With 96 percent of votes counted, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib appeared headed for a victory over Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones Wednesday morning in a tight race to replace former U.S. Rep. John Conyers.
In a Democratic primary considered all-but-decisive in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, Tlaib led with 33.2 percent of the vote, compared with 29.2 percent for Jones and 14 percent for Bill Wild.
Coleman Young II was in fourth place with 12 percent, followed by Ian Conyers, the grand-nephew of the former congressman, with 6.3 percent and Shanelle Jackson with 5.3 percent.
If declared the primary winner, Tlaib, a former state representative of Palestinian descent who has been a hero in the progressive movement, could become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.
The winner is likely to face Republican David Dudenhoefer, who didn’t make that party’s ballot but who was running as a write-in candidate.
The race comes eight months after Conyers ended a 52-year career in Congress. The six candidates were vying for the nomination in a district comprised of parts of Detroit, Downriver and western Wayne County.
The candidate winning the Democratic nomination in the district has a chance to make history by replacing Conyers, a civil rights icon first elected in 1964, co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Conyers – who had been the longest-serving active member of Congress when he stepped down in December – resigned under a cloud of scandal, accused of harassing and otherwise mistreating female staffers, charges which he denied.
His replacement, however, is likely to wind up being as inextricably linked with the fortunes of Detroit and urban America as Conyers. Michgan’s 13th District is one of the most predominantly Democratic congressional districts in America. It also has a larger portion of its constituency living under the poverty line — 30 percent as of 2016 — than any other district in Michigan.
Tuesday’s race in the 13th District was really two races: One for the Democratic nomination for the next two-year term in Congress beginning in January and another for the party’s nomination to serve the remainder of Conyers’ unexpired term, with the decisive election for both set for Nov. 6.
In the Democratic race for the unexpired term, Jones had a slight lead over Tlaib, as of 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
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