Surge in women political candidates makes its way to Michigan

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LANSING – The Secretary of State recently announced the 2018 Michigan unofficial primary candidates, including  two women, either of whom could could become the first Muslim woman to hold a seat in Congress. They are examples of the rising tide of women and minorities running for political offices in 2018.

The Center For American Women and Politics, in New Jersey, say in Michigan there are 20 women running for Congress or statewide political offices such as secretary of state, attorney general, governor or lieutenant governor.

Democrats have the most women candidates for those positions with 14 for Congress,  one for attorney general and one for secretary of state. Republicans are running three for Congress and one for attorney general, said Chelsea Hill, information service coordinator at the center.

That’s a record number of women candidates in Michigan, Hill said.  The state only had seven women running for Congress and none for statewide offices in 2016.

Michigan is not the only state to see changes in the number of women running for politics.

The National Conference of State Legislature  reported for 2018 that 1,874 women serve in the 50 state legislatures That means women make up 25.4 percent of state lawmaker posts  nationwide. That’s up a bit from 2017 when the ratio was 24.9 percent of women serving in all state legislators.

Michigan has 37 women in its state legislature, with 33 in the House and four in the Senate, according to the national conference of state legislature.    

The legislature includes minority women, seven are African Americans, one is Asian American and two are Latin American, according to the center.

Michigan has one woman in Congress, an African American Democrat from Detroit named Brenda Lawrence.

The center won’t have a full report on minority women candidates running in Michigan until after the primary elections, Hill said.

Some women candidates say regardless of background, color, religion and other factors, what is important that all women start running for politics.  

Women are the largest voting block, said Candius Stearns, a Macomb County Republican  who is running for Michigan’s 9th Congressional District.

Doing so could bring a different perspective to the table.

Listen to an interview with Sterns. 

The Spartan Newsroom asked two Michigan candidates what it is like running in 2018 as a woman and a member of a minority group:

Fayrouz Saad (Democrat)  

From: Detroit

Running for: 11th Congressional District  

If elected, Saad would be the first American Muslim woman in Congress.

Being the daughter of immigrants has pushed her into public service and government to protect the American dream, Saad said. When Donald Trump was elected president, that dream was  threatened.

Regardless of color, gender, socioeconomic status or religion, it is important for everyone to be at the table making the political policies that will affect their daily lives, she said.

Her candidacy is not about being the first American Muslim woman to be in Congress and making history, she said.  

“I am running to fight for the values that I believe in, progressive values like Medicaid for all, inclusive economy and a strong education system,”  Saad said.

Listen to an interview with Saad.

Rashida Tlaib (Democrat)

From: Detroit

Running for: 11th Congressional District

If elected, Tlaib would be the first American Muslim woman in Congress.

As a member of Michigan’s legislature, Tlaib said she faced many struggles as a women and a Muslim. She was asked for her birth certificate as a joke, has been told she would bomb the city of Lansing and even received hate mail, she said. Drawing inspiration from her grandmother Tlaib said she persevered, and fights as a community advocate against general policies being passed by Congress and the president.

“I truly believe if we are to solve some of the complex issues in our country, we need to put mothers and women in the room,” Tlaib said.   

Listen to an interview with Tlaib.

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