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By: The Oakland County Times

2018 Candidate Interview: Ellen Lipton for Congress, 9th District

Berkley, Clawson, Centerline, Eastpointe, Ferndale, Fraser, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Madison Heights, Royal Oak, Roseville, St. Clair Shores, Sterling Heights, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Franklin, Bloomfield Township, Clinton Township, Royal Oak Township and Southfield Township, MI

Ellen Lipton is running for Congress in the 9th District on the Democratic Primary Aug. 7, 2018. Also on the Democratic ballot are Martin Brook, and Andy Levin.

Candius Stearns is running unopposed in the Republican Primary.

The winner of the Democratic Primary will face Stearns in the Nov. 6, 2018 election.

Check out the interview with Lipton below:



Oakland County Times does not endorse any candidates, and all are welcome to do interviews. Contact editor@oc115.com for more information. For more candidate interviews go to our Aug. 7 Primary Election Page.
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By Ingrid Jacques, The Detroit News

I recently got an email from EMILY’s List, a powerful organization that seeks to elect Democratic, pro-abortion rights women. And while I don’t often agree with the group’s mission, this email did resonate with me.

It called out Andy Levin for a dismissive comment he made about Ellen Lipton, his Democratic opponent for Michigan’s 9th District congressional seat.

In an interview, Levin said this about Lipton, who served three terms as a representative in Michigan’s Legislature: “I think it’s fine to be in a safe seat in the state Legislature for a few terms or whatever…But I have run programs that have consistently changed people’s lives.”

Politics can get nasty. Fine. But women involved in the public sphere often get hit harder, and in a different way than men do. Attacks against the fairer sex — from both parties — often involve barbs dealing with appearance, intelligence and other qualities that have little to do with partisan disagreements or policies. And these insults don’t just come from men. Women often do it to other women.

One of the favorite targets of the left, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, knows this well. Just this week, on a visit to a school in Erie, Pennsylvania, she was met by protesters, many of them teachers, shouting at her and holding insulting signs, including this one: “Bimbo Betsy’s so dumb she can’t even read this sign.”

It was the latest example of women in politics being harassed and intimidated.

That’s why Champion Women, spearheaded by Independent Women’s Voice, is so refreshing. It launched earlier this month, with a clear mission to call out examples of incivility and highlight the accomplishments of women.

And even though IWV, along with its sister organization Independent Women’s Forum, tends to promote a conservative, free-market agenda, it’s hoping this effort is fully bipartisan as current trends in incivility impact so many women.

The mission statement of Champion Women declares all women should be “treated with dignity and respect.”

It goes on to say this is a movement “committed to championing the ideas and amplifying the voices of all women. Too often on social media, in public, and in the news people try to diminish the influence, perspectives, and policy solutions put forth by women by degrading their appearance and delegitimizing their qualifications.”

Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women’s Forum, says the launch of the program has gone well and that there has “been a good deal of interest.”

She says the group is still seeking to involve more women on the left, some of whom are skeptical this is just about advocating for conservative women.

It’s not, and the more women who get involved, the better. That aim to be inclusive sets Champion Women apart from other pro-women movements, such as the Women’s March, which has blatantly made conservative women feel unwelcome.

I’ve joined several dozen other women as a digital ambassador for Champion Women, to help draw attention on social media to mistreatment of women and to make a stand for respectful dialogue.

Surely that’s something we can all agree on.

ijacques@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques
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By Melissa Nann Burke, The Detroit News

Michigan Democrats continue to haul in big sums of money in competitive U.S. House districts with the primary election three weeks away.

Democratic House hopefuls Elissa Slotkin and Gretchen Driskell each raised more money than incumbent Republican U.S. Reps. Mike Bishop of Rochester and Tim Walberg of Tipton, respectively, for the quarter ending June 30.

Slotkin topped $1.1 million for the reporting period — more than any other Democrat running for the U.S. House in Michigan.

Slotkin, a former top defense official, has nearly $2.25 million in cash reserves, besting Bishop’s $1.68 million war chest. Bishop raised just under $589,000 for the quarter, according to campaign finance reports.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report last week shifted the race in Michigan’s 8th District from “leans Republican” to a toss-up. Slotkin’s campaign said over 75 percent of donations in the past quarter were under $100.

The Bishop campaign has tried to portray Slotkin as captive to out-of-state interests.

“Coastal elites continue to work arm-in-arm with D.C. insider Elissa Slotkin to try and buy this congressional seat,” Bishop consultant Stu Sandler said, highlighting the amount of donations she accepted from California and New York.

“This effort of coastal elites to buy the 8th District does not sit well with voters.”

Slotkin campaign spokeswoman Laura Epstein criticized Bishop for taking donations from corporate PACs, which Slotkin has sworn off.

“Rep. Bishop only decided to run for Congress because he got a call from Washington insiders to do so,” Epstein said.

“To this day, he continues to do their bidding, supporting pharmaceutical companies and special interests instead of holding them accountable.”

Slotkin’s rival in the Democratic primary, Chris Smith of East Lansing, generated about $46,000.

Driskell, a former state lawmaker from Saline, brought in $100,000 more than Walberg, raising $408,200 to his $304,600. Walberg has more cash on hand with $1.15 million to Driskell’s $897,000.

“I think it’s a continuing pattern of success that female candidates are having in the 2018 election cycle,” said David Dulio, who chairs the political science department at Oakland University.

“We’ve seen it in fundraising. We’ve seen it in election results — the most recent being the primary in New York, where it continues to provide evidence that 2018 is going to potentially be the Year of the Woman 2.0.”

Dulio was referring to the 1992 election when voters elected more new women to Congress than ever before.

13th District

In the race to succeed resigned Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Detroit, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib continues to dominate the money race, generating more than $304,000 in the second quarter.

Tlaib was followed by Westland Mayor Bill Wild with nearly $253,000 in receipts and Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones with $128,000. Jones has been endorsed by the United Auto Workers union and the Michigan AFL-CIO.

Tlaib has more than double what Wild has on hand — $219,000 to Wild’s $100,000. Jones had $53,700 in the bank as of June 30.

State Sen. Ian Conyers of Detroit — the former congressman’s great nephew — raised $93,200, and state Sen. Coleman Young II of Detroit brought in $15,200, including $6,000 he loaned himself.

11th District

The Democratic primary in the 11th District, where GOP Rep. Dave Trott of Birmingham is retiring, candidates continue to report large figures.

Entrepreneur Suneel Gupta reported nearly $407,000 in receipts, although that included $150,000 that he loaned his campaign from a San Francisco address, according to his campaign finance report. Gupta has $799,500 in cash on hand.

