Primary vote could mean no Black Detroit member in Congress

State Rep. Shri Thanedar has won Michigan’s 13th Congressional Democratic primary, topping a field of nine candidates in a district that covers most of Detroit and a number of surrounding suburbs
Voting generic
Voting generic(Tony Webster / CC BY 2.0)
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 1:02 PM CDT
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DETROIT (AP) — State Rep. Shri Thanedar won Michigan’s 13th Congressional Democratic primary, topping a field of nine candidates in a district that covers most of Detroit and potentially leaving the predominantly Black city next term without Black representation in Congress for the first time since the early 1950s.

Results from Tuesday’s election show Thanedar, an immigrant from India, defeating state Rep. Adam Hollier and attorney Portia Roberson.

Detroit has not been without a Black representative in Congress since before Charles Diggs Jr. took office in 1955. Diggs was joined in Congress in 1965 by Democrat John Conyers, who retained his congressional seat for more than 50 years.

Detroit is about 80% Black and all of the other candidates in the primary were Black.

“This race was not about me,” Thanedar said Wednesday in a statement. “Michigan’s 13th Congressional district is one of the poorest in the country, and I will fight for economic and racial justice in Congress.”

The 13th District — redrawn through redistricting after Michigan lost a seat following the census — currently is represented by Brenda Lawrence, a Democrat from the Detroit suburb of Southfield. Lawrence earlier announced she would not be seeking a fifth term after Southfield was made part of the 12th Congressional District.

Martell Bivings, who is Black, ran unopposed in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the 13th District, but is a longshot to win the general election in the heavily Democratic leaning district.

Thanedar, an entrepreneur, moved to Detroit from Ann Arbor and was elected in 2020 to Michigan’s 3rd House District. He spent more than $10 million of his own money to run for governor in 2018 but finished third that year in the Democratic primary.