A major change for one of the blackest cities in the country; potentially no African American voice to represent the city of Detroit.
After redistricting, the city’s solidly Democratic districts remain deeply blue but left seats open. In the 12th, its incumbent, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, took up the Democratic mantle after Tuesday’s election. In the 13th, it’s Shri Thanedar who split the vote in the city but won the newly added downriver communities.
While both are people of color, neither is black. If both with it would leave the city without Black representation in Congress for the first time in 68 years.
Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, retiring this year, said she thinks the combination of redistricting, low voter turnout and a disorganized race where nine Black candidates potentially split the attention of Black voters came together in a perfect storm.
“There were conversations that were had,” said Lawrence. “I know I had some, and other individuals had them and again, you know, people were looking and saying, ‘I’m American. I have the right to run you don’t tell me not to run.’ My appeal did not work. Individuals still ran. So, we sometimes lessons are hard learn.”
Reportedly, Thanedar has said he will ask to be part of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which Lawrence is a powerful member, and said he’s had conversations with Lawrence. Lawrence said curtly on Friday, she had not talked to him about any such request.
However, across the state, the Republican party boasted three black candidates. In the 13th district, Martell Bivings won the Republican primary, although faced a tough election in the still deeply Democratic district. In the new Michigan 10th, John James is likely to win his seat. John Gibbs won his race in West Michigan against incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer. That seat moving from likely Republican to a toss-up. The latter two being talked about as better than nothing for black voters.
“I will say that, you know, James and Gibbs will be a consolation prize, if you will, even though they’re going to be Republicans to have representation from the state from an African American perspective,’ said Southfield-based political analyst Mario Morrow.
On Friday, the Michigan Republican Party said their slate of candidates is a blow to Democrats, particularly after former president Donald Trump was able to siphon about 4 percent of the votes of black men from president Joe Biden in 2020.
“[They are] yet another sign of how vibrant and diverse the Republican Party is when compared to the Democrat party, which for years has taken voters of all walks of life for granted,” MIGOP Director of Communications Gus Portello said.
Local4/ClickonDetroit.com did reach out to the Michigan Democratic Party for a comment but did not receive a response. When asked if the Democrats could be looking at a problem with a key voting base, both Lawrence and Morrow said they didn’t think so. Both said Democratic candidates would have their work cut out for them, convincing communities that are not their own they can represent their voices in Congress.