DETROIT — Former Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib has won the Democratic nomination to run unopposed for the House seat long held by former Rep. John Conyers, setting her up to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.
The special primary race to serve the last two months of Conyers’ term was narrowly won by Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. But Jones has yet to decide whether she wants to hold the seat as a caretaker because she would have to resign from the city council.
Tlaib, 42, served in the Michigan House from 2009 until 2014. She defeated five other candidates to win the nomination to run for a full term representing the heavily Democratic district, which covers much of Detroit and some of its suburbs. She edged Jones for the Democratic nomination, 31% to 30%.
Conyers Has Served in the House Since 1964
The 89-year-old Conyers was first elected to the House in 1964. He stepped down in December citing health reasons, though several former female staffers had accused him of sexual harassment.
“This is a huge victory for the Arab and Muslim American communities — it’s also a huge victory for the city of Detroit,” said Sally Howell, director of the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. “Rashida Tlaib brings forward the legacy of John Conyers in terms of the groundbreaking role he played in Congress and his commitment to civil rights.”
Conyers’ seat was among three open House seats in Michigan heading into the primary, including another that the Democrats expect to keep and a Republican-held seat they hope to flip in their push to take control of the chamber.