Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (Mich.), a passionate defender of her scandal-plagued son, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, now has to defend herself against two formidable Democratic primary opponents.
State Sen. Martha Scott and former state Rep. Mary Waters are challenging the Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman in the Aug. 5 primary. And while Scott might have the higher name identification because of her office, Waters is making waves with a potent ad that attacks the Congresswoman over the mayors scandal and uses her own words against her.
In connection with his alleged affair with his former chief of staff and his attempts to cover it up in a whistle-blower trial Mayor Kilpatrick has been charged with eight felony counts that could add up to decades in jail.
Through this and other controversies the mayor has weathered over his six years in office, Rep. Kilpatrick has defended her son.
But it is her spirited defense of the mayor during the kickoff of his 2005 re-election campaign that is particularly well-known among Detroit voters and political insiders.
He didnt just get up in here by just coming, the Congresswoman yelled at the campaign rally a speech that has been disseminated on YouTube and political Web sites. Yall sent him up in here. Dont let nobody talk about yaws boy. Too many people died for us. Were here to fight. Thats what Im talking about.
Waters TV spot quotes the Congresswoman at her sons 2005 rally, while naming all eight felony counts alleged against her son and showing his mugshot.
Sorry Congresswoman, but we deserve much better than yaws boy, an announcer says in the ad.
The felony counts against Mayor Kilpatrick stem from a 2007 whistle-blower trial in which a jury ruled that former police officer Gary Brown and the mayors former bodyguard, Harold Nelthrope, were dismissed unfairly after investigating the mayors administration. Not only did the city have to spend $8.4 million on the trial, but a January news report unearthed a series of text messages that showed evidence contrary to the mayors testimony and revealed that he had been in a personal relationship with his chief of staff.
The situation is ironically similar to the way Kilpatrick took her Congressional seat in 1996. She defeated then-Rep. Barbara-Rose Collins, 52 percent to 31 percent, in a seven-way Democratic primary.
Collins was under investigation by the House ethics committee at the time, but she also had family problems: Her son served jail time for armed robbery during her first years in Congress.
Michigan pollster Steve Mitchell, who did work for Mayor Kilpatrick earlier in his tenure, said he thought Waters ad might backfire given the composition of the district. The 13th district is an urban area and the majority of the voters are women, a high percentage of whom are older than 50.
Its still a mother defending her son, Mitchell said. And Im not sure strategically ... to attack a mother for defending her son is a smart political move with a constituency [that is] very heavily mothers who have sons who have gotten into trouble.
However, Waters said she thinks Rep. Kilpatricks actions are fair game for the ad.
Rep. Kilpatricks campaign did not return calls for comment.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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