Marlinga wins five-way Democratic primary in 10th District race for Congress

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Former judge and prosecutor Carl Marlinga won the five-way Democratic primary contest for U.S. House on Tuesday for the open seat representing southern Macomb County, Rochester and Rochester Hills, according to unofficial returns.

Marlinga heads next to the general election where he'll face Republican John James of Farmington Hills, a former U.S. Senate candidate who won the GOP primary with 87% to Tony Marcinkewciz's 13%.

The fall matchup is expected to be highly competitive and a national target for both major parties.

Marlinga had 47% with 46% of votes counted. He was followed by Rhonda Powell of Mount Clemens, former director of Macomb County Health and Community Services, with 15% and Macomb Township attorney Huwaida Arraf with 16%. 

They were followed by Warren City Councilwoman Angela Rogensues with 13% and former state Rep. Henry Yanez with 11%.

Democratic congressional candidate Carl Marlinga at the Rochester Farmers Market in Rochester on Saturday, June 18, 2022.

The seat in Michigan's new 10th District is up for grabs in November after redistricting. 

Marlinga, 75, likely entered the race with likely the best name identification after decades in public life in Macomb County as prosecutor for 19 years, an assistant U.S. attorney and as a judge on the county Circuit and Probate Courts. He stepped down from the bench in February to run for U.S. House. 

After a previous failed run for Congress in 2002, Marlinga said his motivation to join the race this year was the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and the disproven claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against former President Donald Trump.

"My mantra from the very beginning is that I'm going to run as hard as I can and I'm not going to stop campaigning until Nov. 8 at the last hour but that doesn't mean that I'm bragging that I'm going to win the primary," Marlinga told The Detroit News this summer.

"But it does mean that this seat is so important that I want it to be held by a representative who cares deeply about the integrity of the election and will not let it be hijacked by forces on the right or the left."

Henry Yanez, a Democratic candidate for the 10th Congressional District, talks with George Driscoll of Sterling Heights, Michigan on June17, 2022 while campaigning in the area.

Glynis Dale, 58, a school social worker from Sterling Heights, voted for Marlinga on Tuesday because “he has a proven track record. I like what he’s done.”

Fayetel Cherry, 54, a program analyst of Sterling Heights, also voted for Marlinga mainly because of his name recognition, she said.

“My main concern is the economy, of course, with the rising inflation costs,” she said. “Crime is always going to be a concern. And our current state of divide. We need to come together as a society of people, stop all this division and politics.”

Marlinga and Yanez both enjoyed support from labor unions, including the Teamsters and Michigan Education Association for Marlinga and the Michigan Association of Police and the Michigan Professional Firefighters Union for Yanez. 

Yanez, 64, served in the state House from 2013-2018, spent nearly 30 years as a Sterling Heights firefighter and has been a council member for the city since 2019. 

Since 2019, Rogensues has been an at-large member of city council in Warren, the state's third largest city. She is president of Ignition Media Group, a Detroit-based brand and marketing agency and previously was executive director of the nonprofit Playworks Michigan. 

She chairs the board and executive committee of the Michigan Municipal Services Authority, appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and also co-chairs the Michigan AFL-CIO Labor Caucus.

Rogensues led fundraising in the last quarter of the race, posting $120,150 in receipts from April through June and heading into July with about $85,400 in cash reserves. 

Warren City Council member (At Large) Angela Rogensues, a Democrat of Warren, campaigns for the 10th Congressional District seat at the African American Coalition Juneteenth Celebration at the Dodge Park Farmers Market in Sterling Heights, Friday evening, June 17, 2022.

Arraf, 46, brought to the race a background in human rights activism and civil rights law. She previously worked for the Detroit firm Goodman Hurwitz and James. 

The daughter of Palestinian immigrants, she co-founded the International Solidarity Movement to support Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance to Israel’s policies.

A first-time candidate, Powell, 52, has touted her real-life experience in running homeless shelters, working on the business side of education and growing up in public housing.

Powell made headlines in 2019 by filing a whistleblower suit against County Executive Mark Hackel and his assistant, alleging she was fired from her county post for complaining about racial discrimination against county employees. The county has denied that and blamed instead "serious administrative failures" on Powell's watch.

Democrat Rhonda Powell of Mount Clemens is running for Congress in the 10th District.

James, a 41-year-old U.S. Army veteran, had been recruited by national Republicans to run for the seat, and he's been endorsed by Trump. He is president of his family's business, the James Group International, a supply-chain management firm in southwest Detroit. 

Judy Rogers, 57, a homemaker from Rochester Hills, voted Tuesday for John James because “he’s exactly what we need right now.”

“I like his strong military background, his kind of no-nonsense approach to things and I just believe he's for the people,” she said after voting at Van Hoosen Middle School.

He ran for U.S. Senate twice and lost in 2018 and 2020 against incumbent Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, though he outperformed the top of the GOP ticket in both races. 

Staff writer Kalea Hall contributed.

mburke@detroitnews.com