Manoogian flipped a state House seat in 2018. Now she’s addressing the DNC.

Rep. Mari Manoogian | House Democrats photo

State Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) will deliver the biggest public address of her political career on Tuesday. She is one of 17 “rising stars” who give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), which enters its second day.  

“I’m excited to put Michigan front and center in this address, especially during the keynote address given some of the big challenges that our country faces. It’s just an honor and privilege to center that conversation here in Birmingham,” said Manoogian, who will deliver her remarks remotely from Michigan.

The 27-year-old freshman lawmaker, who serves as an assistant minority whip for the House Democrats, said she aims to give a message to help inspire voters to elect Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee. The keynote address will kick off the DNC’s primetime programming at 9 p.m.

Manoogian represents the changing face of suburban Oakland County, which was a GOP stronghold for decades. In 2008, she said a Barack Obama lawn sign was stolen from her Armenian-American family’s home. She went on to flip the open 40th House District seat a decade later in 2018, winning with 56% of the vote. Her district includes largely white and affluent Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township and a portion of West Bloomfield Township. 

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Democratic presidential candidates have won Oakland County in four straight elections. In 2004, U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), beat then-President George W. Bush by less than 1 percentage point. Four years later Obama carried Oakland County by 15 points over John McCain, the late GOP U.S. senator from Arizona. Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney, an Oakland County native, by 8 points there in 2012. And although now-President Donald Trump won Michigan in 2016, he lost Oakland County to Hillary Clinton by 8 points.

“Folks who have traditionally voted Republican no longer identify with the current version of the Republican Party,” Manoogian said about her community. 

Her parents, now retired, were working people. Her mother, Sandy, was a vocational rehabilitation counselor. Her father, George, was a Utility Workers Union of America labor leader.

“My story as an Armenian American and our story coming to this country is very much a quintessential American story,” Manoogian said. 

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Upon learning about her role in the DNC convention, she tweeted on Sunday:

“I am honored to deliver this year’s @TheDemocrats @DemConvention keynote alongside 16 inspiring leaders. Together, we represent a new generation of Democratic leadership proving the importance that @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris place on building a strong, vibrant & inclusive team.”

Several speakers from Michigan are slated for the DNC, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who spoke Monday night, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who is scheduled for Thursday night.

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.