Early Wednesday morning, Rashida Tlaib won the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 13th District. She is running unopposed in November’s midterm election and is set to become the nation’s first Muslim congresswoman.
The district’s seat is currently empty after Congress’s longest-serving member Representative John Conyers resigned amid sexual harassment allegations. Tlaib faced five other Democratic candidates in the race for the seat, including Brenda Jones, who followed only four points behind Tlaib. Tuesday night’s watch party continued on until the early morning hours of Wednesday. Tlaib waited until every vote was counted before she celebrated her victory, even though the Associated Press had called it long before that. Around 3 a.m., it became clear that she was poised to become the first Muslim woman in Congress. Tlaib said, “I want people across the country to know that you don’t need to sell out. You don’t have to change who you are to run for office—and that is what this country is about.”
Tlaib is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants and a Detroit native. Not only will Tlaib be the first Muslim woman in Congress, but she will also be the first Arab-American Muslim in Congress. 90 Muslims have entered political races at local, state and national levels. This year, Tlaib was one of the few who made it past the primaries. “A lot of my strength comes from being Palestinian,” she said. “I will fight back against every racist and oppressive structure that needs to be dismantled. You deserve better than what we have today with our president.”
Tlaib is no stranger to challenging President Trump. In 2016, Trump delivered a speech as a candidate to the Detroit Economic Club, where Tlaib and 12 other women pressed him about his stance on sexual harassment in the workplace.
Watching my 11-year old's anxiety increase the more he hears from his friends about what Donald Trump said or wants to do if he is elected has been heartbreaking. So when I heard Trump was coming to Detroit to speak only a few miles from our home, I couldn't say no when I was offered a ticket to attend his speech.
Tlaib was removed from the rally and detained after asking Trump if he had ever read the U.S. Constitution. She went on to say, “I felt more and more that confronting Trump was the most patriotic and courageous act I could pursue.”
Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York's 14th District, Tlaib is not taking corporate PAC money to help fund her campaign. She has been campaigning all over her district, knocking on doors and talking to voters one-on-one. She has referred to voter interaction as her “comfort zone.” Ocasio-Cortez and other new-wave Democrats took to Twitter to congratulate Tlaib:
Jones won the district’s special election and will finish out Conyers’ congressional term until the general election in November.