Tlaib's win all but locks her in for a second term in Congress, where she represents Michigan's 13th Congressional district

By Sean Neumann
August 06, 2020 03:13 PM
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Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib in January 2019
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of four lawmakers of color who make up "the Squad," easily won her Democratic primary race this week and declared the progressive Congressional group — a prominent conservative target — is "here to stay."

While the race had been expected by some to be close, Tlaib, 44, defeated repeat opponent Brenda Jones after earning more than 66 percent of the vote in Michigan's 13th Congressional District, according to The New York Times.

Jones is the president of Detroit's City Council and lost to Tlaib in their last election by only 900 votes while beating her in another contest by some 1,600 votes.

"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," Tlaib said in a statement following her win this week. "If I was considered the most vulnerable member of the Squad, I think it’s safe to say the Squad is here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger."

Fellow "Squad" member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her congratulations afterwards as well.

"Please put some respect on [Tlaib]’s victory last night," the New York lawmaker wrote. "She didn’t 'survive' - she *overwhelmed* at the polls."

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib
Paul Sancya/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Tlaib, who is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, had faced Jones in 2018 to see who would fill the seat vacated by former Rep. John Conyers, who had resigned following sexual harassment allegations in 2017. (He denied the accusations.)

Upon being sworn into office in January 2019, Tlaib made headlines for calling out President Donald Trump, 74, telling supporters, "We're gonna go in there and we're going to impeach the m-----------."

Jones, 60, had partially built her 2020 campaign on suggesting Tlaib had been drawn too much toward national politics and was not focused on her district, which covers portions of Detroit and is largely African-American

Jones argued that Tlaib's outspokenness had impacted the amount of federal aid coming into the area.

"I’m used to working with people I don’t always agree with," she told The Detroit Free Press. "Mayor [Mike] Duggan and I don’t always agree, but Mayor Duggan and I work together to get things done for the city of Detroit."

Detroit's population is more than 78 percent Black, according to the Census Bureau, and Jones, who is Black and has served on the city council since 2005, had received the endorsement of Detroit's NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony.

“It’s a majority African-American city," Adrian Hemond, a Michigan-based Democratic strategist, told The Hill on Monday before Tlaib cruised to victory the next day. "It’s a majority African-American congressional district, and to the extent that those voters are interested in symbolic representation, that’s not Rep. Tlaib."

However, voters overwhelmingly sided with Tlaib, who built a prominent political profile and gathered endorsements from the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as a $2.9 million-to-$140,000 advantage in fundraising, according to The Hill.

Because the 13th district is one of the most Democratic in the country, Tlaib is expected to easily be elected to a second term in Congress. (After narrowly defeating Jones in the 2018 primary, Tlaib won the general election with more than 84 percent of the vote.)

She will face Republican David Dudenhoefer in November.

"My community responded last night and said our Squad is big," Tlaib tweeted Thursday, thanking her supporters. "It includes all who believe we must show up for each other and prioritize people over profits. It’s here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger."