Coronavirus obstacles challenge Detroit primary, yet turnout rises to 24.9%

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After winning re-election in the 13th district, Rashida Tlaib posted this to her Twitter account: “We are part of a movement to fight against injustices fueled by racism and corporate greed.We never back down and will always stand up for what is right.”

Detroit primary highlights

Detroit voters helped secure the return of a progressive “Squad” member to the U.S. Congress, likely nabbed a State House seat for a millionaire entrepreneur and allowed a longtime Wayne County prosecutor to survive a challenge from a reform-minded defense attorney.

As expected, the COVID-19 pandemic caused new obstacles for some voters. A shortage of poll workers meant at least three Detroit polling stations opened late and some voters showed up at polls to find the locations had changed. 

More than 104,000 absentee ballots were requested in Detroit and a total of 121,298 ballots cast, according to the City Clerk. In the end, 1 in 4 registered voters, or 24.9 percent, in Detroit cast ballots in the primary. That’s a big jump from the primary four years ago, when 13 percent of voters participated. 

There were plenty of choices that voters made this week, ranging from the U.S. Congress seats, State House legislators, county commissioners, precinct delegates and the renewal of three local millages.  

For complete results, check out the Detroit City Clerk’s page here and the Wayne County Clerk’s page here

U.S. House Rep. Tlaib wins big

Firebrand progressive U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib handily won a rematch with Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones to represent the 13th District. The district covers a big swath of Detroit, a bit of Downriver as well as the cities of Highland Park, Garden City and Romulus. The district is heavily Democrat, which means Tlaib’s path to victory in November is virtually assured. 

In 2018, Jones lost to Tlaib by 900 votes, or 1 percent, when the primary field was larger. On the same day, she defeated Tlaib to fill out the remainder of the term of the late John Conyers. This time, Tlaib won by more than 35,000 votes, about 66 percent, for the Democratic nomination, according to the Wayne County Clerk. 

Tlaib became a high-profile critic of President Trump and is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. She is one of the four first-term congresswomen of color known as the “Squad” — each progressive and big Republican targets. 

“I think it’s safe to say the Squad is here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger,”  Tlaib said in a press statement.  “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.” 

Rep. Brenda Lawrence easily won the Democratic primary in District 14.

In District 14, Rep. Brenda Lawrence easily won the Democratic primary, leaving her well placed to secure a fourth term. A former mayor of Southfield, Lawrence was first elected to Congress in 2014. The district includes parts of downtown and east side Detroit, the Grosse Pointes, Southfield and Pontiac. 

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy overcame a challenge Tuesday as voters chose her over Democratic rival Victoria Burton-Harris, a defense attorney.

State House Races 

Entrepreneur Shri Thanedar won in a crowded field to nab the Democratic nomination for House District 3. In 2018, Thanedar spent more than $10 million of his own money in a bid for governor. He finished third in the Democratic primary. After that loss, he moved from the Ann Arbor area to Detroit last fall and spent more than $300,000 on the statehouse race. The district covers parts of the east side and north side of Detroit. 

9th House District: State Rep. Karen Whitsett appears on her path to a second term. Whitsett contracted COVID-19 earlier this year and said she recovered quickly after taking hydroxychloroquine — a drug being touted at the time by Trump. Whitsett credited Trump for saving her life, sparking a censure by fellow Democrats. District 9 includes the west side of the city and parts of Dearborn. 

Abraham Aiyash won in District 4

4th House District:  It was the battle of young progressives in the Democratic representing Hamtramck and surrounding Detroit neighborhoods such as Midtown, the North End and parts of the east side.  Abraham Aiyash, 26,  the son of Yemeni immigrants and a Hamtramck native came on top. Aiyash will replace Isaac Robinson who died in March of suspected coronavirus complications.

State House seats were also up grabs in the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th districts.

Wayne County Prosecutor 

Longtime incumbent Kym Worthy survived a challenge from defense attorney Victoria Burton-Harris, who ran advocating an end to mass incarceration of Blacks and overall reform in the judicial system. No Republicans filed to run for prosecutor, assuring Worthy’s return. 

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