Gupta’s home is in Birmingham but “through a clerical database update error, his address was reverted to an old address he no longer occupies,” Gupta spokesman Jamaine Dickens said.

An amended report has been filed with the Federal Election Commission, Dickens said.

State Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills hauled in $261,500 with $456,300 in cash reserves. Greimel has been endorsed by the UAW and Michigan AFL-CIO.

Haley Stevens, the former chief of staff for the auto bailout, raised nearly $166,200 in receipts and had more than $340,200 in the bank.

Former Detroit immigration director Fayrouz Saad brought in nearly $120,800 and reported $313,700 cash on hand.

In the 11th District Republican primary, state Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township won the money race last quarter, raising $166,440 but with just under $20,000 cash on hand.

Bloomfield Township businesswoman Lena Epstein still has the most in cash reserves, with over $658,300 in the bank. Epstein reported nearly $143,000 in receipts for the quarter.

State Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake Township, brought in nearly $114,300 and had $137,700 cash on hand as of June 30. Kristine Bonds, who was disqualified from the GOP primary, on Monday endorsed Kowall.

Former state Rep. Rocky Razckowski of Troy had nearly $24,000, including $10,000 he loaned to his campaign.

9th District

Former state Rep. Ellen Lipton of Huntington Woods maintained a cash edge over Andy Levin of Bloomfield Hills in the Democratic primary to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin of Royal Oak, who is Andy’s father.

Lipton reported $540,800 in receipts but loaned herself $289,800 of that amount. She had over $625,300 cash on hand as of June 30.

Levin brought in just over $353,000 and reported nearly $430,800 in cash reserves. His campaign said 65 percent his contributions last quarter were $200 or less, and he has been endorsed by the UAW and Michigan AFL-CIO.

“Our team is working really hard to reach voters and spread our message of strengthening education and passing Medicare for all,” Levin said in a statement.

Republican Candius Stearns of Sterling Heights, who will face the Democratic winner in the fall, raised nearly $81,000 and had about $72,750 in cash.

6th District

Longtime U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, raised $687,700 last quarter and has $1.6 million cash on hand.

In the Democratic primary, former Kellogg lobbyist George Franklin brought in nearly $166,000 and reported about $259,600 in the bank. Physician and public health expert Matt Longjohn raised nearly $149,000 and had $261,000 in cash reserves.

1st District

Freshman U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, this quarter raised more than his potential Democratic challenger, Matt Morgan.

Bergman brought in nearly $237,000 and reported about $480,500 in cash reserves.

Morgan raised $181,470 and reported $385,800 in the bank. He is pursuing a write-in campaign after losing a legal battle last month to have his name restored to the primary ballot.

mburke@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @nannburke
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By Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press

WASHINGTON — First it was Carl, and then it was Sandy: For 40 years, a Levin has represented Michigan in Congress. But if Andy Levin is going to keep that streak alive, he’ll have to work for it.

Running to succeed his dad, U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, who has represented southeastern Michigan since 1983 (Carl Levin, Sandy’s younger brother, joined the U.S. Senate in 1979 and stepped down in 2014), Andy Levin, 57, has attracted a Democratic opponent in former state Rep. Ellen Lipton of Huntington Woods who presents a viable challenge to the family line.

Across the country, women have been winning in several contested primaries, especially among Democrats, and Lipton — who, along with labor lawyer Martin Brook, is running for the Democratic nod in Michigan’s 9th Congressional District on Aug. 7 — presents a compelling narrative. She’s a mother who has multiple sclerosis who only entered politics to fight for stem cell research. She ended up becoming well-known in Lansing for taking on several battles, not the least of which were fights over education issues, including the Education Achievement Authority, the state’s now-defunct district for worst-performing schools.

But Levin, too, has his narrative, one that may align just as well with a progressive movement challenging traditional Democrats from the left: a history of activism, from union organizing and protest arrests to helping to create a social justice group — “Detroit Jews for Justice” — to go with his own time in government, mainly working in former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s labor department.

“I don’t want a single person to vote for me because of my name or my family,” said Levin, a self-described “hell-raiser” who has had his own health battles, twice fighting off non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and who is also a Bloomfield Township dad who still plays league hockey three times a week. “I want them to vote for me because of 35 years of working for social justice.”

No matter who wins, he or she will have a leg up heading into November’s general election against businesswoman Candius Stearns, a newcomer and the only Republican name on the ballot. Michigan’s 9th District, covering parts of Macomb and Oakland counties, was gerrymandered in 2011 in such a way as to force then-U.S. Rep. Gary Peters — now a U.S. senator — into Sandy Levin’s district, concentrating Democratic votes. Its outlines resemble one of Santa’s elves sitting in a recliner with his feet up; it backed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, 52%-44%.

As with many primaries, it’s difficult to chart bold policy distinctions between the major party candidates. In this case, there are general agreements, for instance, on the need for universal access to health care — “Medicare for all” is the current term — as well as the need to combat climate change, to better fund and support public education, cut college expenses and debt, guarantee social rights and fight for the working class by taking steps such as increasing the minimum wage.

The biggest differences are more questions of personal style, of background and experience, and of campaigning. When looking at those, the contrasts become more apparent.

Facing long odds
There can’t be much argument that, of the three, Brook is running a real outsider’s campaign: A 53-year-old Bloomfield Township labor and employment lawyer and father of two, Brook is attempting to do a lot with very little. In a race where the other two candidates as of the end of March — the most recent period for which campaign finance numbers were available — had each raised more than half a million dollars, he’d raised only about $24,000.

His campaign website, while polished, is largely bare, and he relies instead on social media. Other than his treasurer, he has no paid staff, no campaign manager. He attends parades, farmers’ markets, street fairs. He’s working full-time. And while he won’t rule out an Internet ad, which he can only hope will go viral, Brook acknowledges that TV is likely out of the question.

At best, he’s a long shot.

But for all of that, he’s upbeat, engaged. And he has run an insurgent campaign before, he said, serving from 2005-10 on the Bloomfield Hills School Board, the last three years as president. To win, he said, he took on a well-funded opposition — backed by political action committees — and “loud, angry voices” that seemed insistent on taking down public schools.

“I’m a big supporter of public schools,” Brook said. “I’m a product of public schools. This is the path to the middle class and it been unfairly maligned and attacked for far too long. … So, I stepped up and ran.”

While not taking swipes at his opponents, he says he best represents the outsider’s appeal — and understands that Democrats must learn how to define issues and label them rather than leaving that to Republicans, and then, “tackle the narrative.” “We need a new generation of leaders,” he said.

