State Sen. Coleman Young II is running for Congress to replace resigned U.S. Rep. John Conyers and is set to announce campaign plans Monday.
Young, who has served in the Michigan Legislature for the past decade but cannot run for re-election due to term limits, raised his profile this fall with an unsuccessful bid to unseat Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
“Right now a lot of folks are hurting, and we need leadership to step up and represent them,” Young told The Detroit News. “Really, I just want to be a servant. I want to serve the public and make a difference, whether it’s putting people back to work or rebuilding our roads.”
Young, 34, also said he wants to raise the federal minimum wage and supports efforts to raise the rate to $15 per hour. Michigan’s minimum wage is set to rise to $9.25 next month under a 2014 law.
“There’s no reason why in America you’ve got folks who are working full time in the wealthiest country in America and they can’t make ends meet,” he said.
The Detroit Democrat is one of at least three state senators considering a run in the 13th Congressional District, where experts predict a crowded primary for a seat that rarely comes open.
Sen. Ian Conyers of Detroit, the former congressman’s great-nephew, has said he plans to run. Sen. David Knezek of Dearborn Heights is also considering a congressional campaign in the heavily Democratic district.
Rep. Conyers resigned Tuesday amid allegations of sexual harassment by former staffers, which he has denied. He endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to succeed him in Congress, but the 27-year-old told The News he has not yet decided whether to run.
Democratic activist Michael Gilmore is running for the seat. Other possible hopefuls include former state Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Shanelle Jackson of Detroit, Westland Mayor Bill Wild, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and Councilwoman Mary Sheffield.
Young is expected to announce his planned congressional run at 11 a.m. Monday at Mario’s restaurant on Second Avenue in Detroit.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday scheduled a special election primary for Aug. 7, and a general election for Nov. 6 in the 13th Congressional District, which includes portions of Detroit and Dearborn Heights, along with several surrounding cities, including Westland and Redford Township.
Young ran an aggressive mayoral campaign against Duggan, a fellow Democrat, but came up far short in his bid to unseat him. Duggan won the Nov. 7 general election with 72 percent of the vote, compared to 28 percent for Young.
“We just had 10 grueling months of mortal combat,” said longtime Detroit political consultant Adolph Mongo, who is again working with Young as a campaign adviser. “He’s battle tested. Being a congressman would suit him well.”
Young attacked Duggan in their lone televised debate, accusing him of neglecting the poor and attracting corruption. Duggan counter-punched by questioning the state senator’s accomplishments in Lansing and accusing him of “making things up.”
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Young said of the mayoral race, making clear he’s ready for another campaign.
He called Conyers a civil rights “icon” who paved the way for African-American candidates like himself. “However, that does not excuse sexual assault,” Young said. “I think it’s unfortunate his career had to end the way it did.”
Young represents part of the congressional district in the state Senate but said earlier this week he does not currently live in the 13th. While he is not required to reside in the district to represent it, Young indicated he is prepared to move.
“That will be taken care of,” he said. “Trust me.”
Young is the son of former Mayor Coleman Young. He was raised under the name Joel Loving and lived in California until his mother, former Detroit Department of Public Works official Annivory Calvert, sued the mayor to confirm paternity through blood tests. Young first won election to the state House in 2006 and voters promoted him to the Senate four years later.
13th Congressional District Party Chairman Jonathan Kinloch is predicting “one of the biggest (candidate) filings we’ve seen” as Democrats vie to replace Conyers, who served in Congress for nearly 53 years.
Kinloch is working to convene a stakeholder meeting “to see if the broader community can wrap ourselves around the idea of supporting one candidate instead of dividing resources and dividing endorsements.”
“That’s something we’re talking about at the top of next week,” he told The News.