LANSING, Mich. (AP) — “Squad” member Rashida Tlaib won a challenge for her House seat in Michigan’s primary, in a rematch with the woman she narrowly defeated two years ago.
Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, easily secured likely re-election to the 13th District in and around Detroit. Her opponent in Tuesday’s primary was Detroit City Council President President Brenda Jones, who lost by 1 percentage point in 2018 when the primary field was larger. Jones on the same day defeated Tlaib to later fill out the remainder of John Conyers’ term.
Tlaib, 44, will face an underdog Republican candidate in November.
The showdown in one of the country’ poorest districts had featured Jones criticizing Tlaib’s confrontational style and vowing to focus on bringing home funding. Tlaib once called the president an expletive while vowing to impeach him. He later targeted her with racist tweets.
“I’m confident. I’m confident in the movement that we started. I’m confident that as we experience this tonight, we are going to see that our country is ready, is ready for someone like me and others that are saying, ’Enough. Enough with corporate greed. Enough with the assault on our families,” Tlaib said in a video to supporters after the polls closed.
The Democratic showdown in one of the country’s poorest districts featured Jones criticizing Tlaib’s confrontational style and vowing to focus on bringing home funding. Tlaib once called the president an expletive while vowing to impeach him. He later targeted her with racist tweets.
Tlaib, an unapologetic fighter and progressive with a national profile, noted that Trump signed into law a bill she sponsored to protect retirees’ pension benefits and that she has gotten amendments approved with bipartisan support. She also cited work creating neighborhood service centers to help residents throughout the district.
Andrew E. Bryant, 71, voted for Tlaib at New Providence Baptist Church on Detroit’s west side. He said she has been outspoken on behalf of Detroit’s working class and poor, and especially against water service shut-offs for people unable to pay their bills.
“I look at the person that I think is best qualified” and Tlaib “is a fighter,” he said.
Gregory Wilson, 64, who also voted at the church, cast his ballot for Jones.
“I voted for Brenda Jones simply because I’ve done a little work with her because I’m a police chaplain,” he said. “With Rashida Tlaib, I’m probably not the best informed voter.”
The primary winner will be the overwhelming favorite in November’s general election.
The race was not just about an older establishment figure challenging a young, more liberal activist but also the racial dynamics in the district. The 60-year-old Jones, like more than half of the district’s residents, is Black while Tlaib is Palestinian American.
Tlaib had a huge financial advantage over Jones, having raised more than $2 million. Jones was far outraised in 2018 but almost won. The four other candidates the backed Jones this time, while Tlaib was endorsed by unions, Bernie Sanders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Tlaib released this statement following Tuesday's primary election:
“The 13th Congressional District raised me, and it is an honor to represent my neighbors in the United States House of Representatives. This re-election campaign took place during unprecedented times and involved us showing up for others and making sure our people had what they needed to get through the COVID-19 pandemic while demanding change and the end to systemic racism.
"We hit the ground running during my first term, delivering exceptional constituent services and pushing meaningful legislation birthed in the district – and I’m so thankful that Democratic voters in every corner of the district have decided that we earned a chance to continue this essential work of ensuring that government works on behalf of everyday people, centering the most vulnerable.
“Voters sent a clear message that they’re done waiting for transformative change, that they want an unapologetic fighter who will take on the status quo and win. We have a resounding mandate to put people before profits. Let it be known that in the 13th District, just like in communities across our country, we are done with establishment politics that put corporations first. If I was considered the most vulnerable member of the Squad, I think it’s safe to say the Squad is here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger.
"Thank you to my neighbors, to the countless volunteers, my dedicated team, and to my family for staying by my side and demanding that we never lose our sense of urgency for serving the people. Onward to November, defeating the impeached President, and showing up for each other along the way.”