An unapologetic progressive who was once kicked out of a luncheon for heckling Donald Trump is set to become first Muslim woman elected to Congress.
The candidate, Rashida Tlaib, defeated five Democratic contenders in a crowded primary for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, which includes part of Detroit, Tuesday night. She’ll run unopposed in the November general elections, since there’s no Republican running for the bright-blue district.
Democratic Rep. John Conyers represented the 13th District for more than 50 years. But Conyers left Congress in December after it emerged that he’d quietly settled a 2015 wrongful dismissal complaint made by an employee who said she endured years of sexual harassment.
“Thank you so much for making this unbelievable moment possible,” Tlaib tweeted early Wednesday morning. “I am at a loss for words. I cannot wait to serve you in Congress.”
Making history in government isn’t new to Tlaib: In 2008, she joined the Michigan state legislature and became its first-ever female Muslim lawmaker, serving for three terms before departing due to term limits. While in office, she pushed for causes like removing coal ash from Detroit rivers.
In 2016, she was also one of 14 protesters removed from a luncheon for shouting at President Donald Trump, who was speaking about his economic policies. Afterward, she told reporters, "He doesn't love Detroit. He doesn't love no one who isn't Donald Trump."
Tlaib, whose parents are Palestinian immigrants, later wrote an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press about her decision to protest Trump.
“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,” she wrote. “I told Trump that ‘our children deserve better’ and I asked him to provide a better example to our kids. I implored him to read the U.S. Constitution. And then I was grabbed by several security personnel who physically moved me to the exit while I continued to express my concerns.
Tlaib ran on an unapologetically progressive platform, focusing on issues like a $15 minimum wage, Medicare-for-All, and reducing student debt. That progressivism, and her commitment to sending federal funds to the 13th District — one of the country’s poorest — helped draw an endorsement from Detroit Free Press.
Technically, there’s still a chance that a write-in candidate could try to defeat Tlaib in November, but her campaign manager told CNN that dismissed that possibility Tuesday.
"The winner of tonight's primary will win the election," Andy Goddeeris told CNN. "No doubt about it."
Right now, the 13th District remains unrepresented in Congress. As of Wednesday morning, a special election to decide who fill finish out Conyers’ term remains uncalled. Tlaib is also participating as a candidate in that election, but her opponent Brenda Jones remains ahead.
Cover image: Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, is photographed outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, in this Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, file photo. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)