Out of the redistricting upheaval that reformed Michigan's 6th state House district, one woman has emerged as the Democratic candidate for state representative.
She's state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who will go on to face two challengers this November in the new 6th District after a bitterly-contested primary contest.
She fought a hard race, winning with 52 percent against her colleague in the Michigan house, state Rep. Maureen Stapleton, who received 44 percent of the vote, as of 1:30 a.m. Patrick D. O'Connell of Ecorse also ran in the race, but only pulled in four percent of the vote. At this time, 98 percent of precincts have reported tallies, according to the Freep.
Since the beginning, Tlaib's race against fellow incumbent Stapleton had been hard to predict.
The new district's boundaries include constituencies from both Tlaib and her Stapleton's current districts. It stretches roughly from Detroit's Indian Village neighborhood along the Detroit River, down past River Rouge and into the city of Ecorse.
Tlaib, who currently serves Michigan's 12th state House District, was first elected to that district in 2008. She is a progressive Democrat and the first Muslim woman elected to serve in Michigan's legislature.
Born and raised in southwest Detroit, Tlaib is the daughter of Palestinian immigrant parents and the eldest of 14 children, the 36-year-old legislator got her start in politics as a policy analyst for former Democratic Floor Leader Steve Tobocman. She won his seat at his urging, when term limits ended his House career. Prior to that, Tlaib was involved in nonprofit work and grassroots activism, advocating for progressive justice issues like affirmative action.
Tlaib, a married mother of two, told The Huffington Post that she considers her highest priorities to be public safety and education. Her public safety initiatives include sponsoring a bipartisan bill to address scrap metal theft and working with the 36th District Court to establish a community court in Southwest Detroit. The court, based on a model developed in Red Hook Brooklyn, would offer alternatives to incarceration for "quality-of-life" crimes like prostitution, small-time burglary and vandalism.
Tlaib made a name for herself through her passionate advocacy of progressive issues. She's also notable for taking a somewhat unorthodox approach to politics that includes operating a neighborhood service center for constituents and blocking traffic to raise awareness about issues she supports.
Maureen Stapleton, 49, has only been a state representative since 2010. But she's racked up an extensive history in public service, working as teacher for Detroit Public Schools and holding a variety of administrative positions in municipal and county government. The daughter of a Detroit teacher and Detroit police officer, Stapleton grew up on the city's northwest side.
Tlaib will square off in the general election this coming November against Republican challenger Darrin Daigle, as well as Green Party candidate and Detroit School Board Member Elena Herrada.
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