Rashida Tlaib faces tough re-election challenge from Brenda Jones (Radio Podcast)
Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who served a brief five week term representing the 13th Congressional District in Michigan, discusses her rematch with Rashida Tlaib who won the full 13th District Congressional term in 2018. The next Democratic Primary is August 4, 2020 and Jones has accused Tlaib of being behind efforts to to remove her name from the ballot. Jones came within 900 votes of beating Tlaib but in a race that included three other prominent African Americans. This time, the two are facing-off one-on-one and that has Tlaib concerned.
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By Ray Hanania
Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who served a brief five weeks representing the 13th District in Congress, accused first term incumbent Rashida Tlaib on Friday of being behind efforts to remove her from the August 4, 2020 Democratic election ballot oin Michigan.
There were two concurrent elections in the 13th Disatrict in 2018 to fill the vacancy created by Congressman John Conyer’s passing. The first was to complete the term, of only five weeks, and the second was to serve the next two year term. Jones won the election to complete the five week term, but lost to Tlaib in the contest to succeed the late congressman by only 900 votes, mainly because there were three other big-name African American candidates in the contest. Jones won the and she tried to prevent
This time, Jones is facing Tlaib one-on-one with the backing all of the other candidates who ran in the prior congressional battles, and she has deflected several petitions and lawsuits filed to forcibly remove Jones’ name from the ballot to ensure Tlaib’s re-election.
“Rashida Tlaib and her supporters tried to go against me from being on the ballot. They filed charges so that I could not get on the ballot. They challenged one to the county clerk. The challenged one to the secretary of state. They filed a Federal lawsuit and it was dismissed by the federal government,” Jones said during an interview of U.S. Arab Radio’s “The Arab Street” program on Friday July 10, 2020.
“And now they filed a state lawsuit. Are you truly a public servant of the people? You are trying to deny the citizens the right to vote. You are telling them don’t count since I am on the ballot, don’t count my vote? What is that? Is that voter disenfranchisement. And you say you are a congress person representing the United States of America and upholding the Constitution? It is ridiculous.”
There were two concurrent elections on August 7, 2018 to succeed Congressman John Conyers who died on Dec. 5, 2017. The first was a special election which was held on Aug 7, 2018 to complete Conyers’ remaining term of office (five weeks). The second election was held to fill Conyer’s vacant seat and represent the 13th district in the new two-year term.
Jones defeated Tlaib in the special election by a vote of 32,727 to Tlaib who had 31,084 with only four candidates in the race. But Tlaib defeated Jones in the two-year term election by a vote of 27,841 to Jones who had 26,941 votes with six total candidates including three other African Americans.
In this year’s rematch, Jones has been endorsed by all four of the candidates who ran in that 2018 election, Coleman Young, Ian Conyers, Shannelle Jackson and Bill Wild.
Jones said Tlaib tried to block Jones’ seating in Congress by sending her election to a committee for review for the five week period.
“When I was elected by the people to represent the congressional district to be seated for the partial seat, Rashida Tlaib was one of the people who was telling them not to seat me for the five weeks,” Jones said.
Ian Conyers, who represented the 4th District, is the grandson of the late John Conyer’s brother. Coleman Young is the estranged son of Detroit’s first African American mayor, Coleman Young, who served from 1974 to 1994.
The presence of four African Americans in the 2018 Democratic Primary election divided the vote and allowed Tlaib to win the seat defeating Jones by only 900 votes of nearly 90,000 votes cast.
Jones affirmed that if she defeats Tlaib as polls suggest, she will not abandon the Arab American and Muslim community as Tlaib activists in those community are asserting.
“I will focus in on racial disparity. There are so many inequities among us and they affect a lot of people … I am going to focus on racial profiling … everybody. Racial profiling against Muslims, Arabs, everybody. It should not matter what religion you are. It should not matter what religion you are. We are all created equal by God,” Jones said.
“I am interested in uniting the district, bringing the district together. Our district is about 60 percent African American. But we also have Latinos. We also have Whites. We also have Arabs. We are diverse. … My interest is bringing all of those people back together, uniting the district so we can get something done. I think it is important that we all work together. … I work with everybody, whether or not I agree with them or whether or not I disagree with them. … I am a coalition builder.”
Jones accused Tlaib of seeking “international celebrity” at the expense of the needs of the 13th District. Jones said she would return he focus to the needs of the 13th District, which is the third poorest district of the nation’s 435 congressional districts in the nation.
“I am running to bring the money back to the 13th Congressional District, the district that is the third poorest district in the United States of America,” Jones said.
“It seems that many feel that Rashida is interested in being a national star. I am not interested in being a national star. I am interested in building the economy for the 134th Congressional District. I am interested in hope for tomorrow. Hope for our children. Hope for our community. Our people need hope.”
Jones added, “I ask what has Rashida accomplished (during her two years in office)? She has not accomplished anything. She introduced one bill.”
The audio podcast of the interview is available at www.TheArabStreet.org.
Tlaib has repeatedly declined requests to be interviewed both for radio and for newspaper online and print interviews.
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Visit Rashida Tlaib website at www.rashidaforcongress.com
Related story: Rashida Tlaib rejects the Two-State Solution, reversing her campaign pledge. Click here to read the story