Tlaib faces tough challenge in US primary race, poll shows

Rashida Tlaib, right, questions Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., February 27, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 May 2020

Tlaib faces tough challenge in US primary race, poll shows

  • Rashida Tlaib narrowly won Michigan’s 13th congressional district race on Aug. 7, 2018, defeating four African-American candidates in the process
  • Ed Sarpolus, a veteran pollster, said his polling shows Tlaib’s popularity in the district has dropped 28 percent in the 16 months since she took office

CHICAGO: First-term Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a member of the anti-Trump “Squad” and a strong critic of Israeli policy, is losing ground in her re-election bid, according to a leading pollster.

Tlaib narrowly won Michigan’s 13th congressional district race on Aug. 7, 2018, defeating four African-American candidates to fill the vacancy left by the death of Congressman John Conyers.
Ed Sarpolus, a veteran pollster and former adviser to Conyers, said his polling shows Tlaib’s popularity in the district has dropped 28 percent in the 16 months since she took office, leaving her vulnerable to defeat in this year’s Democratic primary on Aug. 4.

So far only Brenda Jones, the popular Detroit City Council president who ran second in the 2018 election — losing to Tlaib by only 900 votes out of nearly 90,000 votes cast — has announced her intention to run again.

In a survey of voting intentions, Jones received 34 percent and Tlaib 43 percent, with 23 percent undecided.

The poll shows Tlaib’s lead dropping to 38 percent from 54 percent the previous year in Detroit, and from 57 percent to 48 percent in suburban areas.

Sarpolus cautioned that although polling shows Tlaib is vulnerable, Jones entered the race late and has struggled to build momentum in the past 16 months.

“Even though Tlaib’s base has been cut, Jones doesn’t have the money and hasn’t made any effort to organize a campaign since losing in 2018,” Sarpolus said.

He said that “organized efforts” had been made to defeat Tlaib.

“Political leaders in both parties in the state and nationally have expressed their unhappiness with her, and indicated their support for a replacement. Tlaib has alienated various special interest, ethnic and racial groups,” he said.

On top of those challenges, both candidates face uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic, with restrictions on face-to-face campaigning, rallies and even fundraising amid crippling unemployment and a sagging economy.

“Tlaib has lost support because some believe she has embarrassed Michigan with the things she has said,” Sarpolus claimed.

However, the Michigan rep’s attacks against Israel are unlikely to translate into strong opposition in the election since the Jewish community appears unwilling to enter the race strongly, he added.

Sarpolus said that Jones has done little campaigning until now and is yet to show she will be a strong candidate.

“Jones’ biggest problem is raising money. Tlaib has money and experience running a strong and effective campaign. This election is Rashida’s to lose,” he said.

The 13th district was held by Conyers, a popular African-American leader, for 52 years. The population base is 56.5 percent black, 37.6 percent white and 1.2 percent Asian.

Although Greater Detroit has a strong Arab-American presence in the district, their numbers are included in the white category by the Census.

Sarpolus said his polling shows that Tlaib and Jones are neck-and-neck in Detroit, where the African-American vote is based, but the former enjoys a stronger lead in the Detroit suburbs, or “out county” as it is often called in Michigan.

Tlaib has been a more vocal critic of Donald Trump than Jones, who failed to exploit the tensions that exist between the black community and the president, he said.

“The black community originally didn’t want Tlaib, but Jones has been quiet on Trump,” Sarpolus said, adding that this is a major political mistake for the candidate.

Although the election is more than 90 days away, a change in the voting process last election will allow “absentee” votes to be cast from July 1.

That means most voters are likely to make their decision a month before the election, reducing the campaign time to only two months, Sarpolus said.

More than 40 percent of voters cast absentee ballots in the last election and that number will increase dramatically.

Sarpolus said that many factors will decide the election, but his polling indicates that “this election is Tlaib’s to lose.”

He said that Jones has a lot of campaign ground to make up and lacks financial resources to mount an effective campaign.

“Brenda Jones has been around a long time. She has been very supportive of the Arab-American community and is president of the Detroit City Council,” Sarpolus said.

“The black community does not have a lot of money to support candidates in Greater Detroit, so Jones has had to turn to the business community, which has been hit hard by the pandemic,” he added.

