Rashida Tlaib beats back another primary challenge, looks likely to return to Congress
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) speaking at the Council on American Islamic Relations. (Shutterstock.com)

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) on Tuesday scored a decisive victory in Michigan’s new 12th Congressional District Democratic Party primary.

Tlaib leads other Democratic candidates in the race: Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett; Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey; and former state House member Shanelle Jackson of Detroit. The Associated Press and other analysts declared Tlaib the Democratic winner.

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey at the TCF Center in Detroit | Andrew Roth

The newly drawn district is strongly Democratic, which means Tlaib is almost certain to win the November general election and stay in Congress.

It includes a portion of Detroit and Oakland County, as well as western Wayne County communities such as Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Livonia, Westland Garden City and Redford Township. For the first time, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission drew the boundaries for congressional districts and state Legislature races after the Census, not the Legislature.

The vote-tallying process has been delayed by a modem issue that has slowed down efforts in the Wayne County clerk’s office. With 39 of 362 precincts reporting, Tlaib had a 71.69% to 14.19% lead over second-place Winfrey in Wayne County, according to unofficial returns. With 95.85% of the precincts reporting Tlaib is leading Winfrey 55.03% to 26.48% in Oakland County. Tlaib also attracted support in Detroit and doubled the number of votes second-place finisher Winfrey secured so far.

Winfrey secured contributions from United Democracy Project, a super PAC tied to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobbying group.

Tlaib was first elected in 2018 to the open 13th District seat formerly held by the late U.S. Rep. John Conyers. She overcame a Democratic primary in 2020 to return to Congress.

In January, Tlaib made a decision to seek the 12th District seat although she had lived in the new 13th District. U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), who also represents Southeast Michigan, announced in January that she would retire after term ends.

Tlaib is a daughter of Palestinan immigrants and was first elected to Congress in 2018. She served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2009 to 2014.

U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib, left, and Ayanna Pressley in Detroit on July 24, 2022. | Photo by Andrew Roth

Tlaib brought on July 24 her co-members of “The Squad,” a group of progressive congresswomen, to help her campaign. U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) joined in door-knocking and later a rally at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School for a fundraiser on behalf of the Squad Victory Fund, which raises money for each of the four congresswomen.

Tlaib also campaigned for U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) in his primary battle in the new 11th District against U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Twp.), doing a rally Friday with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). However, Stevens notched a strong victory in the race in the Oakland County-based seat.

Tlaib will face Republican challenger Steven Elliott in the Nov. 8 general election.

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