WATCH: Michigan's 13th Congressional district Democratic debate

Candidates face off in Detroit

DETROIT – Six Democratic candidates vying to fill the seat of former Congressman John Conyers in Michigan's 13th Congressional district debated Thursday night in Detroit.

WDIV-Local 4 anchor and “Flashpoint” host Devin Scillian moderated the debate as a special “Flashpoint” election event. 


  • State Representative Rashida Tlaib 
  • Former State Representative Shanelle Jackson
  • State Senator Ian Conyers
  • State Senator Coleman Young II
  • Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones
  • Westland Mayor Bill Wild

What you need to know:

It will not be as simple as holding a primary election followed by a general election, though, as is typically done. On Nov. 6, a special election and a general election will be held concurrently.

The special election will determine who will finish out Conyers’ term from this November to January 2019. The general election will determine who will serve the next two years in the 2019-2021 term.

Candidates will take the stage Thursday night in a debate hosted by WDIV-Local 4 and the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Organization.

Because no Republican candidates are running for the seat, the winner of the Democratic primary will effectively win the general election (but not necessarily the special election).

A mid-July poll conducted by Target-Insyght of Lansing had Jones, Tlaib and Wild in a virtual tie for the lead with about 20% of the vote each. Young trailed with 14%, Conyers stood at 8% and Jackson had 4% with 14% of the electorate undecided.

A poll from last week conducted by EPIC-MRA of Lansing showed Jones in the lead with 24%, Tlaib with 21% and Wild in third place with 17%. The same poll projected Young with 9%, Conyers with 6% and Jackson standing at 4% with 19% of voters undecided.

Both of these polls had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, which is important to note given the relatively small number of likely voters in a single district (especially in a primary election).

Topics discussed at a candidate forum in June include labor rights, criminal justice reform and dealing with sexual assault and harassment, which could foreshadow some of the issues that will be debated Thursday.

Be Heard. Go Vote!

A reminder to “Be Heard – and Go Vote!” this election season. The Aug. 7 primary election is your first chance to weigh in on big races for governor, U.S. Congress and the State Legislature. Unfortunately, last time around turnout was less than half of the voting public in southeast Michigan. We all have political opinions. Don’t just share them on social media. Share them in the voting booth.

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