For Levin and Lipton, differences seem stark
As for the two other candidates, they seem to represent, in interviews at least, more contrasting approaches with different appeals, different styles. Levin can seem brash, assertive, even salty, while ticking off ideas, projects, experiences with gusto; Lipton is more methodical, appealing to logic and a scientific approach — she studied biochemistry before becoming a patent lawyer — as well as referencing a kind of accidental, civics-course advance into politics, saying, “It wasn’t something in (my) life plan, if you’d asked me years ago. … (I’m) just an ordinary person who got into politics.”

Without any public polling to speak of, Levin’s considered the favorite, on name recognition and on the strength of a long list of endorsements from Granholm to the major unions, including the UAW, the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). His father’s election-year experience in the district shouldn’t hurt and he’s expected to lend a hand.

But Lipton has already shown she’s not to be ignored, raising nearly as much money as him as of the end of March (and about $75,000 more from individual donations) and getting some key backing of her own, such as that from EMILY’s List, which supports women candidates.

For Lipton, a 51-year-old mother of two, the march into politics was presaged by her waking on her 27th birthday and finding she was partially blind in one eye. Over some months, it subsided, but she was diagnosed with MS, an incurable disease that attacks nerve cells but can often be controlled through medication. Through one such drug, Avonex, taken weekly, Lipton could control her symptoms.

But when the state enacted a ban on using embryonic stem cells for medical research, she joined the fight, helped to pass a statewide referendum enabling the research and found herself swept up in politics and running — successfully — for state representative, serving from 2008 through 2014, before being term-limited out of office.

“It found me,” she said. “Once I started doing it, I realized we really do need people who can take a fresh vision on some of these really difficult problems. … I’m not a bomb thrower. I’m just an ordinary person who found out that my skill set belongs at the table.”

That skill set, she said, involves activism but also a less-emotional, more-scientific approach to problem-solving.

Upon landing in Lansing, Lipton — who is a native of Philadelphia and (like Andy Levin) attended Williams College and Harvard before settling in metro Detroit — helped to bring together disparate groups to reach an agreement on a languishing package of bills to set a standard for the issue of competency in the juvenile justice system. But she also became a vociferous critic of the Education Achievement Authority, or EAA, which was intended to expand to take over failing schools beyond those in Detroit — an idea originally pushed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“It just made my blood boil,” Lipton said, as she learned about students without teachers or resources, all at a time when the Legislature was being asked to expand the EAA’s reach. She said she developed a “member-by-member” strategy to combat it, which worked. “Not only did the legislation (to expand EAA) not pass but it was dissolved. It basically collapsed of its own ineptitude.” It disbanded last year.

In 2014, as her last term was wrapping up, she continued to push for a study into just how much it costs for the state to educate a student, still looking for data that she believed could help rationalize arguments about how public schools should be funded; she was even mentioned as a possible lieutenant governor candidate for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer. Finally, she lost a tight race for the state Senate.

In more recent years, she has been president of the Michigan Promise Zones Association — which helps provide scholarships to students who live in certain areas and graduate from high schools there. She entered the race for Congress after Sandy Levin announced late last year he wouldn’t run for a 19th two-year term, raising, as of March 30, nearly as much — $501,000 to $511,000 — as Andy Levin, though she didn’t say anything against him specifically.

“In Washington, you’ve got a lot of people that are talking around each other, and talking past each other. …. It’s easy when emotions run high to do that but it’s not productive for solving problems. I’m a trained mediator and you learn as a mediator to do more listening than talking.”

Levin’s background more than family name
But if Lipton and Brook see themselves as outsiders, so, too, in a strange way, does Levin. Not, perhaps, in his background or experience — after all, his father was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and his uncle Carl the longest-serving U.S. senator in Michigan history. His great-uncle Ted —- a longtime federal judge — is the namesake of the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit.

Levin also has government experience, serving as Granholm’s chief workforce officer — running the state’s No Worker Left Behind program, which helped retrain more than 150,000 people in a nationally recognized program in the wake of the 2008-09 recession — and later as acting director of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.

But he’s quick to note perceived failings — specific failings — of his party. Of deregulation during President Jimmy Carter’s and President Bill Clinton’s terms. Of President Barack Obama, “for all his brilliance,” for not doing more to push legislation — with Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate — that would have made union organizing far simpler. For a Democratic Congress not coming up with a plan that, while bailing out banks, could have done a better job of keeping Michiganders in those homes during the Great Recession.

And as much as he suggests racism and xenophobia may have played a role in President Donald Trump’s election, he also suggests key support may have come from Michiganders who lost their jobs a decade or more ago and have been left behind, with Democrats doing too little to help them. “What have we done for them?” he asked.

“I want to create a new politics in this country where everyone who goes to work sticks together to rebuild the middle class,” he said, adding that, in the last election, it did not feel “like we were the working class champions.”

Sander Levin’s son to run for father’s House seat

Meanwhile, as to anyone who questions his progressive bona fides, he rattles off a list of his accomplishments, organizing hunger strikes against apartheid in college, organizing protests against the starting of the first Iraq war. He was arrested while trying to ensure college professors had the right to organize in various places decades ago, he said, and while protesting drilling in Alaska in Washington, D.C.

“I think I’m the insurgent candidate,” he said. “I’m as much a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King as my political heroes. … I don’t think I’m the establishment-anything.”

His lone political run came in 2006, when he lost a closely contested race to Republican John Pappageorge for a state Senate seat by less than 800 votes. But it turned out for the best, he said, leading him to join Granholm’s administration. And as quickly as Republicans will link him to what they have long called a failed tenure, he defends her as having done well considering the economic — and political — forces arrayed against her, with the auto companies in decline and the economy headed toward implosion.

As for him, Levin has been running Lean & Green Michigan, which helps municipalities set up special assessment districts through which businesses — which pay the assessments — can get long-term, low-cost loans to make energy-use improvements. And Levin’s quick to point out that a lot of the places where he has been successful in getting it up and running have been Republican-controlled and that he thinks there are plenty of areas, like job training, like trade, where he believes there’s room for both parties, in Washington, to work together.

Unlike Brook’s campaign, voters can expect plenty of advertising from Levin and Lipton in the weeks to come, heading into a primary that will likely decide the winner in November. But even though Levin looks to be the favorite, he says he’s taking nothing for granted.

“I think of it as about leadership. I think it’s fine to be in a safe seat in the state Legislature for a few terms or whatever,” he said. “But I have run programs that have consistently changed people’s lives.”

“I’m telling you, I’m nervous,” he added. “I really want to connect with the voters.”

