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Brenda Lawrence picks up backing of EMILY's List

by: Eric B.

Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 15:10:53 PM EST

Brenda Lawrence* picks up a big endorsement in the 14th.

The deep-pocketed EMILY's List is endorsing a trio of candidates running in open-seat House races: Attorney Aimee Belgard (D) in New Jersey, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence (D) in Michigan, and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice (D) in New York.

I'm not normally one to make a big deal out of endorsements, but in a crowded, tight Democratic primary this could actually mean the kind of money and support that translates into votes.

*--You've probably noticed by now that this month this website is being sponsored by Brenda Lawrence, who is one of many Democrats running for the 14th Congressional District. I traditionally do a sponsorship post or two during the sponsorship, but this week am getting caught up on some other stuff and haven't had the time (I'm doing an online chemistry course and got behind because of some Internet connectivity issues). Anyway, this post is not a sponsorship post, and in fact didn't even get tipped off to it by the campaign, which sometimes happens (if I feel it's of genuine interest to y'all, I'll use it ... if not, I won't). And while I usually skip doing the endorsements of the day, this is a pretty significant one.

Eric B. :: Brenda Lawrence picks up backing of EMILY's List
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Big News.
It will be interesting to see how this impacts the candidate fundraising in this and future quarters.

On a related note, I do find it disappointing that of Michigan's 14 congressional districts there are no Democratic women serving in Congress; obviously Republican redistricting is a major culprit behind this, but it still is a bummer.  Only 1 of the 14 is currently held by a woman: Republican Candice Miller.  

At the highest point in recent decades, there were three Democratic women holding a Michigan congressional seat at the same time.

If I recall correctly, EMILY's List has already endorsed Pam Byrnes in District 7 this election cycle.

Interestingly, on the Oakland County front, there has never been a woman or African-American from our county that has served in Congress.  Debbie Stabenow once represented two townships in the northwestern corner (Holly and Rose) for two terms, but obviously hailed from the Lansing herself.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

Martha Griffiths?
I am not quite sure about this, but recall that Northwest Detroit resident Martha Griffiths represented part of Southern Oakland County in her final term.

In the late '70's, then living in Farmington Hills, I served on the 17th District Executive Committee (Chair was the late Marie Weigold). While the district was represented by Bill Brodhead after Martha retired in 1974, I think she may have been another non-Oakland County woman who represented a part of Oakland County in DC albeit for only one term.

Overall, Michigan has a quite pitiful record in sending women to Congress. Throughout our history, the voters have sent but seven women, five Dems and two R's. For some comparison, Maryland (eight), Missouri (nine) and Washington (10), all smaller states with a great history.

[ Parent ]
I wish I were older to have known Griffiths.  My great-uncle Louis McGuinness (my father's namesake, and my middle name) was a Congressional District Chair back sixty-plus years ago in the Staebler and Griffiths years.  I recall hearing it was a district John Dingell held at the time.  

Louis McGuinness was a Democratic nominee for State Board of Education back in the day; the McGuinness family was filled with public school teachers in Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan and we've got a copy of a news article with Governor G. Mennen Williams presenting the family with a trophy for teaching at the Michigan State Fair.

I am old enough, however, to have known Marie Weigold.  May she rest in peace.

Thank you for the information that Griffiths preceded Brodhead in that seat, I hadn't realized that.  So! We've had Griffiths from Detroit represent a slice of Oakland many moons ago and we've had Stabenow from Lansing represent a smidge of Oakland not as many moons ago.  

There has yet to be a woman or African-American from Oakland County to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
A lot of this
A lot of this has to do with where the political center of the Democratic Party has been in Michigan.  It's been in labor, and not just labor, but manufacturing in heavily male-dominated industries, so there were simply fewer women from which to draw.  

Of course, with unionization shifting heavily towards service industries, we've seen some changes, and the UAW has for a few decades, now, been building up women in their organization for leadership roles.  But, it's taken longer than anyone would have liked.  And, like you made a point of, redistricting has played no small part in this.  

