar shakes off.

“I have a nearly 100% voting record. So I’m always there, I show up. And then I communicate a lot with my constituents. Now, the attacks that happened, largely happened after my position on the Israel and Hamas war,” Thanedar said. “And a lot of those attacks appears to be motivated by those.”

Following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas that killed 1,200 Israelis, Thanedar threw his support behind Israel and condemned what he called antisemitic language used by Tlaib and a Democratic Socialist chapter in New York.

“We cannot accept and tolerate terrorism. Hamas clearly is a terroristic organization. Oct. 7, their actions, [those] acts were barbaric, and the attack on Israel was not acceptable. Hamas needs to be eliminated from the face of the earth. That’s my position,” he said.

As for the 12,000 dead Palestinians in Gaza, Thanedar has called for a humanitarian pause to get in supplies.

“I’ve asked for a pause that will facilitate the hostage releases, we need to… get a release of all of those hostages,” Thanedar said. “Humanitarian concerns are critical.”

Thanedar’s position on Israel has changed over the years. When he was a Michigan state representative, he co-sponsored a resolution to end U.S. funding of the Israeli military.

Adam Hollier, who is running against Thanedar in 2024, accepted over $1 million dollars from a pro-Israel political action committee in 2022.

For the largely self-funded Thanedar, the change in stance could be another shrewd business move.

Ed. Note: This story has been updated to update the number of bills Congressman Thanedar has co-sponsored.

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.