Contact Todd Spangler: 703-854-8947 or tspangler@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tsspangler.

DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY IN THE 9TH DISTRICT
Date: Tuesday, Aug. 7

Candidates: Martin Brook, Andy Levin, Ellen Lipton

Background: All three have law degrees but come from vastly different backgrounds. Levin is the perceived front-runner, the son of retiring U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Royal Oak, and having racked up endorsements as well as having a long history working with unions and the former Granholm administration. But Lipton, a former state representative and patent attorney from Huntington Woods, has mounted a strong campaign, keeping up with Levin in terms of fundraising through March. Brook, a former Bloomfield Hills school board member, is a long shot, trying to score a win despite lacking funds and name recognition. Whoever wins the primary, however, will have a strong chance of victory in November in this predominantly Democratic district.
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By The Detroit News

9th District (parts of Oakland and Macomb counties): Longtime incumbent Democratic Rep. Sandy Levin is retiring. His son, Andy Levin, would like to succeed him. But congressional seats should be earned, not inherited, and Andy Levin’s record in the district is scanty, aside from appointed positions in the Granholm administration.

That can’t be said of Ellen Lipton, a former state representative who was an aggressive advocate for her constituents. She is now the president of the Michigan Promise Zone Association, which works to help students pay for college. Lipton, who has Multiple Scelerosis, was instrumental in winning passage of the ballot initiative enabling stem cell research in Michigan. As a lawmaker, she led the effort criminal justice reform effort that improved representation for indigent defendants. She also formed the Progressive Women’s Caucus in the House.The former patent attorney is a Harvard Law School grad. Her priorities are education and health care. She is the better choice. Martin Brock, an attorney and former Bloomfield Hills school board member, is also running in the Democratic primary. Republican Candius Stearns is unopposed.
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By Ellen Lipton, The Detroit News

When I was 27, I woke up one morning with no vision in my left eye. I went to the doctor, and I’ll never forget sitting on the examination table, anxiously awaiting my diagnosis. What he told me would change my life forever: “Ellen, you have MS.”

Multiple Sclerosis is a lifelong disease that attacks your central nervous system. For many, it can result in a wheelchair-bound life. I thought in that moment that my life might be over.

I was a newlywed beginning an exciting career as a patent attorney with a background in biochemistry. I was driven to have it all — driven to make partner, driven to have kids, driven to achieve the American dream of growing up in a middle class family and becoming successful.

Over time, I came to accept that the path I’d set out for myself would be altered forever. But because I had excellent health insurance, I could afford the expensive medications that gave me the opportunity to live a healthy life. I still made partner at 29, and I still had two beautiful children, while life with MS took on an entirely new meaning.

Gradually, I came to view my diagnosis not as a weakness, but a strength. I found that it gave me an extraordinary determination to live my life to the fullest. And it was my diagnosis with MS that eventually led me to an unexpected life in politics.

My medication was developed through stem-cell research—and yet, in the mid-2000s, stem-cell research was illegal in Michigan. When I learned that the research that changed my life was banned outright in my home state, I was outraged. I knew that an untold number of Michiganders were being denied the chance that I had for a healthier life because of a law that made no sense. So I made up my mind to change it.

Putting my practice on hold, I traveled around Michigan as a citizen activist for a ballot initiative to remove the state’s ban on stem-cell research. Through that experience, I learned the power of ordinary people coming together to make change for the better. That experience inspired me to run for office, and I went on to serve three terms as a state representative.

None of this would have been possible except for my health insurance. Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans were given the chance that I had, to live a healthy life with a pre-existing condition. And yet now President Trump wants to take that away.

This month, Trump’s Department of Justice has announced that it won’t defend ACA provisions that protect people with pre-existing conditions. This move is a moral outrage and a cruel and unnecessary punishment for people like me—people who need good health care to give them a chance for a healthy, productive life. It also means that insurers could charge older patients much higher premiums, both in the individual market and for small business employees. It threatens the insurance that we all access, whether employer-provided or through an exchange.

No one’s lot in life should be determined by whether they’re one of the lucky ones who can afford health care. If I am elected to Congress, I will support Medicare for All, because I believe every single American deserves health care as a right. It’s time to stop subjecting millions of Americans to the constant threat of losing their health care, and it’s time to stop putting profits over people. Universal health care can be a reality in this country. We simply need the courage to make it possible.

Ellen Lipton is a former three-term state representative and currently serves as the founder and president of the Michigan Promise Zone Association. She is running for Congress in the 9th District.
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By Sarah Rahal, The Detroit News

Cindy Garcia, whose husband Jorge was deported on Jan. 15, said instead of crying in her bed she wanted to share her pain with hundreds protesting the separation of families in Metro Detroit.

Jorge Garcia, 49, was deported to Mexico because he entered the country illegally when he was 10 years old, his wife said. Cindy Garcia, of Lincoln Park, said the separation has been traumatizing on her two children.

“I’ve been directly affected by this administration. I had to let my husband go and have to take my two children (ages 13 and 15) to see a psychiatrist,” said Garcia, 46, told a crowd of protesters on Saturday. “I can’t even imagine if they were locked up in cages, away from me thinking I abandoned them.”

Garcia was among the protesters who hit the streets in Metro Detroit and Michigan and across the U.S. for the #FamiliesBelongTogetherMarch Saturday to press President Donald Trump’s administration to reunite families quickly.

More than 700 planned marches drew hundreds of thousands of people across the country, from immigrant-friendly cities like New York and Los Angeles to conservative Appalachia and Indiana to the front lawn of a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, near a detention center where migrant children were being held in cages.

In Detroit, crowds gathered in sweltering 95-degree heat on Saturday at the Spirit of Detroit and Clark Park before marching.

Detroit police estimated more than 250 people gathered at the Spirit of Detroit and marched through downtown before returning to rally in Hart Plaza. Police said ambulances are on standby for those overcome by the heat at Clark Park, where more than 1,000 are expected.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, Fayrouz Saad, a Democrat candidate hoping to represent Michigan’s 11th District; and former state Rep. Ellen Lipton of Huntington Woods who is running for the 9th District congressional seat were among the speakers at the Spirit of Detroit rally.

“It’s (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and their practices that are a danger to American society,” Levin said. “The key message… we need to send a clear message to this administration to stop sending kids away from their parents, they’ve done nothing wrong. They came here undocumented, but they work and the families work, contribute and do nothing wrong.”

Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to show his support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid calls from some Democrats for major changes to immigration enforcement.

Tweeting from New Jersey, Trump said that Democrats “are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen.” He urged ICE agents to “not worry or lose your spirit.”