[ Parent ]
I'm trying to remember
who some viable female congressional challengers were from the past.

From Republicans, Suzy Heinz ran against Bonior in the 1990s, with Candice Miller running against him well before that.  Leslie Touma ran against Sander Levin in 1998.  Alice Gilbert ran against Knollenberg in the open primary in 1992.  Susan Grimes Munsell was the 1998 nominee against Stabenow.

From Democrats, Nancy Skinner ran against Knollenberg in 2006.  Natalie Mosher ran against McCotter in 2010. Martha Scott and Mary Waters were against Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in 2008, with Waters and Kilpatrick losing in 2010.  Dianne Byrum was nearly a congresswoman, losing a squeaker against Rogers in 2000.  Lynn Rivers lost her primary with Dingell in 2002.  Sharon Renier almost got elected against Tim Walberg in 2006.  Imagine it!

Who else?

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
I glad
I'm glad you brought up Dianne Byrum.  She would have made an awesome congresswoman.  In fact, it's always been my wish that she'd run against Mike, again.  Of course, it'd be harder to unseat him than win an open seat, but she'd easily be the our best chance of every making this seat competitive again.  Alas, she has a comfy jobs, now, and it would take a lot to get her to run for anything, again.  I guess Barb could eventually run against him, but I'm not sure she has the same talents as her mother to be honest.

[ Parent ]
That reminds me!
Of another Republican power ploy to add to my list on another comment thread: The Mike Rogers election law change on voter registration aimed squarely at Michigan State and East Lansing.  God, these guys are so brazen.  

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Prominent Female Dems Losing Primaries
I can think of two campaigns where prominent Democratic women lost their primary bids.

In 1970, three Dems fought it out for a chance to face invariable defeat in November at the hands of 18th District Republican Congressman Bill Broomfield.

The second place finisher was an anti-war activist from Huntington Woods who had not previously run for office. Annetta Miller took on a party titan, AFL-CIO president Gus Scholle, and made a strong grass roots run, falling to Scholle by just under 1700 votes. Scholle went on to lose to Broomfield by over 50,000 votes garnering just 35 percent of the vote. He died within a couple of years, while Annetta went on to serve 24 years on the State Board of Education, followed by an additional 16 years on the Wayne State Board of Governors.

In 1982, redistricting and the retirement of Congressman Bill Brodhead created an open seat that garnered a crowd of prominent Democrats.

Among the candidates were two women, one in the midst of a distinguished political career that was to continue for years to come, and another who make later to waves all the way to Rome.

Along with the winner of this contest, Sander Levin, in his initial congressional run, and second place finisher State Senator Doug Ross, were two women - Detroit Common Council Member Maryann Mahaffey and  Sister Agnes Mary Mansour, president of Mercy College. The two women finished with 14 percent and six percent of the vote, respectively, while the winner, Levin, polled 44% of the vote in this six candidate race.

While Mahaffey would likely be familiar to most on this blog, at the time of this race she was nine years into her 32 year career on Council. On the other hand, Mansour was little-known outside of educational and liberal Catholic circles. Her post-election career, in which she was named to run the Michigan Department of Social Services, brought her national fame and resulted in a mandate from the Church that she give up her job or renounce her vows due to the DSS disbursing Medicaid funds to hospitals that performed abortions. She chose the latter, though her Sisters of Mercy never accepted the renouncing of her vows and considered he a nun to her death.

[ Parent ]
In a field of quite a few candidates (three of them women), this speaks well of Mayor Lawrence.

Not Lawrence-specific, but I must say that race has one of the deepest Democratic benches I've seen in Michigan in a long time. Part of me wants whoever wins this time to run for something in 2018 (Senate if Stabenow retires?) or shortly thereafter.

As for this year, Mark Schauer would do well to consider one of the non-winning candidates for Lieutenant Governor.

Now on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott: Cotter vs. Jesus and Reagan

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