Tlaib, one of four members of the freshman Squad, beat Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones in the 13th District primary, the Associated Press called Wednesday morning. With 90 percent of the precincts reporting, Tlaib led 66 percent to Jones’ 34 percent, according to the Wayne County Clerk’s Office.
“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,” Tlaib said in a victory statement. “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.”
Tlaib’s win is another shot in the arm for the progressive left-wing of the Democratic Party that has been taking on establishment figures and advocating for many Democratic socialist ideals championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
The four original squad members are Tlaib and fellow freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
But they are poised to have more allies in Congress next year.
Progressive Cori Bush ousted longtime Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay Tuesday in Missouri’s Democratic primary on Tuesday. In New York City, Ocasio-Cortez trounced her establishment challenger earlier this summer and former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman upset longtime incumbent Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel from the Bronx. In another progressive victory, Marie Newman ousted incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Illinois primary earlier this year.
In a video message thanking her supporters, Tlaib said it was not just her name on the ballot but the progressive policies she backs, such as “Medicare-for-All” and a Green New Deal.
“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,” Tlaib said in a statement. “We have a resounding mandate to put people before profits.”
The 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of Detroit and the inner suburbs of Wayne County, is overwhelmingly Democratic so Tlaib’s win in the primary all but guarantees her return to Congress.
The district was held for more than half a century by John Conyers Jr., a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus who died last year. When Conyers stepped down in 2018 amid accusations of sexual harassment, Jones briefly held the seat after narrowly edging Tlaib in a special election to fill the rest of Conyers’ term.
But Tlaib won a separate election for the new two-year term, starting in 2019.
Jones, who is Black, enjoyed the support of the other four candidates from the 2018 election. Tlaib is Palestinian American — and she made history alongside Omar as the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
But Tlaib – a talented campaigner and fundraiser – had a massive campaign cash advantage over Jones, who was sidetracked from fundraising after contracting the coronavirus.
Tlaib is no stranger to the spotlight. She made headlines the day she was sworn into Congress in January of last year, using an expletive in pushing for President Trump’s impeachment.
“We’re going to impeach the motherf****r,” Tlaib said at the time.
And she made headlines last year for booing 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a rally in Iowa.
Jones argued that Tlaib has ignored her district as she’s become too preoccupied with national issues.
“As Michigan’s 13th Congressional District Representative, Tlaib has worked hard to become an international rock star,” Jones tweeted two weeks ago. “Representative Tlaib has a huge war chest of nearly $2 million. The money in Rashida Tlaib’s war chest is mostly from people around the world.”
Tlaib pushed back against such arguments – saying her critics are highlighting just a few high-profile moments and overlooking her legislative achievements. This year she’s teamed up with fellow lawmakers to shield constituents from high water bills and water shutoffs, which many argue disproportionately hurt people of color.
“Nothing will ever stop me from putting you & your family first. I work hard for our district and have the receipts to prove it,” Tlaib tweeted on primary eve, as she showcased a list of her accomplishments.
Tlaib – who was also endorsed recently by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – got the backing of a host of unions, local and national environmental, progressive and anti-poverty groups, and the Wayne County Democratic Black Caucus.
Author: Marisa Schultz