Detroit and 22 other Michigan cities — Adrian, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Big Rapids, Flint, Fort Gratiot, Grand Rapids, Hart, Holland, Houghton, Iron Mountain, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Ludington, Manistee, Marquette, Midland, Mt Pleasant, Muskegon, Petoskey, Pontiac, Saint Helen, Saint Joseph, Sault Ste Marie, Traverse City and Troy — were the site of rallies.

The rallies not only focused on the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, but protested against the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling uphoiding Trump’s travel ban from mostly Muslim countries.

“I’m the daughter of immigrants and my parents came 40 years ago for the American dream, the one that Trump is destroying,” said Saad, who called for impeachment of Trump. “This Supreme Court ruling is outrageous and we know now the courts are not going to save us any more. It’s who we vote in that will make the difference.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, started at an Ann Arbor rally before heading to Clark Park to fight for the “fundamental pillars and the heart and soul of America,” she said.

Many yelled to Dingell asking if she would stand by their mission to shutdown ICE. She replied, “We got to be careful, ICE isn’t keeping us safe because people see ICE and run the other way, but we can not let Donald Trump define our message.”

Imam Mika’il Stewart Saadiq lead chants with the crowd at Clark Park saying “Fight people fight, faith is on our side” and “Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s right.”

“All of our children will be the next legislators, educators and it’s very important that we are here and our children will remember that we we are a part of a righteous legacy fighting for equality for all,” said Saadiq. “You come for one of us and you come for all of us. U.S. immigration policy has become ethnic cleansing from detention centers to terrorizing those who seek asylum, to the travel ban… we won’t have it.”
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By Stephen Jones, The Chaledean News

The race to replace Congressman Sander Levin is in full swing in the 9th Congres­sional District. Levin announced his retire­ment from Congress in December after serving for 35 years. Candidates from all sides have their sights set on the open seat, including Levin’s son, Andy Levin. We asked all the candidates in the 9th Con­gressional District why they deserve the Chaldean community’s support in this race. The 9th District covers Berkley, Clawson, Center Line, Eastpointe, Ferndale, Fraser, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Madison Heights, Mt. Clemens, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Roseville, St. Clair Shores, Sterling Heights, Warren Bloomfield Charter Township, Clinton Charter Township, Royal Oak Charter Township, Southfield Charter Township, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, and Franklin.

We posed the following question to each candidate, why should the Chaldean community support you?”

Democrats

Andy Levin is the son of sitting U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin and the former head of the Michigan De­partment of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. Levin is the founder of a clean energy busi­ness and directed the No Worker Left Behind program, a worker training program that provided services to 162,000 Michigan residents.

“My family has always fought for the Chaldean community in Congress, and I promise to carry on that tradition,” Levin said. “We have to address the outrageous violations of Chaldean’s rights in Iraq, the attacks on Christian villages, the stripping of people’s rights. These are issues that have to be central to our policy in Iraq and around the world. I’ve worked on human rights my whole life, and those are issues that I will continue to work on.”

“Secondly, the Chaldean community and the Jew­ish community have always been really close. I think our traditions of immigrating to this country, creating a lot of our own small businesses, working our way up through hard work, and the importance of family contribute to the closeness of our communities. I’m a business owner, and I work with a lot of Chaldeans to retrofit their buildings in water efficiency, energy effi­ciency and renewable energy. I know what it feels like to run a small business and to pay all the taxes that you have to pay as a sole proprietor. I’m going to be there for them as a member of Congress to advance the economic and social interests of the Chaldean community right here in the 9th District.

Finally, the Chaldean community is an immigrant community, and I’ve worked on immigration policy for over 30 years ever since the Immigration Control and Reform Act was passed in 1986. Another tradi­tion of my dad’s office that I will continue is protect­ing immigrants and fighting for immigrant rights.”

Ellen Lipton served three terms representing the 27th Dis­trict in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2009 to 2014. Before her six years in the legislature, Lipton worked as a patent attorney specializing in medicine and technology. She is a founding member and president of the Michigan Promise Zone Association, a statewide organization providing ac­cess to post-secondary education and free college tuition for high school graduates.

“As a State Representative, I used my position on the Appropriations Committee to ensure adequate funding for programs that affect immigrant com­munities,” Lipton said. “I fought to increase dollars dedicated to ESL programs and helped expand state funding for community mental health services, which we had found were inadequate in servicing our mul­ticultural populations. In Congress, I look forward to working with the Chaldean Community on access to affordable housing, job placement and training programs, and educational opportunities for young people and adults looking to further their education. I believe Michigan thrives when our immigrant com­munities succeed. In Washington, I’ll ensure that my Constituent Services staff is engaged in working with the Chaldean community, and I will always be avail­able to my Chaldean constituents to work together to make our district a better place to live.”

Martin Brook is running this race in addition to his role as a full-time employment law attorney. He was a Trustee on the Bloom­field Hills School Board from 2005 through 2010. In 2009, he was selected by his colleagues to the position of President of the Board, where he led the school district through intense legal battles, a bond proposal, and the selection of a new superintendent.

“The Chaldean community is a wonderful immi­grant success story,” Brook said. “It’s a wonderful fam­ily story, community story and story of economic suc­cess. I’m a small businessman myself, so I respect small businesses. I’m a member of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. I speak for them around the state, pro­viding training and programs for employers to become better employers. I sit on their education, health and welfare committee, and help define their legislative priorities. I have a record of supporting small-business owners and trying to advance their interests.”

“Also, an important path to success in America is education. I value and respect education and its social/economic power. That is why I ran for and served on the Bloomfield Hills School Board – dur­ing that time, I interacted with many in the Chal­dean community and came to see our shared respect for the important role education plays in everyone’s success story. I also respect the story of immigration. It is America’s story. I’m appalled by the arrests and detention of immigrants pushed by the Trump admin­istration. The immigrant community is core to the success of the tri-county area, and everything we do should aim to enhance the immigrant experience.”

Republican

Candius Stearns is the lone candi­date in the Republican Party, and belongs to an immigrant family of Polish, German and, through marriage, Greek decent. Stearns most recently held the position of Treasurer in the 9th GOP district. In 2007, Candius Stearns founded DFB TPA Services LLC, a sister company to DFBenefits. In January 2016, Candius combined her group benefits practice with Mason- McBride Corporation (MMC), one of Michigan’s largest privately owned independent insurance and financial services organizations.

Stearns believes she shares a few core principles with the Chaldean community, including faith, family, community, and country.

