Capitalists On Capitol Hill: Meet 10 Exceptional Entrepreneurs Running For Congress In 2018

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ho becomes a Congressman? Lawyers, veterans, teachers—and a surprising number of entrepreneurs.

A Forbes analysis found that entrepreneurs make up about 16% of Congress today. Roughly 18% of House members are entrepreneurs. That figure is lower in the Senate, some 9%. 

As for the 900-plus contenders running for election on Tuesday, the analysis found 168 entrepreneurs, approximately 18% of the total. Of those 168, 60% are challengers. Ten of the most standout entrepreneurs are highlighted below.

— Madeline Berg, Abram Brown, Carter Coudriet, Noah Kirsch and Chase Peterson-Withorn

Read more from Forbes on the 2018 election:

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1. Phil Bredesen

Race: Senate, Tennessee

Party: Democrat

In 1980 Bredesen founded HealthAmerica Corp., which he took public and grew into one of the nation’s largest HMOs before selling in 1986 for about $400 million. “I was 43 and determined not to reprise the history of others I had known who had achieved some financial success and then spent the rest of their lives defined by it,” he once explained. So Bredesen, who studied physics at Harvard, went into politics, serving as mayor of Nashville and then governor of Tennessee.  

2. Daniel McCready

Race: House, North Carolina, District-9

Party: Democrat

Following a tour of service as a marine in Iraq, McCready returned to America to attend Harvard Business School before settling down in North Carolina. There, he and another former marine founded Double Time Capital, which invests in clean and sustainable energy.

The result, so far, is dozens of solar farms across North Carolina—now the No. 2 state for solar power—and 700 jobs. McCready also runs This Land, an online retailer focused on selling products made by more than 50 American craftsmen.

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3. Dean Phillips

Race: House, Minnesota, D-3

Party: Democrat

After graduating from Brown in 1991, Phillips returned home to Minnesota and worked at a cycling startup before joining his family’s Minneapolis company, Phillips Distilling. While on a business trip to Poland, he and his father discovered a local Vodka brand: Belvedere. They bought the rights to market Belvedere in America, built it into a luxury brand and sold it to LVMH a decade later. After similarly building Talenti gelato, Phillips struck out on his own to launch Penny’s Coffee, which will open its third shop in the Twin Cities in December. Reflecting on his campaign, he says, “This is yet another entrepreneurial experience—creating a brand and strategy from scratch.”

4. Phillip Price

Race: House, North Carolina, D-11

Party: Democrat

As a young man, Price was a touring musician, playing in a Rasta-infused rock band called D.S.F Earth Corps. He eventually settled down in the foothills of McDowell County, where he runs his green business, Antique Reclaimed Lumber. The company, which has employed over 40 people since it was founded, deconstructs old barns, reclaiming the wood for new uses, such as custom furniture and flooring.

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5. Eliot Rabin

Race: House, New York, D12

Party: Republican

In 1977, Rabin opened his first clothing store, Peter Elliot, on the Upper East Side. It soon became a Mecca for men who like blue blazers and pastel-colored shirts and later expanded to women’s and boy’s clothes. (His self-described business motto: “Quality remains long after the price is forgotten.”) Rabin grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and went to school at the Citadel and then served in the Army. He began his fashion career at Bloomingdale’s before designing menswear for Givenchy, Emilio Pucci, and Oscar de la Renta. 

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6. Zak Ringelstein

Race: Senate, Maine

Party: Democrat

At age 28, Ringelstein, a former public school teacher, made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list thanks to UClass, the curriculum management startup he cofounded and has since sold. Now, four years later, he’s hoping to join one of most exclusive clubs for those over 30: the U.S. Senate. “I’ve always been someone fighting for justice,” he tells Forbes. Part of his platform focuses on education, including an idea to increase the minimum salaries for public school teachers to $60,000. 

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7.  Mitt Romney

Race: Senate, Utah

Party: Republican

Romney’s résumé was a major focus of his 2012 presidential campaign. The son of a Michigan governor, Romney got a Harvard J.D./M.B.A. and then became a top consultant at Bain & Co. before cofounding its private equity spinoff, Bain Capital, in 1984. Within a year, he had raised $37 million (over $90 million in current terms) and had started investing. The fortune he built, estimated in 2012 to be about $230 million, would be one of the largest in the Senate.

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8. Rick Scott

Race: Senate, Florida

Party: Republican

The two-term Florida governor used $125,000 in 1988 to begin buying up hospitals, starting with two in Texas. He took his hospital group, Columbia, public in 1990 and then a few years later merged it with billionaire Thomas Frist’s Hospital Corp. of America to create the world’s largest hospital chain with revenues of $20 billion. Pushed out after a Medicare fraud scandal, Scott went into venture capital, with investments in plastics, urgent care and aircraft cockpit display companies.

9.   William Timmons

Race: House, South Carolina, D-4

Party: Republican

In 2011, friends told Timmons he was crazy. They looked at the five-acre plot near northwest South Carolina’s Swamp Rabbit Trail and didn’t see much value. He saw something else. It’s now the $5 million home of his CrossFit gym and yoga studio, which produced an estimated $900,000 in combined annual revenue. “Nobody will tell you the best way to do things,” he says. “You have to figure out what works, and if what you’re doing isn’t working, you need to change it.”

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10. David Trone

Race: House, Maryland, D-6

Party: Democrat

Trone came to entrepreneurism naturally enough—his father was one too. When he was 11, his father moved the family to a farm near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. He and his brothers were the farm’s main employees; his dad would later open a hog-washing and an egg-processing business, too. After earning a Wharton M.B.A., Trone opened the first store in what became Total Wine and More, today a $3 billion-in-sales operation with 191 stores in 23 states. He has spent nearly $13 million of his own fortune on his campaign. “Politicians do not want to get out of the way, because they think the way it has always been done must be the best way,” Trone told Forbes in 2017. “I always preach…embrace change and get comfortable with failure.”

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2018/11/05/capitalists-on-capitol-hill-meet-10-exceptional-entrepreneurs-running-for-congress-in-2018/

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