'We are literally in crisis': Hollier joins growing primary race for U.S. House seat

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — State Sen. Adam Hollier on Monday joined a growing primary field for an open seat in the predominantly Democratic new 13th Congressional District, with one supporter calling him an "agent of change." 

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Hollier became the fourth Democratic candidate to launch a campaign or exploratory committee, launching his campaign from the Plymouth United Church of Christ, just west of Interstate 75. 

State Rep. Adam Hollier announces his run for Congress in the 13th District at Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit on Jan. 24, 2022.

"Our country's literally on fire," Hollier said to kick off the announcement. "And that seems like hyperbole, but with climate change, global warming, with what happened in the D.C. insurrection, with the way manufacturing in this state is moving, we are literally in crisis."

The Rev. Nicholas Hood III, pastor of Plymouth United and a former two-term Detroit City Council member, described Hollier as an "agent of change," as opposed to an "agent of confusion."

"He's the right man for the right time," Hood said. "He has a heart for the people."

The midday press conference drew about two-dozen supporters, including Virgie Rollins, chair of the Democratic National Committee Black Caucus. Rollins said she attended in a personal capacity, not as part of her caucus work.

Rollins said Hollier has "demonstrated leadership," and that he has helped his community better understand the redistricting process in Michigan, which has been controversial.

The state senator has criticized how the state's independent redistricting commission spread out Black voters among Detroit area districts, which he argued diluted their influence and violated the Voting Rights Act. The commission argued it was countering Republican gerrymandering.

At 36, Hollier argues it would be wise to send someone to Congress with many years ahead of them. 

"When John Conyers got elected to Congress, in his mid-30s like I am today, he had enough time to go to Congress and be impactful," Hollier told The News last week.

The Detroit Democrat was elected to the Michigan Senate in 2018 but is opting for the congressional run rather than seeking re-election to a second term.

There will be no incumbent in the 13th race, as U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, has said she's moving to the newly redrawn 12th District covering Dearborn and suburban Wayne County.

Hollier joins former Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee, 54; Michael Griffie, a 38-year-old attorney who heads external affairs for Detroit's Teach for America chapter, and State Rep. Shri Thanedar, D-Detroit. 

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a member of Detroit's board of education and a former state representative, has also announced she will run and plans to kick off her campaign next week.

Two Republicans, Hassan Nehme and Articia Bomer, have also joined the race for their party's August primary.

More:Finley: Newcomer may be sleeper in 13th

While Thanedar, 66, placed last in the 2018 Democratic primary for governor, he did carry Detroit. Since then he moved to Detroit from Ann Arbor and in 2020 won a state House seat covering a portion of Detroit's east side.

Thanedar spent nearly $10 million running for governor.

Hollier said last week that "fundamentally, this race is about ensuring that we have a Black member of Congress."

Godbee, Griffie and Hollier are all African American. Thanedar is Indian American. 

Jonathan Kinloch, who chairs the 13th District Democratic Party Organization , noted that the district covers 19 communities compared with 12 in the old district. 

Hollier said that his state Senate district has 10 communities. 

"It is my expectation that as a congressman for the 13th Congressional District, I will do just as good job representing the people who live Downriver as people live in the city of Detroit, as good as Hamtramck, Highland Park, Harper Woods and the Grosse Pointes," he said. "We have way more in common than we have separate."

Kinloch urged the candidates to focus on "pocketbook" issues.

Kinloch said that while a "Black-centered campaign" probably wouldn't work, talking about "common interests and common pains," felt widely across the district, would fare better.

"At the end of the day, it's all about economics," Kinloch said.