Hansen Clarke says he has “no regrets” about his primary campaign. But he has some “grave concerns” after Election Day. Read more:
Congressman Hansen Clarke (D-13) may have lost the battle to represent the new 14th congressional district to colleague-turn-rival Congressman Gary Peters (D-9), but there’s one thing he want make clear: He hasn’t given up hope.
While Clarke has not publically announced his career plans after his term is up in January, he says he’s not worried about finding a new job next year.
“I have several options available to me,” Clarke told the Michigan Chronicle in an interview regarding his future plans. “That’s why I can continue to devote my time to working on getting more grant dollars to bring jobs back to the region.”
With his congressional seat taken, will Clarke run for Mayor of Detroit again? “People ask me about that all the time, I mean, constantly,” Clarke said. “I get that question so often, sometimes I wonder if my opponent put out that rumor to discourage people from voting for me for Congress.”
As of now Clarke says he has “no thoughts” about a mayoral run, and that his current focus is on moving his legislation through the House.
Moving forward after a slim margin defeat, Clarke says he wouldn’t change a thing about his campaign efforts.
“I have no regrets about putting services over politics,” Clarke said, noting that his job as a representative at times superseded his campaign agenda. “I worked to stop evictions up to the last day to the campaign,” he said. But there is something that has Clark concerned: after the primary election, a number of voters called Clarke’s campaign hotline with a peculiar complaint: that the congressman’s name was not on the ballot.
“There were reports of some election irregularities in Oakland County,” Clarke said. “That causes me grave concerns.”
Clarke said he heard from more than one source that his name was not on ballots issued in his constituency. He said his campaign team believed these concerns to be legitimate.
“We sensed that there was something odd going on, but it was only when we heard about these possible irregularities that we grew concerned,” Clarke said.
Trellis Mercer, a Clarke for Congress volunteer said he spoke to two people making these claims of ballot defects.
“I was working on the campaign hotline and I got a couple calls on Election Day,” Mercer told The Chronicle. “They said that they went to vote for [Clarke] but his name wasn’t on the ballot.” Mercer said his colleagues working the hotline that day reported other callers with the same complaint. “It was about four calls altogether,” Mercer said.
Despite his concerns, Clarke says he will not launch an investigation into the reports.
“I’ve moved on now,” Clarke said. “I but I want to make sure that all candidates have a fair chance.”
While Clarke’s supporters anxiously await his announcement of future plans, the Congressman has a busy schedule ahead of him.
He is working up support for his recently proposed bill that would make it easier for ex-offenders to find employment. The bill, HR6220 or, Ban The Box legislation, would make employers wait until they offered an applicant a job before they could run a criminal background check on that applicant (with some exceptions).
“We’ve had several states adopt this sort of legislation. Now it’s important to us to have this be national policy,” Clarke said. “A lot of times a person won’t have a chance to be interviewed because of a background check.”
Ban the Box legislation has passed in four states including Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Connecticut and Hawaii. This law is also in place in the cities of New York City and Philadelphia.But whatever the future holds for Clarke, he says he will not stop his mission to inspire.
“I want to provide people with the hope that they can make a difference,” he said.
Clarke may or may not run for mayor of Detroit, but if he follows his own advice, he’ll run for something. “I remember how bad things looked for me when I was 23. There were opportunities for me but I don’t see them because I lost hope,” he said. “Don’t give up.”