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Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, speaks with people outside a polling station in Inkster, Michigan, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020.  (Photo: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Progressive Rashida Tlaib Calls Primary Victory 'A Resounding Mandate to Put People Before Profits'

"We are done with establishment politics that put corporations first."

Eoin Higgins

Progressive Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was declared the winner in Michigan's 13th District on Wednesday  morning after handily fending off a challenge from a more centrist candidate in Tuesday's Democratic Primary.

With 87% of precincts reporting, various news outlets called the race for Talib, a one-term incumbent, as she held an insurmountable and commanding lead against Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who Tlaib defeated by 1% two years ago in a more crowded field.

In a statement declaring victory, Tlaib declared that voters in her district had made clear they were "done waiting for transformative change, that they want an unapologetic fighter who will take on the status quo and win."

"We have a resounding mandate to put people before profits," said Tlaib. "Let it be known that in the 13th District, just like in communities across our country, we are done with establishment politics that put corporations first."

The congresswoman gave a nod to her fellow first-term Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)— known collectively as "The Squad"—and the raft of other progressives who have upset centrist incumbents in primaries around the country.

"If I was considered the most vulnerable member of the Squad, I think it's safe to say the Squad is here to stay," Tlaib said, "and it's only getting bigger."

As the Associated Press reported:

The race was not just about an older establishment figure challenging a young, more liberal activist but also the racial dynamics in the district. The 60-year-old Jones, like more than half of the district's residents, is Black while Tlaib is Palestinian American.

Tlaib had a huge financial advantage over Jones, having raised more than $2 million. Jones was far outraised in 2018 but she almost won. The four other candidates backed Jones, while Tlaib was endorsed by unions, Bernie Sanders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"A dominant performance for the supposedly vulnerable incumbent," tweeted Politico's Tim Alberta. 

Andrew E. Bryant, a 71-year-old Tlaib supporter, told AP that he backed Tlaib because she is "a fighter."

"I look at the person that I think is best qualified," said Bryant. 

HuffPost described how Tlaib's outspoken progressive politics since the day she assumed office have helped her in the district:

Rather than keep a low profile, Tlaib almost instantaneously developed a reputation as an unabashed progressive brawler. The day she was sworn into office in January 2019, she made waves for declaring her intention to "impeach the motherfucker"― a reference to President Donald Trump. More recently, she raised eyebrows with her refusal to explicitly endorse former Vice President Joe Biden in a Newsweek interview (she also said that by focusing on turnout in her own race, she would help "deliver Michigan for Joe Biden").

Many of the qualities that have prompted those from the political center to criticize Tlaib have endeared her to a base of working-class Detroiters and progressive activists.

Tweeting Wednesday of her win, Tlaib said the victory was just the next step in an ongoing progressive project. 

"The work continues," Tlaib said. "Onward."


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