“Our economic tools, our healthcare system and our education quality have lagged behind much of America’s progress for most people,” Stearns said. “It’s my commitment to address these top priorities with 21st century solutions and rethink how these resourc­es can better enhance the quality of life for our fellow citizens. Sterling Heights is experiencing an incred­ible positive impact from the Chaldean Community Foundation (CCF). Its retail and business community provide my hometown of Sterling Heights with the old-fashioned entrepreneur spirit that America was built on, as well as people who are not ashamed of working with their hands as I have done, growing up as a daughter of a dairy farmer. I welcome these new citizens who work towards the opportunity to share in the American Dream of prosperity for all. I support helping the community find work in skilled trades, as well as higher education which provides a hand up towards self-sufficient lives and much-needed workers in our community. I support an exciting new develop­ment plan, a $30 million multifamily housing project, to assist the neediest among the community.”

Green

John McDermott is running for the Green Party. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting, and he earned his J.D. from the University of Detroit-Mercy Law School. He believes he can be the change that people need to see in government, stating “the federal government needs a major overhaul and a re­turn to its constitutional origins and limitations.” “I knew many Chaldean merchants when I was a commercial realtor in Detroit and a Wayne County resident,” McDermott said. “The Chal­dean community’s success and prosperity in metro Detroit is an American success story.” The long-term fate of the district has been the subject of speculation recently. Michigan’s slow-moving population growth means the state could lose another congressional seat following the 2020 U.S. Census, and the 9th Congressional District might be a target for dissolution by 2022. The primaries for Michigan’s 9th Congressional District Race will be held August 7, and the gen­eral election will be held on November 6.

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By Melissa Nann Burke and Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News

The next three months promise campaign warfare in Metro Detroit as primary battles heat up for three open seats to replace retired or retiring members of Congress.

The most expensive U.S. House race in Michigan is taking shape in the 11th District, where Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Trott of Birmingham is retiring. The race has attracted more than a dozen candidates, with six Republicans, six Democrats and a Libertarian filing petitions to run by Tuesday’s deadline.

Together, the candidates already have spent nearly $2 million and raised more than $5 million through March 31, according to campaign finance reports. Michigan’s primary is more than three months away on Aug. 7.

Three Democrats have lined up for the primary contest to succeed Rep. Sander Levin of Royal Oak, who is retiring after 36 years in office. Levin’s son, Andy, and former state Rep. Ellen Lipton have emerged as early frontrunners after state Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren ended his campaign this week to pursue a Macomb County post.

In the 13th District, it’s looking like the Wild West with eight Democratic candidates filing petitions for candidacy, including Westland Mayor Bill Wild. They are vying to replace longtime Democratic Detroit U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., who resigned in December after nearly 53 years in Congress.

The slate includes John Conyers III, state Sens. Ian Conyers and Coleman Young II, Detroit Council President Brenda Jones and former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, who alone has raised more than all other 13th District candidates combined. If successful, Tlaib would be the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

Analysts have said the crush of candidates could split the African-American vote in Detroit, paving the way for a Wayne County suburbanite such as Wild to clinch the nomination.

But Tlaib’s activism and dominant fundraising inside and outside the district may pose a greater threat to veteran Detroit politicians, said Greg Bowens, a political and media consultant not involved in the race.

“She has a lot of crossover appeal that reaches far beyond the Arab community,” said Bowens, who grew up in Detroit and serves on the executive board of the neighboring 14th Congressional District Democratic Party.

“People like to vote for history. When it comes to the first woman, first African-American, first Muslim — people could be drawn to that. We’re used to electing African-Americans from that district, but we’re not used to seeing history being made in the form of Rashida Tlaib and what she represents.”

13th District

District Democratic Chairman Jonathan Kinloch had been trying to rally stakeholders around a consensus candidate to keep the ballot from growing too large but couldn’t discourage potential candidates from entering the race.

“There’s only so many resources available for individuals to be able to mount a real serious campaign,” Kinloch said, noting candidates for governor and other top races will also be tapping local donors. “They’re going to pull resources from the same pool.”

An African-American candidate could help Democrats motivate black voters so far frustrated by the early number of white candidates expected to top the ticket, he said, noting the results of the Democrats’ endorsement convention this month.

“An African-American nominee in the 13th District would definitely be a motivation and give black voters a voice,” Kinloch said.

The district covers parts of western Detroit and cities including Romulus, Melvindale, Highland Park and Redford Township.

Political observers also speculate that having two Conyerses on the ballot — the former congressman’s son and his great-nephew — could divide the name-identification vote, unless the cousins can differentiate themselves from one another.

Jones has experience running citywide races and the endorsement of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, but so far those haven’t translated into more volunteers, Bowens noted.

Other Democrats who filed in the 13th District include former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson and Kimberly Hill Knott, in addition to Republican David Dudenhoefer, the district’s GOP chair.

The special election to complete the remainder of Conyers’ term (November to Jan. 3) will coincide with the regularly scheduled 2018 primary and general elections.

That introduces the potential for ballot confusion and the possibility that different candidates win the special and regular primary elections.

Not everyone who filed Tuesday for the regular primary also filed for the special primary contest. Both Conyerses, as well as Jones, Wild, Tlaib, Mary Waters and Kentiel D. White filed for the special election.

“I would venture to say that very few voters realize that’s what’s going on, and that they’re going to have to vote in two places on the same ballot for the same office,” said Dave Dulio, chair of the political science department at Oakland University. “That could be confusing to people.”

11th District

Increasing diversity and relatively high education levels in the 11th District rank it among Michigan’s most likely to flip from a Republican-held seat to the Democrats this fall — at least “on paper,” said pollster and Democratic strategist Ed Sarpolus.

But the district — which includes Livonia, Canton Township, Troy and Novi — has a notorious independent streak.

“Let’s not forget this is the home of the Ross Perot voter,” Sarpolus said, referencing the 1992 independent presidential candidate. “This has always been there.”

In the Republican primary, former House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Raczkowski of Troy is well-known, but businesswoman Lena Epstein’s largely self-funded war chest is a “major factor,” Sarpolus said.

Former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Milford, the quirky former reindeer rancher who previously represented the district, could be a wild card.

“He is like Donald Trump. He has a base that doesn’t go to anybody else,” Sarpolus said.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall of White Lake outraised Epstein last quarter but trails her in cash on hand with $131,000 to Epstein’s $1 million. Kowall is endorsed by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and the Police Officers Association of Michigan.

“Having access to funds is what matters. Is Kowall going to be able to compete with Epstein on the airwaves, in the mail and online? That remains to be seen. Epstein is in a strong position,” Dulio said.

