Rashida Tlaib Wins Michigan Primary & Is Set To Become The First Muslim Woman In Congress
In Detroit, one woman is breaking boundaries and fighting to make history again in November. The 42-year-old former state representative Rashida Tlaib has won the Democratic nomination for the 13th Congressional District, putting her on her way to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. The seat she is nominated for was formerly held by U.S. Representative John Conyers Jr., who served in Congress for more than 50 years. Heading into the midterm election in November, there are no official Republican challengers in the race, making it more than likely that Tlaib will win the seat and, in doing so, make history.
But it wasn't all victories for Tlaib, the oldest child of Palestinian immigrants, on Aug. 7. Tlaib was running in two races: the Democratic primary for the 13th District and the special election for the 13th District. While she won the primary, she was narrowly behind in the special election. The special election was to fill the seat until the winner of the November election takes over in January for a two-year term.
Brenda Jones, the opponent who edged her out in the special election, campaigned with strong name recognition and several high-profile endorsements from union groups, religious figures, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, The Detroit News reported. As of Wednesday morning, the special election was still close, with Jones ahead, but not formally called.
This isn't Tlaib's first rodeo. The Democratic candidate, who was born and raised in Detroit, already made Michigan history as the first Muslim woman in the state's Legislature, where she served from 2008 to 2014, CNN reported. Before her current run, Tlaib worked as an attorney and advocate at the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice.
And Tlaib had an impressive war chest from the beginning; she raised more than $570,000 toward the start of the year, stunning political analysts. She ended up raising more than $1 million in contributions, which amounts to more funding for her campaign than the rest of her opponents in the primary, according to The Detroit News.
Tlaib is just one of many Muslim-Americans who are getting involved with politics this year. According to CNN, more than 90 are running for office in some form, from local school boards to the United States Senate, and at least five of the Congress candidates are women.
When it comes to the November election, Republican David Dudenhoefer, who didn't make the party's ballot, is running as a write-in candidate, according to Detroit Free Press. Whoever wins the congressional seat in November will be taking over a seat that has been occupied by the same man for more than half a century. Elected in 1964, Conyers stepped down this past year in December after what should have been a remarkable legacy; as the Detroit Free Press reported, he was a civil rights icon, the co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. But Conyers resigned while facing accusations of sexual harassment and mistreatment of his female staffers. He has denied the allegations.
Now, Tlaib is likely to ascend to Congress. On her website, Tlaib describes her "unparalleled record fighting for her constituents and her values, taking on billionaires and multinational corporations, and winning." She's also been vocal, according to CNN, in her criticisms of President Trump, calling his election the "bat signal" that spurred progressive women across the nation to jump into politics and run for office.