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Renowned Squad member Rashida Tlaib doesn’t have an easy road ahead of her for her Democratic primary “rematch” with Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.
Tlaib’s popularity seems to be holding by a thread, while a heated battle has erupted between she and her challenger.
Maybe the Squad (or as I like to call them, the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse) has a weak link.
This could get interesting as, for a few years now, Tlaib has arguably had a lead for “most disliked member of the squad.”
HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. — Representative Rashida Tlaib, one of Congress’s most famous members, is perhaps best known for her membership in the progressive group known as “the squad” and her strident attacks on President Trump.
But on a recent Saturday, she stood in a former manufacturing plant in one of America’s poorest districts, talking about power outages as she worked to beat back a stiff primary challenge that is threatening her political future.
“Where were the outages? Look at the map,” Ms. Tlaib told members of the Detroit chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, the influential Black sorority, as she railed against DTE Energy, the local power company. “Black and brown communities overwhelmingly have outages because they don’t fix the infrastructure in our neighborhoods. DTE, I don’t need you to issue a statement that says ‘Black Lives Matter.’ I need you to show me Black lives matter.”
The message drew raucous applause here in Highland Park, a city surrounded by Detroit where Black residents make up roughly 90 percent of the population, and where voters are less concerned with the latest Washington controversy than they are about coronavirus testing, neighborhood blight and losing power whenever thunderstorms strike.
Despite — or perhaps because of — millions of dollars in her campaign account and a national profile, Ms. Tlaib, 43, is likely the most endangered member of the so-called squad, the diverse group of progressive Democratic women who were elected to the House in 2018 and have come to embody the vanguard of the party’s majority.
Catapulted to national prominence by a profane call to impeach the president uttered on the day she was sworn in, and insulted with racist tropes by Mr. Trump, Ms. Tlaib has drawn plenty of headlines during her first term. Now her primary contest — a bitter rematch against a prominent Black leader — is testing Ms. Tlaib’s ability to ensure that her work outshines her celebrity.
It has also pitted two overlapping and often allied Democratic constituencies — Black Americans and the progressive left — against each other, making Ms. Tlaib, a symbol of the party’s growing diversity, into a target.
For more than a half century, Ms. Tlaib’s district was represented by John Conyers Jr., a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus who died last year. Brenda Jones, the Black president of the Detroit City Council who is challenging her, has positioned herself as a more fitting successor.
Ms. Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, made history in 2018 as one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
Ms. Jones and her supporters argue that Ms. Tlaib has become too preoccupied with national issues to tend to her district, which snakes through portions of Detroit and a mishmash of suburbs in Wayne County. They say her outspokenness against Mr. Trump and centrist Democrats like Hillary Clinton, whom Ms. Tlaib booed at a rally in Iowa last year, has hampered her work in Congress.
“You can be vocal, but the things that were being done — like calling the president a ‘MF’ or booing Hillary — every time something like that happened, I was getting calls from people saying ‘You’re more professional than this,’” Ms. Jones said. “I’m not interested in being a rock star. I’m just interested in bringing home the money, working for the people of the 13th district and uniting the community.”
Two years ago, Ms. Jones eked out a 2-point victory over Ms. Tlaib in a special primary election to serve out the remainder of Mr. Conyers’s term after his abrupt resignation. But in a six-way primary held the same day, Ms. Tlaib defeated Ms. Jones to win the nomination for the race to succeed him, effectively ensuring she would win the election for the next full term in the solidly Democratic district.
The outcome left bad blood on both sides. Now, Ms. Jones has regrouped to challenge Ms. Tlaib in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary, drawing the support of all four of their former rivals, including former state Sen. Ian Conyers, the great-nephew of the late congressman, as well as a large contingent of influential Detroit ministers and Rev. Wendell Anthony, the president of the Detroit chapter of the N.A.A.C.P.
“I’m always for African-American leadership,” said Coleman Young II, a former state senator and one of the 2018 primary contenders who has endorsed Ms. Jones this time. “You don’t have to be Black to represent Black people, but you do have to be informed and it has to be a priority. And I just don’t see it being a priority for constituents of the 13th district right now.”
Race always seems to be a focal point in any election involving democrats.
It's almost sad to watch.
Oh well, grab the popcorn and enjoy!
To make matters worse for Tlaib, her refusal to endorse Joe Biden may come back to hurt her in the primary.
The Hill with more:
In an interview with Newsweek published on Monday, the first-year lawmaker, who had previously endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2020 presidential race, was pressed about why she hasn’t thrown her support behind the former vice president.
“He hasn't directly called me or anything, but, no, right now I'm focused on my election, my constituents and my residents,” Tlaib told the outlet. “One thing that I know is I'm going to be really focused on turnout in the fall. When I focus on turnout, we will deliver Michigan to Joe Biden.”
“Trump only won Michigan by 10,000 votes. When I turn out my folks and my district, we'll be able to take back the state. When you focus primarily on getting people out to vote in a district like mine, [Biden] wins,” she continued.
Pressed further in the interview about why it’s difficult for her to endorse Biden in the coming race, Tlaib said, “Because I don't want to get into a debate with my residents.”
“Residents come up to me and say, ‘Rashida, I don't know. I hear Joe Biden this, Joe Biden that.’ I say, ‘Listen, do we need another four years of Trump? No. Then what I need you to do is go out there and focus on that,’” she said.
“If the ultimate goal is to get rid of Donald Trump, that doesn't have to involve me actually endorsing Biden,” Tlaib continued. “My constituents don't need to be bogged down in, ‘Is he the best candidate?’ That's not what you have to convince my residents. They need to come out in droves and be inspired by something. And that is going to be a vote against Donald Trump.”
She's just not very likeable.