David E. Bonior

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David Edward Bonior
House Minority Whip
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 15, 2002
Leader Dick Gephardt
Preceded by Newt Gingrich
Succeeded by Nancy Pelosi
House Majority Whip
In office
September 11, 1991 – January 3, 1995
Speaker Tom Foley
Leader Dick Gephardt
Preceded by William H. Gray III
Succeeded by Tom DeLay
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan's 12th district
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by James G. O'Hara
Succeeded by Sander Levin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan's 10th district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Dave Camp
Succeeded by Candice Miller
Personal details
Born (1945-06-06) June 6, 1945 (age 70)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Judy Bonior
Military service
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1968-1972
Rank Staff Sergeant

David Edward Bonior (born June 6, 1945) is an American politician from the US state of Michigan. First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, Bonior served as Democratic whip in the House from 1991 to 2002, during which time Democrats were in both the majority (1991–1995) and minority (1995–2002), making Bonior the third and second highest-ranking Democrat in the House, respectively. During his tenure in office, Bonior was the public face of Democratic opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),[1] and was known for his tenacity in opposing Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, against whom Bonior filed more than seventy-five ethics charges.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bonior traces his family history from Ukraine and Poland.[3][4] He was born in Detroit, Michigan, and graduated from Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods, Michigan, in 1963 where he excelled in sports. He received a B.A. from the University of Iowa, where he also played football and became a member of the Iowa Beta chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, in 1967. He received an M.A. from Chapman College in Orange, California in 1972. He served in the United States Air Force during the peak of the Vietnam War, from 1968 to 1972. However, he did not serve in Vietnam. He was a founder of the Vietnam Era Veterans Caucus on Capitol Hill and was a strong support of the Vietnam veterans' movement.

Political career[edit]

Bonior was a Democratic member of the Michigan State House of Representatives from 1973 to 1976. In 1976, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan's 12th District (based in Macomb County) for the 95th and to the twelve succeeding Congresses, serving from January 3, 1977 to January 3, 2003. His district was renumbered as the 10th in 1993, after Michigan lost a House seat as a result of the 1990 United States Census.

From 1991 to 2002, Bonior was the House Democratic Whip. He served as Majority Whip in the 102nd and 103rd Congresses. He was Minority Whip for the 104th through 107th Congresses. While the Democrats were in the majority, Bonior was the third-ranking Democrat in the House, behind Speaker Tom Foley and House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt. While they were in the minority, Bonior was second-in-command behind Gephardt.

In Congress, Bonior generally had a progressive voting record, but opposed abortion in most cases.[5]

For most of his tenure in Congress, Bonior represented a fairly compact district in Macomb and St. Clair counties northeast of Detroit. However, after the 2000 United States Census, Michigan lost one of its 16 seats in the House of Representatives. The redistricting process was controlled by the Republican majority in the state legislature, and Bonior's home in Mount Clemens was shifted from the 10th District to the 12th District. That district had long been represented by Democrat Sandy Levin, a longtime friend of Bonior's. At the same time, the state legislature radically altered the 10th, extending it all the way to the Thumb. The new 10th was considerably more rural and Republican than its predecessor; George W. Bush narrowly won the old 10th, but would have won the new 10th by a large margin. By all accounts, the 10th had been redrawn for popular Republican Michigan Secretary of State and Macomb County resident Candice Miller.

Bonior opted to run for Governor of Michigan, and stepped down as House Democratic Whip in early 2002. He lost in a heavily-contested primary between former Governor James Blanchard, and then-Michigan Attorney General and eventual nominee Jennifer Granholm, who went on to be elected to two terms as governor. Meanwhile, Candice Miller easily won Bonior's old House seat and still holds it today.

Post-congressional career[edit]

Following his retirement from the House, Bonior became a professor of labor studies at Wayne State University,[6] and founded American Rights at Work, a union advocacy organization of which he currently serves as Chairman.[7] In 2006, former Senator John Edwards chose Bonior to run his campaign for the presidency in 2008.[8] Bonior served as campaign manager for the duration of Edwards' candidacy. Upon the election of Barack Obama in November 2008, Bonior was a member of the President-Elect's economic advisory board.[9] He was honored by the Democratic Socialists of America in December 2008.[10]

Bonior's Congressional District from 1993 to 2003

He has also become a restaurateur, owning and operating the restaurants Agua 301 and Zest.[11]


  1. ^ Akers, Mary Ann. Where Are They Now? David Bonior, Bill Clinton washingtonpost.com The Sleuth. 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  2. ^ CNN-Time All Politics. Players: David A. (sic.) Bonior, 1997-03-03. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  3. ^ "A Family Journey into Industrial America". Macomb Community College. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  4. ^ GREETINGS, CONGRATULATIONS AND BEST WISHES, The Ukrainian Weekly (8 December 1991)
  5. ^ Sometimes it helps to get outraged: David Bonior is passionate about issues. That's one of the reasons he visited Iraq. Now he's on the receiving end of a lot of anger – Cover Story | National Catholic Reporter | Find Articles at BNET.com
  6. ^ Wayne State University Public Relations. Former U.S. Congressman David Bonior donates personal papers to Wayne State University's Walter P. Reuther Library. 2003-02-19. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  7. ^ American Rights at Work. David Bonior. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  8. ^ Christensen, Rob. Edwards aide seen as pit bull. Raleigh News & Observer 2006-12-11. Retrieved 2008-08-08
  9. ^ Zeleny, Jeff; Calmes, Jackie (7 November 2008). "Obama Seeks Speedy Action on Economy". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  10. ^ http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/04/who_are_the_socialists_in_amer.html
  11. ^ Nnamdi, Kojo (4 February 2015). "How Congress Has Shaped D.C.'s Dining Culture". The Kojo Nnamdi Show. WAMU. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James G. O'Hara
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 12th congressional district

Succeeded by
Sander Levin
Preceded by
Dave Camp
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
Candice S. Miller
Party political offices
Preceded by
William H. Gray III
House Majority Whip
Succeeded by
Tom DeLay
House Democratic Whip
Succeeded by
Nancy Pelosi
Preceded by
Newt Gingrich
House Minority Whip