Congressional primaries: Tlaib has early lead against Jones, Hoadley could face upset

Rashida Tlaib
U.S. Rashida Tlaib at the Detroit NAACP dinner | Andrew Roth

In one of the most-watched U.S. House Democratic primaries in Michigan and beyond, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) leads two-time rival Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones 66.3% to 33.7% in a bid to retain her seat in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.

However, less than 1% of precincts are reporting in the heavily Democratic Detroit-anchored district.

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones at the NAACP dinner | Andrew Roth

In 2018, Jones won the special election to replace U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) for the rest of his term that year. But Tlaib won the election for the full 2019-20 term. She has become one of the most visible freshman members of Congress and is a member of the “Squad,” a group of four progressive women of color.

“You all know we’re still awaiting the results, but I’m confident. I’m confident in what we were able to do, which is really connect to people in a human way,” Tlaib said in a live streamed statement Tuesday evening while results rolled in. “… I look forward to continue the work we started.”

With plenty of votes left to be counted in a pandemic election in which 1.6 million absentee ballots were cast, a number of congressional, state and local primary races remain too close to call as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. 

Here’s a look at some of the most competitive congressional primaries on the ballot.

3rd Congressional District

Veteran Peter Meijer, heir to the Meijer chain fortune, was quick to take a big lead over four other Republican candidates vying for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District on the west side of the state.

Peter Meijer in Grand Rapids | Nick Manes

Meijer is at 49.8%, eclipsing state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Twp.), who had 24.9% with 69% reporting. Thomas Norton had 17.7%, Joe Farrington had 4% and Emily Rafi had 3.7%.

They are running to replace U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (L-Grand Rapids) in the GOP-leaning district. Amash had considered, then decided against a third-party presidential bid this year before announcing that he would not be running for reelection in Congress.

Afendoulis had left her seat in Michigan’s 73rd House District to run for the spot, leaving behind a heavily contested GOP primary race to replace her.

Democrat Hillary Scholten ran unopposed in the primary.

6th Congressional District

The dean of Michigan’s delegation, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), has been targeted by Democrats. He coasted to victory over Elena Oelke, 60.3% to 39.7%

Rep. Jon Hoadley at the State of the State address, Jan. 29, 2020 | Andrew Roth

The smart money was that he would face state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo), who is one of four openly LGBTQ members of the Legislature. However, with 76% of precincts reporting, Hoadley trails Jen Richardson 47% to 53%.

8th Congressional District

Four Republicans running on Trump-esque platforms were locked in a tight congressional race to represent Michigan’s Livingston, Ingham and Oakland counties. The winner will face off against freshman incumbent U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) in November.

Former TV anchor Paul Junge, who also previously worked as a President Trump administration immigration official, held a narrow lead with 33%, ahead of real estate manager Mike Detmer, who had 30%.

East Lansing attorney Kristina Lyke clung to third place with 24.9%, while former U.S. Marine Alan Hoover had 11.6%, with 40% of precincts reporting.

10th Congressional District

In Michigan’s “Thumb” region, three Republicans fought for the heavily GOP seat currently held by retiring U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden Twp.). Mitchell had announced last summer that he would not be seeking reelection due to his frustration with partisan politics.

Rep. Shane Hernandez at the Fiscal Year 2020 budget presentation | Casey Hull

Lisa McClain clung onto a lead of about 40.8% with 30% of precincts reporting. State Rep. Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) was close behind with 38.4%, while Doug Slocum trailed behind with 20.9%.

Kimberly Bizon and Kelly Noland fought a much closer primary race on the Democratic end, with Bizon earning about 53.4% of the vote and Noland taking 46.6%.

11th Congressional District

The 11th Congressional District in Wayne and Oakland counties saw a close five-way Republican primary race Tuesday. The winner will face off with freshman U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) in November. 

Royal Oak litigation attorney Eric Esshaki had a slight lead over the pack with 30% of the vote, with 30% of precincts reporting. Carmelita Greco had 24.6% and former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Milford) had 22.3%. Frank Acosta was at 12% and Whittney Williams had 11%.

12th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell | Andrew Roth

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), who has represented the 12th Congressional District since 2015, looks to have easily defeated young progressive challenger Solomon Rajput in the seat encompassing Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Downriver.

WXYZ-TV called the race for Dingell shortly after 10 p.m.

With 35% of precincts reporting, Dingell leads Rajput 75.2% to 24.8%.

Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, immigration and criminal justice. She is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or listening to podcasts, she loves art and design, discovering new music, being out in nature and spending time with her two cats Rainn and Remy.
C.J. Moore
C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.