August 5, 2014 at 1:00 am

Lawrence declares victory over Hobbs in tight race to replace Peters

Brenda Lawrence on the race for Congress
Brenda Lawrence on the race for Congress: The Southfield mayor states her case for representing the 14th Congressional District on primary election day.

Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence declared victory Wednesday over state Rep. Rudy Hobbs in her bid to replace U.S. Rep. Gary Peters in the 14th Congressional District.

Lawrence said Hobbs called her after midnight to concede Tuesday’s hard fought Democratic primary.

“The numbers reflect a win, and I’m very excited about that,” Lawrence said before the start of a Democratic Party unity event at Wayne State University. “It’s a done deal.”

Lawrence said she would work hard to be inclusive of all parts of the district, which snakes from Pontiac south through Oakland County and draws in parts of northern and east Detroit and the Grosse Pointes.

“Everyone has a seat at my table as a congresswoman,” said Lawrence, whose apparent victory all but assures her a general election win in the Democratic-heavy district.

The race was Lawrence’s fourth attempt to win an office higher than the Southfield mayor’s position.

“For women, sometimes it’s not as easy to rise to the top,” Lawrence said. “You have to prove yourself. You have to show … that you can do the job. I connected with the people of this district. They wanted someone that listened to them.”

Lawrence had 26,400 votes to Hobbs’ 24,007 votes, according to the latest results collected by the Associated Press.

Former U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, who lost a Democratic primary to Gary Peters in 2010, finished third with 22,869 votes.

“I ran because people wanted me to run,” Clarke said Wednesday morning after a post-primary Democratic Party unity breakfast in Detroit. “And for me, the victory wasn’t about just winning an election, it was about giving people a chance to live a better life. There’s a lot of ways I can do that.”

Earlier, a spokesman for the Hobbs camp said he believed Hobbs had won.

The winner is poised to face Republican Christine Conyers in the fall in the Democratic-leaning 14th Congressional District.

Lawrence, 59, campaigned on her experience as not only a mayor, but an international ambassador for Southfield’s business interests and a woman in a male-dominated field who was endorsed by EMILY’s List, which backs pro-choice Democratic women who support abortion rights.

She recently promoted herself as the anti-L. Brooks Patterson, referring to Oakland County’s longtime Republican executive. She also is backed by Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Hobbs, the 39-year-old state House minority floor leader, campaigned as someone who rose to a legislative leadership position in four years and who can help fill a vacuum when Michigan next year loses longtime congressional committee chairmen like Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit; Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell; and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland.

Hobbs gained a slew of Democratic endorsements that include Sen. Levin and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin of Royal Oak; former Govs. Jennifer Granholm and James Blanchard; as well as the United Auto Workers, Michigan State AFL-CIO and Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, Clarke touted his two years in Congress in 2011-12 as giving him a level of experience his primary opponents lacked. He lost to Peters in a 2012 primary when most of his former 13th District was folded into a new 14th District during redistricting.

He argued he has “the personal relationships in Washington to get things done.” The 57-year-old former state representative and state senator was endorsed by the Detroit Firefighters Association and the Fannie Lou Hamer political action committee as well as the Oakland County Black Democrats and Wayne County Black Democrats.

Hobbs raised more than $530,000 through June 30, according to Federal Elections Commission filings, compared with Lawrence’s about $375,000 and Clarke’s roughly $138,500. Foster did not file a fundraising report.

Burgess Foster, 46, has no previous elected office experience, but the middle school teacher described himself as a conservative Democrat who wanted to push a home refurbishment plan for Detroit, Pontiac and Hamtramck that would put families into new and restored buildings on a rent-to-own plan. Foster was far behind the other candidates in votes.
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Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence smiles as she receives her 'I voted' sticker at Southfield City Hall on Tuesday. / Max Ortiz / The Detroit News
Hobbs (Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)
Former U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke speaks with voter Sheryl Johnson Alexander ... (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)