August 6, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Lawrence emerges as winner of Democratic primary for Gary Peters' seat

Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence gets a hug from election volunteer Mary Rankins at Southfield City Hall on Tuesday. (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)

In a race where confusion reigned on election night, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence emerged Wednesday as the victor from a tight Democratic primary for U.S. Rep. Gary Peters’ 14th District seat.

Until the early hours Wednesday morning, there were conflicting accounts of who had won — with Lawrence and state Rep. Rudy Hobbs of Southfield in a dead heat. When the smoke cleared, however, Lawrence walked away with a victory

The final tally had Lawrence, 59, receiving 36 percent of the vote to Hobbs’ 32 percent. Former Congressman Hansen Clarke finished third with 31 percent of the vote, and Detroiter Burgess Foster had 1 percent.

Lawrence will now face Republican Christine Conyers in the race to represent the 14th district, which includes portions of northwest Detroit, Oakland and Wayne counties.

On Wednesday, officials with the Hobbs campaign could not be reached about whether they planned to ask for a recount.

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

Clarke said he could live with the result.

“I ran because people wanted me to run,” he 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.”

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 Democrat-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.”

The 14th District drew considerable attention when Democratic incumbent Peters chose to seek a U.S. Senate seat.

Part of the early confusion in the race stemmed from incorrect vote totals published by the Associated Press well after midnight that showed Hobbs the winner by a narrow margin.

Staff Writer Chad Livengood contributed.