On the campaign trail, Kilpatrick must explain what she has done in Congress for Detroit and Downriver.
Likewise, Sen. Clarke first ought to show that he will stay in this race to the end, unlike the governor’s race where he dropped out the same week he made his announcement.
For voters to be assured that this is not just a mere political stunt or grandstanding, Clarke has to establish himself as a serious candidate who wants to go to Washington for better and effective representation.
Clarke has hinted that he has been approached by supporters and others who don’t think 13th Distirct is getting enough represenation in Congress.
Bent on running a grassroots campaign, he dismissed the notion that he needs a lot of money whereas Congresswoman Kilpatrick has a war chest of more than $300,000.
On my way back from Chicago this past weekend, a former Detroit legislative staffer expressed doubt that Kilpatrick can be unseated. Though she admitted that the congresswoman is very vulnerable in an age of anti-incumbency that is rattling Washington, the current political climate in Detroit is also unhelpful for her when the former mayor is in court every other week answering to restitution charges.
While the former administration has been starved of power and influence, what’s coming out of Wayne County Judge David Groner’s courtroom backed by the media frenzy only serves to sway public opinion against the name Kilpatrick. Whether Clarke has a muscle or not largely depends on what happens three months from now.
Clarke, who has a reputation for legislative advocacy describing himself as a “street fighter” from Detroit’s east side, has a task to explain to voters why he is a better alternative. Aside from the normal talk of what Washington is missing, members of the 13th District must demand concrete programs that would better their lives.
Voters should not tolerate any representative who is showing up at their homes for the first time because they are facing a challenging race.
An insider in Congresswoman Kilpatrick’s camp said she would not comment on Clarke’s announcement of joining the race. The person said that is tantamount to dignifying his candidacy and perhaps placing Clarke on an equal footing with the congresswoman. Kilpatrick will just continue her work in Congress. That kind of thinking has its limitations. This was reflected two years ago when the congresswoman famously said Waters was not on her level. In fact, she said neither of her opponents was “fit to carry my bra.” Yet she nearly lost to Rep. Waters and most likely would have had Sen. Scott dropped out of the race.
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