Newspaper article Roll Call

An Ex-Congressman's Shaky Comeback Bid in Michigan

Newspaper article Roll Call

An Ex-Congressman's Shaky Comeback Bid in Michigan

Article excerpt

Former Rep. Hansen Clarke's hopes of returning to Congress in a definitive Tuesday primary might be just that for the Michigan Democrat -- hopes.

He's attempting to leverage his name recognition as a former one- term member, but Clarke's top two Democratic rivals, state Rep. Rudy Hobbs and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, have major political heft behind their campaigns. Several of Clarke's former colleagues have lined up behind his opponents, and others expressed doubt about his prospects of coming back to Congress.

"I wanted Hansen to come back, but Hansen didn't get any labor endorsements," said Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., who is neutral in the race, in between votes last week. "I think that that's almost fatal."

Clarke lost re-election in 2012, when Democratic Rep. Gary Peters trounced him in a member-vs.-member race in the Detroit-based, black- majority district that stretches from the city's wealthiest suburbs to its poorest neighborhoods. Clarke ran a disorganized campaign and sources on the ground said a similar scenario is playing out again in the open-seat race this time.

For example, Clarke entered the race in mid-April -- a late start compared to his primary foes. Hobbs announced his bid nearly a year earlier -- just after Peters jumped into the Senate contest -- and the state lawmaker has the support of most of the labor unions in the district.

Labor is a key constituency in the district's Democratic primary, the winner of which is almost certainly come to Congress. In 2012, President Barack Obama won 81 percent of the vote in the 14th District.

In a phone interview last week, Clarke contested he had the support of rank-and-file members.

"Labor vote is very important," Clarke said in a phone interview. "That's why I received the support of the rank and file. Those are the ones that actually vote."

But Clarke also lags far behind his opponents in fundraising, bringing in $179,000 for the effort as of his most recent fundraising report ending July 16. He only had $20,000 in cash on hand going into the primary's final stretch.

Support from Clarke's former colleagues back in Washington, D.C., is sparse. Online fundraising records show no members donated to his campaign save for Rep. …

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