Who Is Rashida Tlaib? Detroit Native Set to Become First Muslim Woman Elected to Congress

Former Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaib is set to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress after a historic win in the Democratic primary for the open House seat in Michigan's 13th District. 

Tlaib rose to victory in a tight and crowded race, claiming 33.2 percent of the vote and beating Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who garnered 29.2 percent of the vote, according to The New York Times. 

Tlaib will replace John Conyers Jr., who had represented the 13th District, which is in Wayne County and includes portions of Detroit and its suburbs, since 1965. He retired last year following allegations of sexual misconduct. 

Since there are no Republican candidates competing for the seat, Tlaib, after running against Jones in special election primary in the district, is expected to run unopposed in the general election on November 6.

'The Right Choice'

"Thank you so much for making this unbelievable moment possible," Tlaib tweeted to voters  early Wednesday morning. 

"I am at a loss for words. I cannot wait to serve you in Congress," she said. 

Despite enjoying less name recognition than Jones, Tlaib rose to victory on a strong grassroots campaign that managed to raise more than $1 million. 

The Detroit Free Press's editorial board had championed Tlaib as the "right choice for this important seat," saying the politician "pairs progressive politics with policy know-how" and has demonstrated a "commitment to social justice," while having a "reputation for solid delivery of constituent services." 

Tlaib, who is the daughter of two Palestinian immigrants and the oldest of 14 children, was born and raised in Detroit, according to her campaign website. 

The politician made history in 2008 when she won the race to become state representative, making her the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature.

Standing Up to Trump

Tlaib served three terms and rose to become the Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, where she "restored and secured millions of dollars for free health clinics, lead abatement, Meals on Wheels programs for seniors, before and after-school programs and education funding," according to her campaign website.

The politician has also made it clear that she plans to "stand up to Donald Trump," with her page insisting that "while Democrats are looking for leaders who will stand up to Donald Trump and our nation's most pressing problems, Rashida has an unparalleled record fighting for her constituents and values, taking on billionaires and multinational corporations and winning."

In fact, Tlaib has already had something of a run-in with Trump after she was removed from a rally at the Detroit Economic Club on August 8, 2016. 

Tlaib has previously said that she stood up during the event and demanded to know whether Trump had "ever read the U.S. Constitution," before shouting: "You need to read the U.S. Constitution!"

In an interview with CNN before the Democratic primary, Tlaib said that she was "detained" after she was ejected from the event, saying that it was "the most American thing I could ever do."

Tlaib, who is the mother of two sons, also addressed the need for diversity in Congress and government, saying: "I'm going to be a woman, a mom, a Muslimah, a Palestinian, an Arab and so many of these other layers of these identities depending on who I'm talking to and what they want to identify me as. 

"It's been lacking to have someone like myself there in Congress," she continued. "I get emotional about it because the pressure of running as a Muslim for so many [people] that I've been meeting, it's like you have to win." 

And win, she did. 

 

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