Primary vote could mean no black members of Detroit sit in Congress
Detroit has not been without a black representative in Congress since Charles Diggs Jr. took office in 1955. Diggs was joined in Congress in 1965 by Democrat John Conyers, who retained his seat in Congress for more than 50 years.
Detroit is about 80 percent black, and all of the other primary candidates were black.
“This race was not about me,” Thanedar said in a statement Wednesday. “Michigan’s 13th congressional district is one of the poorest in the nation, and I will fight for economic and racial justice in Congress.”
The 13th district — redrawn by redistricting after Michigan lost a seat following the census — is currently represented by Democrat Rashida Tlaib, who ran in the redrawn 12th congressional district and won on Tuesday.
The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission finalized the US House and legislative maps in January that will last 10 years. The plans are politically fairer for Democrats, but have drawn criticism from black lawmakers and the state’s Civil Rights Department because they reduce the number of seats where African Americans make up the majority of the child-age population. vote.
A federal lawsuit subsequently filed on behalf of a group of current and former black state lawmakers in Detroit seeks to block newly drawn districts, claiming they illegally dilute the voting strength of African Americans. Thanedar’s victory confirms this claim, according to Nabih Ayad, a lawyer for the group.
The lawsuit alleges violations of the US Voting Rights Act and Michigan’s constitution. The No. 1 card-drawing criterion for the panel was to comply with the 1965 law, which prohibits discriminatory voting practices and procedures.
“We’ve argued this from the start, that it’s going to take a miracle for some of these people to win,” Ayad said Wednesday. ” It is not a surprise. Why should they be the sacrificial lambs. It’s a very, very sad day for the African American power base that has worked for decades to get where it is.
Former state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo spoke out against the redesigned districts and was one of the candidates who failed to advance in the Democratic 13th Congressional District primary on Tuesday.
“At a time when the black community is reeling from reduced voting rights and black women – who already face inequities in maternal health and barriers to safe abortion care – face at the impact of the inversion Roe v. Wade, black representation in Congress for Michigan and for Detroit matters more than ever,” Roberson said Wednesday. “A lot of people woke up this morning rightly worried.”
University of Michigan political science professor Ken Kollman said the number of candidates and the lack of coordination in the district and among voter groups may have been major factors in Thanedar’s victory.
“I guess for a lot of Detroit voters that’s a big deal and I’m sure that’s something that’s a big disappointment for a lot of Detroit voters,” Kollman said of the possibility that the city has no black voices in Congress. “Whether this will lead to a different representation on substance or on issues very much depends on how the particular people who represent Detroit act in Congress.”
“Detroit congressmen have been very prominent and active in things like the Congressional Black Caucus and very visible black leaders in the country,” he added.
Roberson said it would be about black candidates splitting the vote in the primary and that the political establishment had tried to “manufacture a consensual African-American candidate.”
“The first step to having a consensus candidate is to choose the most qualified candidate,” she said. “That didn’t happen in this race.”
Thanedar, an entrepreneur, moved to Detroit from Ann Arbor and was elected in 2020 to Michigan’s 3rd House District. He spent over $10 million of his own money to run for governor in 2018, but finished third that year in the Democratic primary. Thanedar’s campaign website says he contributed $5,040,404 to his campaign for Tuesday’s race.
The story has been corrected to say that Rashida Tlaib represents the 13th congressional district, not Brenda Lawrence.