Others seeking the GOP nomination include state Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township and Kristine Bonds of West Bloomfield Township. Leonard Schwartz filed to run as a Libertarian.

Sarpolus argues that gender or race could play a role in the Democratic primary. The district, which includes southern Oakland and northwestern Wayne counties, has growing immigrant and ethnic populations, including Indians, Chaldeans, Lebanese and Japanese.

Entrepreneur Suneel Gupta and Fayrouz Saad, Detroit’s former director of immigration affairs, could compete, Sarpolus said, while Saad could draw female voters from digital manufacturing executive Haley Stevens.

Competitors have raised questions about Gupta and Stevens’ ties to the district since both moved back to Michigan to run for office after years spent living out of state. Gupta has raised more money from California donors than from inside Michigan.

“The other large ethnic group in that district is labor,” Sarpolus said, joking about traditional union strength among blue-collar workers in the district.

Several top labor groups are backing state Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills. Greimel, the former House minority leader, is the only Democrat in the field who has won an election.

Birmingham attorney Dan Haberman helped lead the statewide campaign to ban smoking in public spaces, which was signed into law in 2009. He has not previously run for office.

Former talk show host Nancy Skinner filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission this month. She ran in the 2014 Democratic primary in the 11th District, losing to Bobby McKenzie. She also lost a 2006 challenge to incumbent GOP Rep. Joe Knollenberg by 6 percentage points and said she is running to raise climate change as an issue.

9th District

In the 9th District, Lipton surprised many when she matched the fundraising of the son of the retiring congressman, bringing in $501,000 last quarter to Levin’s $386,000.

“I don’t think that (Andy Levin) is under-performing, but it speaks volumes about Ellen Lipton and how people are responding to her,” Dulio said.

“Levin has advantage with his name, but maybe Lipton can take advantage of the overall traction that female candidates are getting in 2018. We’re in for a really interesting couple of months.”

Levin and Lipton are both Harvard-trained attorneys. Levin, who lives in Bloomfield Township, is the former head of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth and has picked up union endorsements.

He created the No Worker Left Behind initiative to train unemployed residents for new jobs in the last recession. He later founded and runs his own company, Levin Energy Partners LLC.

Lipton of Huntington Woods worked as a patent lawyer specializing in medicine and technology before entering politics.

After her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, she decided to join the push to pass a ballot initiative allowing stem cell research in Michigan and to run for the Legislature. She is endorsed by Emily’s List, a national group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights.

The district includes portions of Oakland and southern Macomb counties, including Royal Oak, Ferndale, Warren and Sterling Heights.

Attorney Martin Brook is also seeking the Democratic nomination. The winner would face Republican Candius Stearns of Sterling Heights in the fall election.
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By Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press

WASHINGTON – The Year of the Woman? Politically speaking, it already is.

More women have already filed to run as major party candidates for Congress this year than any other year in history — 363 so far compared with the previous record of 334 set in 2012, says the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

In Michigan, of the 69 congressional candidates who have filed to run in the Aug. 7 primary, 20 are women — a number that might strike many as far too small considering there are about 190,000 more women in the state than men, but it’s more than twice the number of women who have run in primaries for federal office in any of the last 20 years.

And it’s not just that women are filing to run in record numbers, either. Consider:

In several races, female challengers have been out-raising their male counterparts, even some incumbents. Former Defense Department official Elissa Slotkin of Holly, who is running as a Democrat, has out-raised U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, in each of the last three quarters, raising overall $1.71 million to Bishop’s $1.56 million. Former Saline Mayor and state Rep. Gretchen Driskell also out-raised U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, in the first three months of the year by about $44,000 (though Walberg remained about $350,000 ahead in terms of cash on hand).

In several wide-open races for seats currently or most recently held by men, women are challenging that status. In the race for the Democratic nomination to replace former U.S. Rep John Conyers — which will likely determine the winner in the predominantly Democratic district — Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones has endorsements from Mayor Mike Duggan and key establishment support, while former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib — who is known for her grass-roots strength — easily leads the crowded field in terms of fund-raising. Meanwhile, in the 9th District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Royal Oak, former state Rep. Ellen Lipton of Huntington Woods, in the first three months of the year raised more, with $501,000, than Democratic opponents Andy Levin (about $386,000) and Martin Brook ($16,000) in another race where the party primary may well determine the eventual winner.

While gains are being seen by Democratic candidates in what some see as a possible wave election, Republicans are making noise as well, including businesswoman Lena Epstein, who helped run President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in Michigan and is running for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham. She has poured nearly $1 million of her money into the crowded nomination race (and posted a picture of herself on Facebook standing in the bed of a pickup, pregnant, holding an American flag.) In the 9th District seat, Candius Stearns, a benefits consultant/agent and Macomb County GOP official, is the only Republican running — meaning that if Lipton were to win the Democrat nod, the district would almost certainly be represented by a woman come January of next year.

“I can just tell you that the tenor and tone I’m hearing in the district is that people are very excited about seeing a fresh face in the political sphere,” said Epstein, who co-owns Southfield-based Vesco Oil Corp., an automotive and industrial oil and lubricants company, and says she knows about working in a world dominated by men. “This is the year of the female candidate — especially the first-time female candidate.”

Of course, filing for office doesn’t necessarily meaning winning a primary or a general election. But David Dulio, chairman of Oakland University’s political science department, said research shows that when women decide to get into political races, “they do just as well as men.”

Which means 2018 could represent a sea change.

“Women have an ability to be be compassionate and empathetic and apply it to their policy making,” said Haley Stevens, a Rochester Hills native who was chief of staff to former President Barack Obama’s auto task force and is running as a Democrat to replace Trott in what many consider a toss-up race. “It’s time to start getting things done. If you have a qualified woman on the ballot, you can know when you elect her, she will get things done.”

In terms of background, too, the women running this year in Michigan — including those who are businesspeople, current or former government officials and/or legislators — represent a greater scope of experience and acumen than those in many other years.

Jones said while every woman has her own story as to why she’s in the race and what brought her there, “It’s a really good year for women to be running … it’s the time.”

Beyond more quantifiable measures, there is also anecdotal evidence, not just in Michigan but across the U.S., that 2018 could be a landmark year for women. Volunteerism by women is said to be markedly up, including on campaigns like Slotkin’s, who says there have been instances where women “literally walk into the office and say, ‘My husband doesn’t know I’m here … and I’m fed up with what I see in Washington.’”

Female candidates — like Dana Nessel, who won the Democratic endorsement for Michigan attorney general recently despite organized labor favoring her male opponent — are making gains. A record number of women — 40 — are also running for governor across the nation.

