High-profile Dems fight for their seats as 5 states hold primaries

Fox News reports from the Midwest to the West Coast, intraparty campaign battles are coming to a head Tuesday as five states hold primary contests.

Among the races capturing national attention: A member of the quartet of female first-term progressive House Democrats known as “The Squad” faces a serious primary challenge in Michigan; a Democratic Party fixture and longtime member of the Congressional Black Caucus is fighting to keep his House seat in Missouri from a younger activist on the left and a Republican primary to replace a retiring Republican senator in Kansas pits an establishment-backed congressman versus a hardline conservative.

Here’s a look at some of the key races as Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state hold primary contests.

Michigan rematch

In Michigan’s overwhelmingly Democratic 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of Detroit and the inner suburbs of Wayne County, the Aug. 4 primary is a rematch from two years ago, as first-term Rep. Rashida Tlaib is trying to fend off Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

The district was held for more than half a century by John Conyers Jr., a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus who died last year. When Conyers stepped down in 2018 amid accusations of sexual harassment, Jones briefly held the seat after narrowly edging Tlaib in a special election to fill the rest of Conyers’ term.

But Tlaib won a separate election for the new two-year term, starting in 2019. That election included six candidates. Jones, who is Black, now enjoys the support of the other four candidates from the 2018 election. Tlaib is Palestinian American — and she made history alongside Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota in 2018 as the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

Race is a factor in the 2020 primary rematch.

“Making the argument to Detroiters that you should have another African American representative in Congress has historically been somewhat of a powerful message, and Jones is a known quantity as city council president,” noted Susan Demas, a Michigan-based political analyst and editor-in-chief of the Michigan Advance.

“I think the biggest weakness that Tlaib has is she’s not African American and she’s representing a majority minority district. Brenda Jones is. Will that make a difference to voters, given the fact that Tlaib is a person of color, she’s highly progressive, and is a known quantity in the district? That remains to be seen,” Demas said.

But Tlaib – a talented campaigner and fundraiser – has a massive campaign cash advantage over Jones, who was sidetracked from fundraising after contracting the coronavirus.

“Tlaib has a lot of advantages, between money and incumbency. It’s frankly just so difficult to campaign during a pandemic, so that gives incumbents even more of an advantage,” Demas highlighted.

Tlaib is no stranger to the spotlight. She made headlines the day she was sworn into Congress in January of last year, using an expletive in pushing for President Trump’s impeachment.

“We’re going to impeach the motherf****r,” Tlaib said at the time.

And she made headlines last year for booing 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a rally in Iowa.

Jones argues that Tlaib has ignored her district as she’s become too preoccupied with national issues.

“As Michigan’s 13th Congressional District Representative, Tlaib has worked hard to become an international rock star,” Jones tweeted two weeks ago. “Representative Tlaib has a huge war chest of nearly $2 million. The money in Rashida Tlaib’s war chest is mostly from people around the world.”

Tlaib pushed back against such arguments – saying her critics are highlighting just a few high-profile moments and overlooking her legislative achievements. This year she’s teamed up with fellow lawmakers to shield constituents from high water bills and water shutoffs, which many argue disproportionately hurt people of color.

“Nothing will ever stop me from putting you & your family first. I work hard for our district and have the receipts to prove it,” Tlaib tweeted on primary eve, as she showcased a list of her accomplishments.

Read more here.