Dec 21, 2009

Clarke may challenge Cheeks-Kilpatrick for Congressional seat

State Sen. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit, may be running to unseat U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit.

The term-limited Senator told subscription only MIRS last week that has been approached to run against the long-time Congresswoman. He has not made a final decision but he has not ruled it out. I hope he makes a run.

Kilpatrick has represented the 13th District for seven terms. But after her son – former disgraced Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick - was embroiled in scandal, she faced two challengers last year, and she was almost unseated in the primary. The two Democratic challengers basically split the vote, and Kilpatrick squeaked by. The 13th District represents most of the east side of Detroit, as well as some of the northern portion of the Downriver area. Clark’s 1st Senate District is located within most of the 13th District where he is very popular. Clarke also challenged her son for Detroit Mayor in 2005, but failed.

MIRS reported that polling has indicated that Kilpatrick is vulnerable once again in 2010. Although Kilpatrick has never been involved in a scandal, that I’m aware of, it would be great to have someone as upright as Clarke in the office.

Clarke serves as the minority vice-chair of the Health Policy Committee and the Commerce and Tourism Committee. He also serves on the Judiciary Committee, the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and the Government Operations and Reform Committee. He has been an outspoken champion of foreclosure protection and insurance reform, and he has spoken passionately about it on the Senate floor.

Livingston County Democrats are familiar with Clarke after he spoke at the annual Edwin B. Winans Dinner in 2007. He told the story of how his political career began as an undergraduate at Cornell University when he beat another undergraduate from a rich, well-connected family named Ann Coulter for a student council seat.

Clarke grew up from humble beginnings in a working class neighborhood on Detroit's lower east side to attend an Ivy League university and become an attorney. He was raised alone by his mother, who worked as a school crossing guard, after his father passed away when he was just 8 years old. While in the third grade, an observant teacher recognized his artistic ability that promoted him to take art classes at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and it eventually led to a scholarship to Cornell University where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Clarke then attended Georgetown University Law School. After he received his law degree he returned to Michigan to practice law. He was elected to his first of three terms in the Michigan House in 1990. Clarke is not afraid to challenge an incumbent. He unseated an incumbent in the Senate in 2002, and he took on the incumbent Detroit Mayor in 2005.

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