Following Tuesday’s primary in Michigan, former state legislator Rashida Tlaib is poised to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.
Tlaib won the Democratic nomination for the 13th District seat previously held by Rep. John Conyers Jr., who resigned from office earlier this year after he was accused of sexual harassment.
No Republicans ran in the Detroit-centered district, which backed Hillary Clinton by a wide margin in 2016. But Tlaib did face stiff competition: She was one of six Democratic candidates. Among those running for the seat were Conyers’s grandnephew, state Sen. Ian Conyers, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and Westland Mayor Bill Wild.
Tlaib, a native of southwest Detroit, became the first Muslim woman to serve in Michigan’s legislature in 2008. The oldest of 14 children and the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, she was the first in her family to attend college; neither her father, a Ford assembly line worker, nor her mother attended high school.
Tlaib graduated from Wayne State University and Thomas Cooley Law School and worked in the nonprofit world before entering politics. In August 2016, she was among more than a dozen protesters who made headlines when they interrupted a speech by President Trump to the Detroit Economic Club.
In an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press, she wrote that “confronting Trump was the most patriotic and courageous act I could pursue.” She added that it was “heartbreaking” to see her 11-year-old son become increasingly anxious upon hearing from friends about Trump’s remarks during the campaign.
Before the general election in November, Tlaib has one more battle ahead of her
Results in a separate special primary to fill the remaining months of Conyers’s term through January were too close to call as of Wednesday morning.
With 95.7 percent of precincts reporting, Jones, the Detroit City Council president, held a slight edge over Tlaib in that race, meaning that she is likely to represent the district in Congress for roughly two-and-a-half months before Tlaib begins a full two-year term in January 2019.