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Brenda Lawrence Becomes 25th Democrat to Opt Out of Reelection

January 5, 2022 by Dan McCue
Brenda Lawrence Becomes 25th Democrat to Opt Out of Reelection
Rep. Brenda Lawrence.

WASHINGTON — Rep. Brenda Lawrence, Michigan’s only Black member of Congress, revealed Tuesday evening that she will not be running for reelection in 2022.

Lawrence is the 25th incumbent Democratic House member to opt out of a reelection bid this fall. Eleven Republican members have also said they will not run.

Prior to her announcement, the speculation was Lawrence would retire because she was unhappy about the way the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission had redrawn her district in new political maps finalized last month.

Michigan is losing one congressional seat this census cycle due to faster population growth in other parts of the country. The redrawn map merged parts of Lawrence’s district with parts of what had been Rep. Rashida Tlaib ‘s district and Dearborn, which is represented by Rep. Debbie Dingell.

But on Tuesday, Lawrence said the new configuration of the district was not a factor.

“While it would have been a challenging race, I’m confident I would have been reelected,” she said.

Instead, she said, this is simply “the right time to turn the page” and spend more time at home and with her family.

Lawrence said despite her announcement, she will spend the rest of the year fighting for issues of concern for her constituents, including passing the voting rights law currently before the Senate, and protecting women’s rights and the environment. 

On Wednesday, Rep. Tlaib announced she plans to run in the newly drawn district Lawrence now represents. As previously reported in The Well News, Dingell had already said that she planned to run in her new district.

That means the newly drawn 13th Congressional District, which Tlaib would be leaving, is now effectively up for grabs.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D- Conn., released a statement Wednesday afternoon reflecting on their time together in the House, including during Lawrences most recent role as vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

“Representative Lawrence’s entire career has shown dedication to public service, taking her from the United States Postal Service to the halls of Congress,” DeLauro said. “As a school board member, city councilwoman, as the first African American and first woman Mayor of Southfield, Michigan, and in the House since 2014, Representative Lawrence has tenaciously focused on the well-being of hard-working middle class families and those struggling to make it in the middle class.

“As Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee and as a Member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, Representative Lawrence has been a valued colleague,” she continued. “I have particularly appreciated her strong commitment to equal treatment for women and her work on policies that will close persistent racial disparities and move America forward. I have also seen up close her fierce advocacy for her district.

“Representative Lawrence’s leadership as Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus has brought women’s issues, like equal pay for equal work, domestic violence services, and women’s health, to the forefront of the Democratic agenda. In turn, she has given women all over this country a voice in the Congress,” DeLauro said.

“Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence has devoted her entire life in service to her beloved Detroit-area community,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a written statement. “Whether working for the Postal Service, serving on the school board, leading the city of Southfield as mayor or legislating in the Congress, she has made a meaningful difference for her constituents and for our country.

“Over her four terms in the House, Rep. Lawrence has been a force for equality and justice for all.  As a leader of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and the powerful Appropriations Committee, she has long fought to lift up working women and communities of color – from better maternal health care, to more apprenticeship opportunities, to action on gun violence, and more,” the speaker continued.

“When a water crisis erupted in nearby Flint, she was a leader in sounding the alarm about the danger that lead pipes pose to our children.  In the years since, she has proudly led the charge to improve our nation’s water infrastructure, particularly in underserved communities.  Recognizing her leadership and concern for justice, I was proud to appoint her to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

“Our caucus and the Congress are grateful for Rep. Lawrence’s continued leadership for the people through the end of her term.  We wish her all the best as she prepares for her next chapter, alongside her devoted husband McArthur, loving children Michael and Michelle, and precious granddaughter, Asya,” Pelosi said.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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