Get to know some of the candidates and issues in Michigan’s Aug. 2 primary election

Who’s who?

click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib is running for reelection in Michigan’s newly drawn 12th Congressional district. - Shutterstock
Shutterstock
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib is running for reelection in Michigan’s newly drawn 12th Congressional district.

Here is a glimpse at some of the most exciting congressional races in metro Detroit for the Aug. 2 primary election. Below is a list of Democratic primary races for the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th congressional districts. In all but the 10th District, Democrats are the heavy favorite in the general election. We also included the GOP gubernatorial race because the winner will take on Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Nov. 8.

10th Congressional District

Covers Rochester and Rochester Hills in Oakland County and a large swath of Macomb County, including Shelby Township, Warren, Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, St. Clair Shores, Fraser, and Eastpointe.

Summary: The winner of the Democratic primary will likely face two-time losing U.S. senate candidate John James, the overwhelming favorite to advance in the Republican primary. Polls show former Judge Carl Marlinga with a big lead, but with an expected low turnout and five candidates, anything can happen.

Democratic candidates:

Huwaida Arraf

The daughter of working-class immigrants, Arraf was born and raised in southeastern Michigan. She has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan and a juris doctor from American University. She is an attorney and human rights advocate who co-founded the International Solidarity Movement, a global organization focused on ending human rights abuses, supporting freedom, and challenging government oppression.

Endorsements: Ex-gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed; activists Amer Zahr, Medea Benjamin, Patrese Griffin, Roger Waters, and Frank Hammer; and more than 10 groups, including the Cannabis Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party

Platform: Clean air and water, affordable health care, safe and resilient communities, education for all, accessible and accountable leadership, and human and civil rights.

Carl Marlinga

Former circuit court and probate court judge and Macomb County prosecutor, Marlinga has plenty of experience winning elections. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney and is a founding board member of Care House. Marlinga is a graduate of the University of Michigan and University of Detroit.

Endorsements: Ex-Gov. James Blanchard, Ex-U.S. House Democratic Whip David Bonior, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor, Roseville Mayor Robert Taylor, and other former and current local politicians.

Platform: Abortion rights, good-paying jobs, advanced manufacturing, protection of the Great Lakes and waterways, and ending dependence on foreign oil.

Rhonda Powell

A native of Mount Clemens, Powell is a fourth-generation Macomb County resident. She has volunteered for Head Start, rotating homeless shelters, senior services, and community development. This is Powell’s first time running for an elected position.

Endorsements: Macomb County Commissioner Antoinette Wallace, Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus, The Collective PAC, We the People Action Fund, Michigan Liberation, and Eastside Slate & Progressive Organization.

Platform: Equitable pay, affordable health care, clean air and water, accountable government, labor unions, voting rights, and sustainable economy for all.

Angela Rogensues

Born and raised in Macomb County, Rogensues is serving her first term on the Warren City Council. She is the president of Ignition Media Group, a brand and marketing agency, and co-chairs the Michigan AFL-CIO Labor Caucus. Rogensues received a bachelor of science degree in health studies and psychology from Michigan State University and a master of arts degree in educating adults from DePaul University.

Endorsements: Michigan LiUNA, Democratic Municipal Officials, Democracy for America, Moms Demand Action, Ironworkers 25, and Bishop Charles Ellis.

Platform: Advocate for working and low-income families, abortion rights, civic engagement, arts and culture, voting rights, lower prescription drug costs, and animal welfare.

Henry Yanez

Born and raised in Sterling Heights, Yanez has served on Sterling Heights City Council since 2019. He was a longtime firefighter and served in the state House from 2012 to 2018. He received an associates degree in fire science and general studies from Oakland County College.

Endorsements: Everytown for Gun Safety, International Association of Firefighters, Michigan Association of Police, Michigan Democratic Party Hispanic & Latino Caucus, Democrats Serve, Sterling Heights Councilwomen Deanna Koski and Barbara Ziarko, Utica City Councilman Brad O'Donnell, former state representative and current Roseville City Treasurer John Chirkun

Platform: Veteran and senior services, accessible and affordable health care, public safety, and equal rights.

11th Congressional District

Covers a large section of Oakland County, including Farmington, Farmington Hills, Birmingham, West Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills, Pontiac, Oak Park, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Royal Oak, Berkley, Clawson, Waterford Township, Walled Lake, Wixom, and Auburn Hills.

Summary: This race pits moderate Democrat Haley Stevens against progressive Democrat Andy Levin. Both are incumbents. The winner of this race is heavily favored to prevail in the general election under new redistricting boundaries. It was previously a toss-up seat. Levin currently represents the 9th District but decided to run in the 11th District after districts were redrawn. A recent poll showed Stevens with a significant 58% to 31% lead over Levin.

