Democrats vying for Conyers's seat in Congress make final pitch to voters
The six candidates vying to replace resigned U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Detroit were knocking doors and making calls to voters Monday in a final attempt to secure support ahead of Tuesday's primary.
The 13th Congressional District race has attracted a crowded field of Democratic contenders who hope to take the reins for the district Conyers represented for more than a half-century. They are Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, ex-State Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Shanelle Jackson, state Sen. Coleman A. Young II, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and state Sen. Ian Conyers, the congressman's great nephew.
Wild spent Monday afternoon door knocking on his home turf.
"This is my base here. We've got great support here but at the end of the day, it's important that people get out and vote," Wild told The Detroit News between talking with residents of the Holliday Park townhome community off of Wayne Road.
Wild, 50, distributed literature along with his wife, Sherri and son, Luke, 16, as well as daughters Lily, 13 and 11-year-old Payton.
Wild is serving his third term as Westland mayor after getting re-elected in November. Wild formerly made an unsuccessful 2014 bid for Wayne County executive. He's hoping to leverage his reputation in the county to win over the district's suburban voters.
Challengers Ian Conyers and Jackson were reaching out Monday to voters on the city's west side.
Conyers was out with a group of volunteers canvassing a west-side neighborhood and said he had teams of two fanning out in other parts of the district. In a text message to The News, Conyers noted his campaign had also kicked off a "phone bank party."
Conyers, 29, is a first-term senator who won a 2016 special election to replace former Sen. Virgil Smith Jr., who resigned amid a domestic violence scandal.
Elected at the age of 28, the Georgetown University graduate became the youngest state senator in Michigan history. He's the only Conyers appearing on Tuesday's ballot.
Jackson, who formerly served six years representing Michigan's 9th District, said her campaign was knocking doors near North Rosedale Park and planned to head into the Redford Township area. The teams, she said, will be out into the evening hours.
Monday night will be spent determining which polling spots to deploy her base of about 50 volunteers for Tuesday, added Jackson, who is director of government relations for the Moroun-owned Detroit International Bridge Co.
She said a debate last week has helped her gain more support among voters and she's feeling confident heading into Election Day.
"It's the story of my life: I always get underestimated and I always over perform," she said. "African American women needed to see me and a lot of them got the opportunity to see more of me. They got to see that I'm them."
Wild had a warm reception from most that he encountered Monday, including JoAnn Romps, who opened her door and told Wild he had her vote.
Another woman nearby greeted Wild, telling him: "I know you. You've got my vote. Good luck to you."
Wild said most of his campaign workers were busy phone banking Monday. By Tuesday, Wild intends to visit Detroit and portions of the other communities in the congressional district that also covers Redford Township and Dearborn Heights.
"We've got a lot of momentum," said Wild, who spent Sunday visiting Detroit churches. "We're swinging the right way at the right time."
Conyers Jr., who resigned in December amid sexual harassment allegations, had endorsed his son, John Conyers III, who was disqualified from the ballot for an insufficient number of signatures. Election officials also rejected a separate bid from the younger Conyers to appear on the November ballot as an independent candidate.
Jones said she had no scheduled events Sunday or Monday, telling The Detroit News she'd be "playing it by ear."
"Tomorrow is the big day and we will be out there tomorrow going to polls and talking to our constituents, and we'll be all over the 13th Congressional District," Jones told The News late Monday. "We're doing everything to encourage people to turn out."
Jones said voters also need to be reminded to vote two times, since they also must elect a candidate to finish out Conyers' unexpired term that will last almost two months.
The two-term council president has said she's known as "a voice for the people" and entered the race with broad name recognition and dozens of prominent endorsements.
Meanwhile, Tlaib of Detroit is vying to be the first female Muslim member of Congress. Wore than $1 million in contributions, she has raised more money than all of her challengers.
Her Monday schedule wasn't immediately clear but she spent part of the day Sunday with volunteers at her campaign headquarters in Redford Township after a poll-watcher training.
"Beyond here, beyond our 13th Congressional District, there's people that need us to win, and they need it so badly," Tlaib said Sunday of her historic candidacy.
Young is making a bid for the seat after an overwhelming election loss to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in last November's race for Detroit mayor.
The 35-year-old said he's learned from the defeat and remains focused on promoting his 12-year "record of getting things done" in the state Legislature. He could not be immediately reached Monday.
Melissa Nann Burke contributed