Pregnant mom, unborn child die in India

Updated 08 July 2020

Pregnant mom, unborn child die in India

  • Devastated family mourn latest victim of health system struggling to cope with outbreak

NEW DELHI: The death of an expectant mom and her unborn child after 13 hospitals in one day refused to treat her has put India’s strained health care system under the spotlight.

The devastated husband and 6-year-old child of eight-month pregnant Neelam Singh, 30, are still struggling to come to terms with the “unwarranted loss” a month after her agonizing death in an ambulance outside a hospital in New Delhi.

With more than 100,000 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the Indian capital, Singh became another victim of a health system battling to cope with patient demand due to a lack of bed space and infrastructure.

That, however, has been little comfort for her family members who said they would never be able to overcome the trauma.

“Those 12 hours were the most traumatic experience of our lives, and we have to live with that trauma,” Shailendra Kumar, Singh’s brother-in-law, told Arab News on Tuesday. Singh had developed complications with her pregnancy on June 5, and Kumar said she was rushed to the same hospital in Noida, Uttar Pradesh where she had been going for regular checkups, but was turned away.

“Shivalik (hospital) gave no reason for refusing to admit her. Despite our pleadings, the hospital did not budge from its stand,” Kumar added.

A day-long ordeal ensued, with one hospital after the other unable to treat her. Eventually, she died in an ambulance some 35 kilometers away from her home in Khoda.

“I took her to 13 hospitals, both government and private facilities, and every one refused to admit her. The image of her writhing in pain will always haunt me,” said Kumar, who was accompanied by Singh’s husband. He added that the reasons provided varied from “high costs” to a lack of facilities.

“One hospital told me that I could not pay the high cost so better try my luck somewhere else. At Sharda Hospital in Greater Noida, I was asked to buy a coupon for COVID-19 treatment for 4,500 rupees ($60), which I did, but still, they refused her entry. It was not the loss of one life but two lives,” he said, referring to her unborn child.

He pointed out that the entire family was in a state of shock following her death with her husband “the worst impacted.”

Kumar filed a complaint against Shivalik and other hospitals but said so far “no action has been taken.”

A day after Singh’s death, the district magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar, which Noida falls under, ordered an inquiry and issued instructions for all hospitals “to admit patients regardless of the nature of the case.”

However, 20 days later, on June 26, a similar incident was reported in the Dadri area of Noida.

On that occasion, 21-year-old Robin Bhati had developed a fever, and relatives had taken him to a nearby hospital where a week earlier he had been admitted suffering from influenza. However, the hospital refused to admit him and referred him to a different facility.

Five hours and four hospitals later, a city hospital agreed to take him in, but by then Bhati was already seriously ill and hours later he died after suffering a heart attack.

“We don’t know whether he was a COVID-19 patient or not, but why should hospitals refuse to admit a patient in need of immediate attention,” his uncle Jasveer Bhati told Arab News. A number of the Noida hospitals which allegedly denied admission to Singh and Bhati refused to comment on the cases.

In a statement on Monday, the office of Noida’s chief medical officer said: “Strict instructions have been given to all the private and government hospitals to admit all patients showing COVID-19 symptoms.”

Dr. Loveleen Mangla, a pulmonologist working with Noida-based Metro Hospital and Heart Institute, said: “The government did not prepare itself to face this situation. Now the government is trying to create extra beds and medical facilities, but it’s late. They should have done this three months ago when the nationwide lockdown started.

“With the entire medical infrastructure overstretched and not many quality health workers available in the government hospitals, it’s a grim scenario now,” Mangla added.

With more than 723,000 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, India is now the world’s third worst-affected country after the US and Brazil, with approaching 21,000 people losing their lives.

And the problem is not unique to northern India.

On Saturday, the southern Indian city of Bangalore reported the case of 50-year-old Vasantha, who was rejected by 13 hospitals before she was accepted by the K.C. General Hospital where she eventually died.

Lalitha, a relative of Vasantha, said: “Some hospitals said they didn’t have beds; some said they didn’t have COVID-19 testing facilities, and that way we lost critical hours. She died because of a problem with her respiratory system.”

Experts have questioned whether health care facilities in India are being overstretched purely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Anant Bhan, a Delhi-based independent researcher in global health, policy and bioethics, said: “Is there a real shortage of beds or is it the shortage caused by lack of efficient management? If the cases increase further, we might find it difficult to provide care.”