Democratic candidates:

Haley Stevens

A native of Rochester Hills, Stevens won the 11th District seat in November 2019, becoming the first Democrat to carry the district since January 2013. She served as chief of staff to President Barack Obama’s U.S. Auto Rescue Task Force. Stevens attended American University and received a bachelor of arts in political science and philosophy and a master of arts in social policy and philosophy. Stevens worked on the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Obama.

Endorsements: U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence and 13 other members of Congress, Hillary Rodham Clinton, state Rep. Kelley Green, 23 local elected officials, Emily’s List, Michigan Democratic Black Caucus, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Detroit Regional Chamber, and numerous other groups and organizations.

Platform: Raise minimum wage, improve Affordable Care Act, create new jobs, education, protecting the environment, LGBTQ+ equality, “common sense” gun laws, veteran services, abortion rights, and addressing drug addiction.

Andy Levin

Born in Detroit, Levin succeeded his father, Sander Levin, in the U.S. House in 2019. (His father served in the U.S. House for 36 years.) From 2007 to 2011, Levin served as deputy director and then acting director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth under Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Levin received a bachelor’s degree from Williams College, a master’s degree in Asian languages and culture from the University of Michigan, and a juris doctor from Harvard Law School. Levin was arrested twice this month at protests supporting abortion rights. He currently lives in Bloomfield Township.

Endorsements: U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the Squad, an additional 16 former and current members of Congress, state Rep. Jim Ellison, dozens of local elected officials and leaders, 22 labor unions, 14 climate and environment organizations, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and numerous other groups.

Platform: Medicare for all, reducing prescription drug costs, environmental justice, jobs, education, peace and human rights, racial justice, LGBTQ+ equality, protecting social security, abortion rights, and voting rights.

click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Andy Levin: “I’m kind of the union organizer in Congress.” - Courtesy of Andy Levin
Courtesy of Andy Levin
U.S. Rep. Andy Levin: “I’m kind of the union organizer in Congress.”

12th Congressional District

Covers parts of west Detroit, Dearborn, Southfield.

Summary: Incumbent Rashida Tlaib is running in a new district against two opponents with a proven record of winning elections. With a national fanbase, Tlaib, a member of the Squad, has far outraised her opponents, but outside political action committees with ties to Israel have funded one of her rivals, Janice Winfrey. Tlaib is widely considered the favorite, and the district is heavily Democratic.

Democratic candidates:

Rashida Tlaib

A congresswoman since 2019, Tlaib currently represents the 13th District but decided to run for the 12th District seat after the districts were redrawn. Tlaib was born to working-class Palestinian immigrants, graduated from Southwestern High School, and received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Wayne State University and a juris doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Tlaib served in the state House from 2009 to 2014.

Endorsements: Michigan AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, the Black Slate, Clean Water Action, Democratic Socialists of America, Detroit Free Press, Sierra Club, and dozens of other groups, unions, and politicians.

Platform: Environmental justice, universal health care, police reform, racial, immigration and LGBTQ+ justice, human rights, and affordable housing.

Janice Winfrey

Winfrey has been the Detroit city clerk since 2005, and the Detroit native won her last election by more than 70% of the vote. A graduate of Cass Tech High School and Eastern Michigan University, Winfrey ran for Congress in the 13th District against incumbent John Conyers Jr. in 2016, but lost.

Endorsements: Detroit Council members Angela Calloway and Fred Durhal III, state Rep. Tyrone Sanders, Bishop Charles Ellis, Pastor Spencer Ellis, Rev. Horace Sheffield, and Rev. Jim Holley.

Platform: Jobs, education, health care, a “one-state solution” for Israel, clean water, police reform, and better infrastructure.

Shanelle Jackson

A former state representative who served from 2007 to 2o12, Jackson was the youngest woman of color to get elected to the Michigan Legislature. In 2018, Jackson unsuccessfully ran for Congress in the 13th District. The businesswoman was born and raised in northwest Detroit.

Endorsements: N/A

Platform: Jobs, education, pay equity, pro-Ukraine and Israel, supports cryptocurrency, affordable health care, higher minimum wage, and veteran services.

Kelly Garrett

Currently the mayor of Lathrup Village, Garrett is the first Black person to hold the position. She served as mayor pro tem from 2013 to 2017. Garrett has a history of charitable work and serves on the Mothering Justice Board and is a subsidiary advisory board member for Community Health at St. John/Ascension Hospital. She also was appointed to the Michigan State Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in management from Rochester University and a master’s degree in information systems from the University of Phoenix.

Endorsements: N/A

Platform: Improved infrastructure, affordable health care, public safety reform, increased funding for cities, and support for small businesses.

