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US: Rashida Tlaib faces stiff challenge in Democrat primaries

Rashida Tlaib, Palestinian-American Congresswoman
Palestinian-American Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, wore a Palestinian traditional dress to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on 4 February 2020 [Rashida Tlaib/Twitter]

Rashida Tlaib is fighting for her political future in a bitter rematch in this year’s Democratic primary elections. The Representative from Michigan’s 13th congressional district, who is of Palestinian heritage, is thought to be the most at risk of losing her seat from the member of the so-called “squad”; a diverse group of progressive Democratic women who were elected to the House in 2018, that includes Ilhan Omar.

In a repeat of 2018 primary election, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, will seek to unseat Tlaib in a primary election that’s expected to go to the wire. Two years ago Tlaib defeated Jones in a closely fought election by a vote of 27,841 to Jones’ 26,941.

Jones has regrouped to challenge Tlaib by drawing the support of all four of their former rivals, including former state Senator Ian Conyers, as well as a large contingent of influential figures.

Tlaib’s critics appear to be using her high-profile image against her, claiming that she has become too preoccupied with national issues and failed to tend to her district. In one of the more stranger attacks on Tlaib, they have suggested that her outspokenness against President Donald Trump has hampered her work in Congress.

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Tlaib and her supporters have dismissed the allegations arguing that her critics are trying to caricaturize her by highlighting a few moments of less-than-polite behaviour and overlooking her legislative accomplishments and personal connection to her constituents.

Highlighting Tlaib’s work for the local community, her supporters have noted the support she has received from a wide range of unions and the four community offices built over the past two years. Tlaib is also said to have held more town hall-style events than most in Congress and ensured funding for her district in coronavirus relief legislation.

Dismissing further the allegation that Tlaib is more interested in national limelight than helping to improve the lives of people that vote for her. Her supporters also point to Tlaib’s successful in making amendments to an infrastructure plan Democrats pushed through the House this month to add $22.5 billion to replace lead pipes that contribute to the poisoning of children.

In a recent event Tlaib alluded to the campaign to undermine her saying: “I’m just Rashida here! At home, I’m just Rashida. I was born and raised in Detroit. People try to take that away from me.”

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