By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) – Former Michigan state legislator Rashida Tlaib won a narrow victory in the state’s Democratic primaries, edging out Brenda Jones, Detroit's City Council President, and is on track to become the first Muslim woman in U.S. Congress.
The Palestinian-American won the congressional seat for Michigan's 13th district after former Representative John Conyers stepped down abruptly following sexual harassment allegations, leaving the seat vacant.
The resignation forced a special election to decide who will fill the remainder of Conyers' term. Tlaib faced off against Brenda Jones, Bill Wild, and Ian Conyers — the great-nephew of Conyers. The race was too close to call Tuesday night, and there is a recount in process.
Nonetheless, Tlaib will probably run unopposed in elections in November and is set to start her position in January.
“You didn’t need to sell out. You don’t need to change who you are to run for office,” an emotional Tlaib said in her victory speech. “This is the answer. This is who we are.”
Having served six years in state legislature, Tlaib campaigned on a platform that advocated for the $15 minimum wage, free public college tuition and ending corporate welfare. A proud Palestinian, Tlaib has also been an advocate for Palestinian rights and is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.
"Why am I running? Because this is about electing the jury to impeach @POTUS and I will make a heck of juror," Tlaib said in a tweet aimed at Trump.
Tlaib's victory ended a night of mixed emotions for many Muslim-American voters in Michigan on Tuesday.
Abdul El-Sayed, a political newcomer and Muslim son of Egyptian immigrants, was defeated by establishment Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in the gubernatorial race.
And fellow Muslim and Democrat, Fayrouz Saad, running in the 11th district also lost in her primary.
This year, however, a record number of Muslims were running for political office since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. More than 90 Muslims are running for political office, according to Jetpac, an organization that helps Muslims run for political office.
Outside of Michigan, there were also primary elections held in Kansas, Missouri, Washington and a special election held in Ohio's 12th district.