13th Congressional District

Covers much of Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, the Grosse Pointes, northern Downriver communities.

Summary: This is bound to be one of the most competitive races. With 13 big-name Democrats running, it’s likely to be a close contest. State Sen. Adam Hollier has outraised his opponents and is receiving more than $2 million from a pro-Israel political action committee. The district is heavily Democratic.

Democratic candidates:

State Sen. Adam Hollier

A one-term state senator, Hollier previously worked in Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration. He was born and raised in the North End of Detroit and is a graduate of Detroit public schools. He received a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University and a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan. The establishment choice, Hollier has picked up more endorsements than anyone else and is leading the pack in donations.

Endorsements: Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson and Seth Moulton, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, four state senators including Democratic Leader Jim Annanich, 16 community leaders, 11 faith leaders, and 36 unions and organizations.

Platform: Jobs, education, clean water, community investments, fair housing, and affordable auto insurance.

John Conyers III

The son of the late U.S. Rep. John Conyers, who held the seat for nearly 53 years, Conyers is an entrepreneur and political newcomer. Born and raised in Detroit, Conyers attended Morehouse College and The New School, majoring in philosophy. Conyers ran for the seat in 2018 but was disqualified over problems with his nominating petitions.

Endorsements: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Wayne County Sheriffs and Airport Police Retirees Association, former state Rep. Derrick F. Halle, Romulus Police Commissioner Vonda Cooley, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Detroit Chapter, and others.

Platform: Economic justice, housing reform, criminal justice and health care reform, social security and disability services.

Sharon McPhail

An attorney, former Detroit City Council member, past candidate for mayor, and ex-member of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s legal counsel, McPhail has plenty of experience in politics. She received a bachelor of arts degree from Northwestern University, where she also earned her law degree. She served as a U.S. attorney and was a staff attorney for Ford Motor Co., and is active in community organizations and as a board member of Women Empowered, Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, and Orchards Children Services.

Endorsements: Michigan Democratic Black Caucus and Detroiters United.

Platform: Education, jobs, gun control, abortion rights, and improving services for children, senior citizens, and low-income residents.

Portia Roberson

A lifelong resident of the district, Roberson graduated from Cass Tech High School and received a bachelors of arts degree from the University of Michigan and a juris doctor from Wayne State University Law School. She is an attorney, CEO of Focus:Hope, and chairwoman of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. Roberson served in the administrations of President Barack Obama, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

Platform: Civil rights, upward economic mobility, living wages, fair workplace environments, and higher taxes for corporations.

Endorsement: U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, former Mayor Dave Bing, Wayne County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Alisha Bell, Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree, The Detroit Free Press, and numerous others.

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo

A lifelong resident of Detroit, Gay-Dagnogo received a bachelor of science degree and a masters in education instructional technology from Wayne State University. She’s a member of the Detroit Public Schools board, a former Detroit Public Schools science teacher, and served three terms as a state representative for the 8th District. In the state House, she was the first woman to serve as chair of the Michigan Legislative Detroit Caucus and was a passionate defender of equal access to justice.

Endorsements: Detroit City Council members James Tate, Angela Calloway, Fred Durhal II, and LaTisha Johnson, state Rep. Tenisha Yancey, state Sen. Betty Jean Alexander, and more than a dozen faith and community leaders.

Platform: Education, forgiving student loans, job creation, criminal justice reform, crime reduction, environmental justice, equal pay for women, and free and fair elections.

click to enlarge Shri Thanedar at the Metro Times office. - Tom Perkins
Tom Perkins
Shri Thanedar at the Metro Times office.

Shri Thanedar

An immigrant, scientist and entrepreneur, Shri Thanedar hit the political scene in 2018 when he ran for governor. He placed third in the Democratic primary, but beat his opponents in Detroit. He moved to the Motor City and was elected to the state House in 2020. His campaign is self-funded, and he says he’s driven by a desire to help people.

Endorsements: Indian American Impact Fund

Platform: Universal health care, abortion rights, gun safety, voting rights, economic empowerment, and criminal justice reform.

Sam Riddle

Sam Riddle is a longtime Detroiter who earned his GED while serving in the Army. He received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University’s James Madison College and a juris doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. Riddle was sentenced to 37 months in prison in 2010 after pleading guilty to bribery. He’s the political director of the National Action Network.

Endorsements: Rev. Charles E. Williams II, New Black Panther Party Minister Malik Shabazz, Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Waters, artist and music producer The Black Man James Harris, and Michigan National Action Network.

Platform: Universal health care, human rights, environmental justice, increase social security payments, student loan forgiveness, universal basic income, and abortion rights.

