The battle for a coveted congressional seat in the 13th District has begun in earnest with the surprise announcement by State Sen. Hansen Clarke Monday that he would, in fact, challenge incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick after toying around with the notion for a while.
Aside from Clarke, no other person despite the much speculation around town and polls conducted to gauge the weight of congressional incumbents, has thrown their hat into the ring.
This race among all other races around the state in this election season promises to be not only an interesting battle for Congress, but good political theater.
It will certainly attract national attention because Kilpatrick is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus that was in the news recently for sleeping with strange bedfellows and doing little to help the masses of Blacks across the nation. She is also the only Michigan congressional delegation member who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
Besides the fact that the 13th District race will be closely monitored for the huge implications it has for congressional representation in Detroit and the Downriver communities, it will also be a referendum for critics of the administration of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Even though the name Kilpatrick, in part, is a reminder of an administration that squandered greatness for political kleptocracy — we now see lieutenants of Kilpatrick pleading guilty in federal court to corruption and bribery and getting ready to head to jail — this race should be about the record of the candidates running.
I understand how easy it is to level political guilt by association charges in an emotionally driven climate where it is less difficult to sway public opinion against candidates who in the past have supported political figures that have now become a liability.
Though Kilpatrick on record has not filed yet for reelection, it is apparent from a recent television commercial shown in documentary format that has aired so far on WADL TV 38 – Detroit that she will be running.
Anyone who has seen the commercial will notice that several mayors of the Downriver communities are defending her congressional record as opposed to the notion that those communities may not play to her gallery.
But the endorsement of the mayors may not be a guarantee because voters should matter more than political figureheads or institutions. A recent political lesson to remember here is Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a celebrated civil rights leader, who was forced to support President Obama’s candidacy and abandon his strong Clinton loyalty because his district went to the Obama column. Lewis, who could no longer straddle on the fence of indecisiveness, came out to endorse Obama, almost weeping, saying he wanted to be part of history after his district sent a strong message to him by overwhelmingly supporting Obama against Hillary Clinton.
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow is also shown in the Congresswoman Kilpatrick video explaining the crucial role she plays on the House Appropriations Committee. A family is shown in the presentation discussing how Kilpatrick’s office helped them connect with a family member who was at war. A carefully crafted video presentation, Kilpatrick is certainly gearing up for the battle this fall, perhaps more than she did two years ago when it was a three-way race including State Sen. Martha Scott and former State Rep. Mary Waters.
Evidently Congresswoman Kilpatrick has been on the campaign trail in the past with her son, former Kwame Kilpatrick ,urging voters to support the mayor.
And when the text message scandal jury came out not in favor of Mayor Kilpatrick, she joined the mayor indicating that the city will appeal the verdict no matter the cost.
In hindsight, that was not the kind of political move you make on an administration that was on the road to self-destruction and, shockingly, took a lot of people down with them. Congresswoman Kilpatrick is a veteran lawmaker who has been in Congress since 1996. She should be held accountable for what she’s done in Congress so far.
Though her endorsements of some decisions of the former Mayor Kilpatrick’s administration is a legitimate campaign issue on the judgement of the candidates, you cannot divorce a mother’s love for the child she bore. Even when demonstration of that motherly love reveals wrongly supporting positions, such as appealing a jury verdict at the center of an explosive issue (a text message stroy that had so many legs) that would cost the city more money, it is still sticky to decide between a mother and her child.
Kilpatrick’s feet should be held to the fire based on what she has done for her district and Michigan, not because she is the mother of a former mayor, whose name and legacy are now stained because of self-inflicted problems that are causing many people to run away from him.