In what may be one of the biggest upsets in the primary elections, State Senator Hansen Clarke defeated Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the mother of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, for her bid in Michigan’s 13th district.
In his acceptance speech, Clarke said that this election is a lot bigger than he and the incumbent.
“Our political system is viewed as arrogant and self-serving,” Clarke said.
He said his victory is to all the citizens and taxpayers who are in desperate need now, but don’t believe their government or Congress is serving them.
“A lot of businesses didn’t want to locate here because they didn’t want to deal with the politics… well, they don’t have to worry about that now with Hansen Clarke as their Congressman,” Clarke said.
Clarke doesn’t say Cheeks Kilpatrick is corrupt, but said people were looking for a “fresh image for the region.”
“Many times they’ve been arrogant and corrupt, and that time of culture hasn’t served the public well, and all of us, regardless if we live in the suburbs or not, get labeled with that stigma,” Clarke said.
Too many times members of Congress get caught up in the culture of Washington and they’re so removed and insulated from what people need in Detroit, Clarke said.
“What in turn happens, the members of Congress start spending and borrowing our money, putting our country in debt, jeopardizing our national security, and yet the public here doesn’t get the benefit of more jobs,” he said.
Kilpatrick was considered the underdog in the race, as she battled the scandal surrounding her son, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who is now serving time in prison. She is the sixth current incumbent, and the fourth in the House, to lose so far this year.
Carol Cain, host of Michigan Matters on WWJ-TV, believes the actions of Kilpatrick’s controversial son may have affected voters’ decisions at the polls.
“I have to imagine that Kwame Kilpatrick is sitting in his cell feeling pretty bad right about now, and what happened, because it’s much a reflection on Kwame Kilpatrick as Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick,” Cain said.
Because of Michigan’s term limits law, every single seat in the State Legislature was on the line during the primary. University of Michigan-Dearborn Political Science Professor Dale Thomson believes it puts all lawmakers at a distinct disadvantage.
“There’s no sense of need among the legislatures to build relationships across the aisle or with state agencies,” said Thomson.
“There’s more of a combativeness, no sense of longevity, and it takes a long time for these newly elected folks to get up to speed on what’s going on and I think in a time like now, especially, that can be particularly problematic,” he said.
“I’m hesitant to say it’s an end of an era in politics because it’s a strange beast,” said Thomson. “But if I were a betting man that’s where I’d put my money in terms of Kilpatrick.”
Clarke now becomes the favorite to win the November election, where he faces off against Grosse Pointe Woods Republican and Tea Party leader John Hauler.
Kilpatrick will end her congressional term this year at seven terms. In Michigan state representatives are limited to three two-year terms while state senators are limited to two four-year terms.
(Copyright 2010 by WWJ Radio. All Rights Reserved.)