Rep. Hansen Clark a no-show at candidates' debate

Congressman charges racism in robo-calls

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A Sunday debate among candidates in Michigan's 14th congressional district was marred by allegations of racism by the campaign team for a candidate who was a no-show for the debate.

  Rep. Hansen Clarke did not attend the debate.  His campaign released a statement that read "Due to the use of racist rhetoric and race-baiting, Hansen Clarke will not participate in any more debates at this time."

The allegations of racism reportedly stem from robo-calls which claim that Rep. Clarke's late mother was white, not black and that he is not African-American.

Rep. Gary Peters took part in Sunday's debate and said his campaign was not responsible for those calls.

"I'm outraged, if indeed this is true. Certainly, Representative Clarke has made some serious allegations. I'm ready to lock arms with him and fight anybody who is using racial tactics. It does not belong in this campaign," Peters said.

Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence is a candidate who also took part in the debate. She also denied her campaign is involved in the calls Rep. Clarke cited.

"All the money that I use go for robo-calls asking for votes for me," Lawrence said.

  The 14th district is newly-drawn. It stretches through southeast Michigan, from Oakland County to Grosse Pointe and on into southwest Detroit.

The primary pits Representatives Clark and Peters against one another plus several challengers.

Sunday's debate in Southfield touched on Clarke's absence only briefly.

Most of the discussion centered on jobs and Detroit's economy.

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