Brenda Lawrence, Michigan’s only black member at US House, won’t show up


United States Representative Brenda Lawrence D-Southfield announced Tuesday night that she will not be running for office this year, which means Michigan will lose its only current black member of Congress.

A first statement sent by his office did not explain his decision not to run for a fifth two-year term in the United States House. On Wednesday, she clarified that she was leaving to spend more time at home. “Now is a good time to turn the page and spend more time with my family – my husband, my daughter, my son and my granddaughter – and put them first,” she said.

It had been widely assumed that Lawrence was not happy with the new redistribution process, which linked his original base of Southfield and the west side of Detroit to Dearborn, Westland and other parts of western Wayne County. that she did not represent. On Wednesday, she said her decision was not prompted by the changes.

“The redistribution was not a factor in my decision,” she said. “Although it would have been a difficult race, I have no doubts that I would have been re-elected.”

U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, announced on Wednesday that she will be moving to run in the new district. Even though Tlaib lives in a different part of Detroit, the new neighborhood connects much of the area she currently represents to Dearborn and Southfield.

First elected to Congress in 2014, Lawrence represents a district that until now has connected Southfield and other parts of southeast Oakland County with the east side of Detroit, downtown, Hamtramck and Grosse Pointes.

“Today, after reflecting on my trip – and oh my God, what a trip – and having conversations with my family, I am announcing that I will not be seeking re-election to Congress,” Lawrence said in his statement. initial. “I am incredibly grateful to the people of Michigan’s 14th Congressional District who trusted me – a little black girl from east Detroit.”

Following: Michigan Redistribution Commission adopts congressional final map for next decade

Lawrence, 67, said she would spend the rest of the year fighting to pass suffrage laws and protect women’s rights and the environment. A former mayor of Southfield who ran unsuccessfully for the executive and lieutenant governor of Oakland County, she is the state’s only Democratic member on the House appropriations committee.

She becomes the 25th Democratic member of the House to declare that she is not running for re-election this year. Only 11 Republican members have said they will not be running. She is so far the only member of the Michigan delegation to say that she is not showing up.

Lawrence’s allies and others have raised questions about the new district boundaries, which were set by an independent commission but got rid of two predominantly black districts in the state, the 14th and 13th, which is completed by Tlaib. On Monday, some Detroit lawmakers said they plan to press charges against the new cards.

Michigan will lose a congressional seat due to faster population growth in other parts of the country, bringing its total number of seats to 13. As part of the redistribution process, Lawrence’s house in Southfield has been merged with both parts of the Tlaib and Dearborn District, which is currently represented by US Representative Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn.

Dingell had previously said she was planning to show up in a new neighborhood anchored around Ann Arbor. Lawrence’s decision, along with Tlaib’s, is expected to spark a race for a solid Democratic seat anchored in downtown Detroit and the city’s east side with southeast Oakland County and the Points.

There is also no doubt that Lawrence’s departure will underscore the concerns of black voters, especially in Detroit and its suburbs, about the dilution of their political strength.

“I keep in mind that I am currently the only black member of the Michigan congressional delegation,” Lawrence said, echoing those concerns. “Whether in Congress halls, town halls or local school boards, representation matters.”

Dingell called Lawrence’s commitment “a commitment to his communities … unparalleled.”

“Throughout her 30 years of public service, she has supported Michigan students while serving on the Southfield Public Schools Board of Education, brought communities together as the mayor of Southfield and linked her work as a struggling representative for American jobs and child care, among many other significant issues, in Michigan’s 14th District. I am grateful to have worked with Brenda. “

Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress and who is Palestinian American, said it was an honor to work alongside Lawrence.

“As a Detroiter, Michigander and woman of color in politics, I extend my deep gratitude to Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence for her partnership and support,” Tlaib said. “Detroit and its surrounding communities have been fortunate to be represented by notable, historic and pioneering figures in Congress – Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence will truly go down in history as one.”

Contact Todd Spangler at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @tsspangler. Read more on Michigan politics and subscribe to our election newsletter.

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