Tuesday, 07 August 2012 08:48
It’s expected to be a tight race in the new 14th Congressional District primary today. Local politics got wacky when Detroit lost a congressional seat due to low census numbers and the republican legislature got to design their dream districts, consolidating densely democratic areas into the 14th and 13th and pitting good leaders—who are otherwise colleagues— against one other in the August 7 primary.
The tension between promising democratic candidates running the new 14th district has become more obvious in the weeks before Election Day. It’s been called a “two man race” between Congressman Gary Peters and Congressman Hansen Clarke who have run a civil race for the past months, that is, until now.
Clarke recently began running radio ads on local hip-hop stations targeting black voters, proclaiming to be "one of us" while insisting that Peters lives in Republican presidential candidate "Mitt Romney's old neighborhood.”
Meanwhile, Peters has accused Clarke of courting tea party members who want to impeach President Obama.
One a press release reads:
“Congressman Hansen Clarke is spending the day in Detroit with “Tea Party Hero” Congressman Tim Scott from South Carolina who suggested the possibility of impeaching President Obama during last summer’s debt ceiling debate.”
Both ridiculous claims: Peters is like Romney, Clarke is a tea party supporter… and the sky is red. The truth is, they don’t really have any real beef, just this congressional primary to get past.
But there are other contenders in the race, namely Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence and former State Rep. Mary Waters, who have both been out shadowed by the leading men.
The other Dem. contender, Bob Costello, is too far off his rocker to really take seriously. The man believes there is a government crusade against Catholicism in the form of birth control options. Please.
So in case you missed the chatter, here’s what some lesser known candidates and Facebook political enthusiasts are saying about this tightly contested race on the web:
Mary Waters decided criticize Clarke instead of Peters. In a Facebook status she wrote:
“Did Congressman Hansen Clarke just realize that there were literacy issues in Detroit, amongst African Americans and Latinos? I worked on literacy issues as a State Rep along with the Governor, a columnist for the Free Press and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. His sudden revelation has prompted him to seek support from a black tea party republican Congressman Tim Scott of South Carolina who wants to impeach President Obama. Thank you Hansen Clarke for that one. Dunno.”
In a separate status post, Waters attacked Clarke again:
“Hansen Clarke started the racial issue himself. He introduces himself as Bangladeshi at meetings outside of Detroit. Detroiters you are the ones who want him to be Black. For those concerned about voter’s rights issues, Hansen does not fit the bill and that's the record that should be checked. The issue is not race.”
But in another post, Waters protected Peter’s integrity. She wrote on her FB status:
“I am in the 14th Congressional race because I decided to run. To mention Congressman Peters "paying me to run" is an insult to his character and integrity. People stop spreading such hateful lies.”
More FB chatter:
Detroit political enthusiast David Stephen wrote in his status post:
“Gary Peters earns the endorsement of the Michigan Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus. But Hansen Clarke is Bangladeshi, right?”
Commenter response to Stephen's post:
"Ouch. The REAL shame, however, is because ppl allowed the Repubs to take over the legislature and re-district, we have to choose one over the other. We need them BOTH in Congress. Think about THAT next time you think your 1 vote doesn't count in local elections.”
Brenda Lawrence has not gone very negative in her campaign. Instead, she is counting on women voters for her support. One her radio adds and campaign literature, she promotes female power (or the lack thereof) in congress.
One of Lawrence’s FB statuses reads:
“Ladies, sorors, my sisters, as a public servant, there are so many times I look around a room and I am the only woman seated at the table. It is not a mystery why there is a 'war on women' and we find our rights to make our own health care decisions chipped away. It is because we are not there. I know there are so many of you in your careers that are fighting that glass ceiling. We balance wife, mom and caregiver with careers. I support you in your challenge and I need your support in mine. Ladies, I need you to vote on August 7 and I need you to bring as many as you can with you. We must fight for our voice!!!”
Whoever you vote for today doesn't matter. Do your own research. The important part is that you vote! Excerise your power. Remember, all these people want to work for you!
Published in Minni Forman
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 07:44
Does It Matter If You’re Black or White?
Michael Jackson didn’t think it mattered but when it comes to the ballot box, voters do. The question is, should it?
As the August 7 primary creeps near, here’s some bad news for Congressman Hansen Clarke: Yesterday, the Black Slate, a grassroots organization-turned-PAC that was founded in 1973 to make sure black voters are educated on which candidates are best qualified for the community, endorsed congressman Gary Peters over Clarke despite that fact that, well, Peters isn’t white and Clarke identifies himself as a black man. So what just happened?
It’s the first time the Black Slate has endorsed a white candidate running for a seat in the U.S. House. As much as we try to avoid this, in a region as segregated and steeped in racial tension as Metro Detroit, yes.
Should it matter? No. Let the most qualified candidate win. Politics without racial consideration would be a beautiful thing. And while it’s not the 60’s anymore, the way votes are divided along racial lines, it’s clear we have a long way to go before people take race out of the equation at he ballot box.
Still, it’s decisions like the Black Slate’s to back Peters that gives hope to a new kind of politics. A kind inspired by President Barack Obama’s election almost four years ago where a black man can get the white vote, and a white man can get the black vote; A country where we truly judge candidates by their political history across the board and not the color of one’s skin.
That’s what the Black Slate has done with the Peters endorsement.
"Ron Hewitt, the coordinator for the Black Slate, said race wasn’t an issue in the selection. He said Peters 'voted with President (Barack) Obama more than any other candidate in this race; helped to pass the historic healthcare legislation; and was a leader in saving the automotive industry from collapsing.'
'[Peters] record was more in keeping with what we were looking for,” Hewitt said...'"
Now that the 14th congressional district has been re-drawn into strangely shaped and sprawling space spanning over of white suburban communities as well as black urban ones, the vote along racial lines could really make the difference. How important is it that we have a black representative in Washington?
Writer Jack Lessenberry put it this way in a February article in Hour magazine:
“The 13th and 14th districts theoretically should elect black congressmen. Michigan has had two African-Americans in congress since [John] Conyers was first elected in 1964…”
This raised a question in my mind that I’m still struggling to answer: When we forget about race are we also forgetting the recent past or are we taking the struggles of the past and turning them into the future Martin Luther King dreamed of?
Published in Minni Forman
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the Michigan Chronicle Digital Daily newsletter!