Michigan primaries: Tlaib wins, and GOP may get another woman in the House

Democrats also get preferred candidate to face Upton

Democratic voters in Michigan renominated Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Tuesday.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Democratic voters in Michigan renominated Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:28am

Trailblazer and lightning rod Rep. Rashida Tlaib won the Democratic nomination for a second term in Michigan’s 13th District, defeating her short-term predecessor, Brenda Jones, results released Wednesday showed.

Republicans also chose Peter Meijer for the open 3rd District seat now held by Republican-turned-Libertarian Justin Amash, and Lisa McClain snagged the GOP nod for the deep-red 10th District seat now held by Republican Paul Mitchell. Both Amash and Mitchell are retiring.

National Democrats also got their preferred candidate to take on GOP incumbent Fred Upton in the 6th District.

Meijer, whose family owns a chain of supermarkets, will next face Hillary Scholten, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Meijer was leading a five-person field with 50 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race Tuesday at 11:42 p.m. Eastern time. State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis was second with 25 percent.

Meijer reported more than $400,000 in cash on hand as of July 15, while Scholten, a lawyer the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added to its Red to Blue program for strong recruits in late June, had about $570,000.

President Donald Trump carried the 3rd District by 9 points in 2016, though voters here narrowly backed Democrat Barack Obama for president in 2008. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Lean Republican.

Women vying in 10th

In the 10th District, businesswoman Lisa McClain defeated state Rep. Shane Hernandez for seat based in the state’s Thumb region.

McClain had 42 percent to Hernandez’s 36 percent when the AP called the race at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The race was reportedly the most expensive House race in Michigan this cycle, with outside groups pouring in more than $2 million in the primary. The political arm of the anti-tax Club for Growth spent $1.6 million either supporting Hernandez or opposing McClain, a political newcomer. A super PAC called US Future Fund spent almost half a million dollars on McClain’s behalf. McClain was also the top fundraiser in the race, bringing in $1.8 million through July 15, though that included a $1.45 million personal loan. Hernandez raised $534,000 and ended with a slight cash-on-hand edge, $153,00 to $151,000.

McClain’s win is a boost to GOP hopes of increasing their female ranks in the House. She’ll be the heavy favorite in November against Democrat Kimberly Bizon in a seat Trump carried by 32 points in 2016.

Tlaib repeats win over Jones

Tlaib, a member of the four-woman “squad” from the 2018 House Democratic freshman class, was leading with 66 percent to Jones’ 34 percent when the AP called the race at 9:47 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday.

The race was a rematch for Tlaib against the Detroit City Council president, who briefly held the seat at the end of 2018.

Tlaib and Jones had faced off in simultaneous primaries that year for a full two-year term and for the unexpired term of former Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr., who had resigned. Jones won the special primary and then the special election for Conyers’ remaining term, while Tlaib won the full-term primary and general election.

Tlaib garnered attention immediately after being elected as one of the many “firsts” of the 116th Congress. She was one of the first two Muslim women in the House, a barrier she had previously broken as the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature. She proudly celebrated her Palestinian roots when she was sworn into Congress in her mom’s thobe — a traditional embroidered dress — and put her hand on Thomas Jefferson’s Quran.

But unlike other Democratic primaries where incumbents faced strong challenges from the left this year, Tlaib was considered the more progressive of the two, and had a huge cash advantage, with $913,000 on hand as of July 15 to Jones’ $21,000.

Inside Elections rates the general election Solid Democratic. Tlaib’s Republican opponent had not been determined at press time.

Upton opponent picked

In the 6th District in southwestern Michigan, Democrats got their preferred candidate to take on Upton. State Rep. Jon Hoadley, who was added last week to the DCCC’s Red to Blue program, defeated science teacher Jen Richardson after outraising her 18-to-1.

Hoadley had 52 percent to Richardson’s 48 percent when the AP called the race at 10:13 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday. It was a narrower-than-expected victory for Hoadley, who had a slew of endorsements from Democratic and progressive groups and the support of prominent Democrats such as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Tlaib and California Sen. Kamala Harris.

Democrats have hopes of flipping the seat after Upton won by just 6 points in 2018, the closest race of his congressional career. Upton won his primary Tuesday night, 61 percent to 38 percent, over businesswoman Elena Oelke.

Hoadley raised $1.4 million through July 15 compared with Upton’s $2.1 million. The incumbent also ended the pre-primary reporting period with a sizable cash-on-hand advantage, $1.4 million to Hoadley’s $418,000.

Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican.

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.