Michael Griffie

The son of a special education teacher and school social worker, Griffie took a path similar to his parents after graduating from Wayne State University. He was an English teacher, basketball coach, and after-school program director before becoming the founding principal of a charter school in Detroit. He was also a principal of a Michigan Reward School in Hamtramck. He’s currently a civil rights lawyer and senior managing director of external affairs at Teach for America.

Endorsements: N/A

Platform: Education, abortion rights, living wage, safe working environments, affordable health care, lower prescription drug costs, and improved mental health care.

Lorrie Rutledge

Born in Detroit, Rutledge graduated from Cass Tech High School and is a recent graduate of Henry Ford Community College, where she earned an associate in business administration. After graduating from high school, she started a career at Detroit Edison in steam engineering and power generation and received a High Pressure Boiler Operator license. An advocate of organic health, Rutledge is a natural product manufacturer and distributor.

Endorsements: N/A

Platform: Safer environment, education, improved health care, collective bargaining, economic development, and abortion rights.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley spotted amid the mob on Jan. 6. - Via FBI
Via FBI
GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley spotted amid the mob on Jan. 6.

Republican primary election for governor

Summary: Five Republicans are competing for the chance to face Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November. All of the candidates have embraced conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election and have sought the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. They all are opposed to abortion rights, and most of them don’t support exemptions for rape or incest. The candidates have struggled to gain statewide name recognition, never served in elected office, and have been unable to raise the kind of money that Whitmer has.

Tudor Dixon

Born in Pennsylvania, Dixon grew up in suburban Chicago and moved to Michigan in 2002. A conservative commentator and former steel employee, the Norton Shores resident portrays herself as a Christian soldier fighting against liberal causes. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kentucky. She is considered the establishment candidate.

Endorsements: DeVos family, former Gov. John Engler, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga and Lisa McClain, and Right to Life.

Platform: Election security, anti-abortion rights, public safety, reduced personal income tax, more workforce training, education, pro-Second Amendment, and anti-sanctuary cities.

Kevin Rinke

A millionaire and longtime businessman, Rinke made his fortune in auto dealerships. The feisty, Bloomfield Hills Republican has branded himself as an “outsider” who has the business smarts to “restore Michigan’s greatness.” He’s injected millions of dollars of his own money in the race, some of which financed an ad that falsely claimed “dead” people vote for Democrats. Several lawsuits in the 1990s claimed he made racist and sexual comments to his employees.

Endorsements: N/A

Platform: Lower taxes, public safety, fewer COVID-19 restrictions, parents' right to participate in education, anti-critical race theory, pro-Second Amendment, and election security.

Ryan Kelley

An Allendale real estate broker, Kelley made national news when the FBI arrested him for joining a mob that violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He was previously appointed to serve as an Allendale planning commissioner. He built his political reputation fighting COVID-19 restrictions and spreading lies about widespread election fraud. He attended Grand Rapids Community College but dropped out.

Endorsements: Ex-state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, former GOP House Whip Kevin Green, retired Lowell Police Chief Steve Bukala, National Firearms Coalition, Bikers for Trump, and others.

Platform: Election security, government accountability, pro-Second Amendment, private school vouchers, eliminate COVID-19 restrictions, reduce taxes, and anti-abortion rights.

Garrett Soldano

A chiropractor-turned-activist, Soldano became a leader in organizing protests against Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions. He routinely bashed masks and vaccine policies in near-daily videos on social media, drumming up support from people frustrated by the restrictions. Soldano received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Western Michigan University, where he also played football. He also attended Palmer College of Chiropractic in Iowa.

Endorsements: N/A

Platform: Anti-COVID-19 restrictions, anti-abortion rights, anti-cancel culture, election security, pro-Second Amendment, government transparency, and personal liberties.

Ralph Rebandt

A recently retired Farmington Hills pastor, Rebandt says he is all about reviving “Judeo-Christian values.” The 64-year-old founded and operated Oakland Hills Community Church. He supports Bibles in schools and wants to eliminate public universities.

Endorsements: N/A

Platform: Anti-abortion rights, government transparency, eliminate public universities, ban same-sex marriage, lower gas prices, and reduce government spending.

Ballot proposal

Wayne County residents will be asked to renew funding for the Wayne County Jail.

The proposal reads:

“To renew the millage authorized in 2012, shall Wayne County be authorized to continue to levy this millage at the 2021 rollback rate of .9358 mills (about 94 cents per thousand dollars of taxable valuation) for ten more years (2022 through 2031) for any of the following previously authorized uses:

“To acquire, construct, and/or operate jail, misdemeanant, or juvenile incarceration or detention facilities, and for adult penalty options such as work release, home detention and community restitution; with at least one-tenth of the millage used to acquire, build and operate a juvenile offender work/training institution? This renewal is estimated to generate approximately $45,074,507 in property tax revenue in 2022.”

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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