In some cases, candidates are presenting their womanhood front and center: Ads for female gubernatorial candidates in Maryland and Wisconsin have shown them breastfeeding babies. Others, like retired Marine pilot Amy McGrath, who is running for Congress in Kentucky, have taken a less gender-based approach, with an ad showing her walking down a runway with jets lined up behind her, predicting that Democrats can “win that battle” for the seat.

Nessel, meanwhile, made a name for herself last year amid the #Metoo movement’s targeting of alleged sexual harassment — an effort that resulted in Conyers losing his job as well as Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., newscaster Charlie Rose and others and has helped fuel the record level of engagement by women in this year’s midterm elections. In an ad, Nessel asked, “Who can you trust most not to show you their penis in a professional setting? Is it the candidate who doesn’t have a penis? I’d say so.”

The video went viral.

On a snowy Monday night in Bloomfield Hills recently, more than 130 people — practically all women — bundled up to attend a meeting of Moms Demand Action, a group committed to gun reforms that has, in the wake of the February shootings in Parkland, Fla., seen membership explode. And while they weren’t there to talk politics specifically, quite a few came believing — as individuals — it is time not just to organize but to put more women into office.

“I don’t think it should be remarkable when as many women run for office as men do,” said Beth Wallis, a 43-year-old librarian and faculty member at Oakland University. “We live in a time when the person who has been elected president of this country has shown so much disregard for so many people, including women. I think people have had enough.”

But while anger at Trump and earlier comments by him about grabbing women without their permission — as well as the unexpected loss of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on Election Night almost two years ago — may have played a large role in ginning up women’s interest and ire, many experts believe the enthusiasm has gone beyond that. Women, they say, many of whom may not have seen a viable path or reason to run before, are seeing it now with Congress often gridlocked and riven by partisan — or intra-party — divides on issues such as health care, social and environmental justice, education and reproductive rights.

“You’re seeing a difference this time around. We’re not waiting for someone to ask us to do it,” said Tlaib, who said she has spoken to other candidates, including Lipton, about the hurdles a female candidate has to face to run. “There’s a different level of urgency.”

Lipton, a biochemist and patent attorney, said it has been her experience that female lawmakers, regardless of party, are more open to discussion and collaboration as well as outside voices. “There have always been women candidates, of course, but there’s a growing awareness that we need to elect more women,” she said. “The questions that women will ask would be different than the questions a male candidate will ask.”

Will the gender gap be overcome?
At present, Michigan’s 16-member congressional delegation includes three women, all Democrats: U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, as well as U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn and Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, and has never had more than four (in 2015-17) at one time.

It’s possible this year’s election, then, could set a record.

But groups that research women’s role in politics, or work with female candidates or those who want to become candidates, caution against expectations that, even in what could be a watershed year for women, the gender gap will be overcome. While #Metoo and the Trump election helped fuel engagement, they say, whatever happens in this year’s elections, women will still be underrepresented in the 535-member Congress.

“We’re optimistic about the gains that will be made this year. We also know there is a lot of work to do after November to close the gap on underrepresentation,” said Erin Loos Cutraro, founder and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based She Should Run, a nonpartisan organization that works to increase the number of women running — or even thinking of running — for local, state and federal offices nationwide.

There is no question, she said, about the level of enthusiasm. Where the group might have talked to 100-150 women a month nationwide before the 2016 election, she said it has had contact with a staggering 21,000 in total since then. But the fact remains that with three-quarters of the women who have filed being Democrats — and many running in competitive elections or taking on incumbents — representation in Congress in 2019 still won’t equal men’s.

Cutraro noted, however, that the level of engagement means more women than ever are thinking about and laying the groundwork for running — which is what her organization works on — and that is the key first step, since women are traditionally “not encouraged and recruited at the same rate as men.”

At the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, assistant professor Kelly Dittmar says it’s also important to note that women make up less than a quarter of all the candidates running in this year’s elections and that, overall, “there’s just more candidates at the U.S. House level.” Meanwhile, a wave of retirements and other events has led to the impending departure of several congresswomen — even as the recent special election in Arizona of Republican Debbie Lesko means a record level of representation for women — 107 members, or 20% — in the current Congress.

Diversity of viewpoints
But does electing women make a difference? Some researchers say that female legislators can be more consensus-building then men, but there are also competing studies that suggest Republican women may be more likely to seek out bipartisan support than their Democratic counterparts.

Some experts suggest that could be true because women, as a whole, are more likely to represent leftward leaning blocs of their parties, meaning more moderate Republicans might be more ideologically apt to work with centrist Democrats than progressive Democrats would be able to work with Republicans of any kind.

Other researchers’ work has also suggested that women in any minority party in Congress may be more effective than those in the majority party — perhaps because of the need for help in getting legislation passed. Other work, including Dittmar’s, suggest women are “more results-oriented, more likely to emphasize achievement over ego and more concerned with achieving policy outcomes rather than receiving publicity or credit.”

But regardless of measurements of collaboration and efficiency, there is no question that women help to change the institution: In the 1970s and ‘80s, women successfully integrated the congressional pool and gymnasiums, which were men-only, or segregated facilities, before that. Recently, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and the mother of a newborn, helped force a change to long-standing rules against babies being allowed onto the Senate floor.

“It’s amazing and it’s about time,” Duckworth said after taking her first vote on April 19 with her 10-day-old daughter snug beside her.

Ultimately, diversity of viewpoint — from women of all manner of economic circumstances, educational attainment, ethnic or racial heritages and political persuasions — may be most important, say experts. That, and letting children, girls and boys alike, know that a woman’s place, whatever she looks like or what her name sounds like, may be in the House, or the Senate, or the White House.

One example of that kind of diversity: As noted in a recent New Yorker article on female candidates, Fayrouz Saad, a former director of immigrant and international affairs in Detroit who is running as a Democrat in the crowded race to replace Trott, joked in an early ad that while her name means “precious stone” when translated from Arabic into English, it also means “at least 17 different spellings on my Starbucks cup.”

Meanwhile, it’s not lost on the women who are running that, as much as they are running for anything else, it’s to show that they are to be taken seriously, an example of which was delivered recently by one of the few top female members of Trump’s team — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

When Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow suggested that Haley may have been confused when she said the administration was considering new sanctions on Russia, Haley fired back, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow later apologized for making the remark.

“I think women are saying, in very large numbers that, if we as women are engaged in the future of our communities — and women always have been, right? — then we have to take the next step and run for office and support women who are running for office,” said Lipton.

“We have to be instruments of change.”

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