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.


New coronavirus cases in Hong Kong raise concerns of local cluster

Updated 39 min 24 sec ago

New coronavirus cases in Hong Kong raise concerns of local cluster

  • The infected woman is a night-shift worker at a Kerry Logistics warehouse
  • The government was expected to extend a ban on group gatherings larger than eight later on Tuesday
HONG KONG: A cluster of nine coronavirus cases raised concerns in Hong Kong over renewed local transmission in a city that has been one of the most successful in keeping the pandemic under control. The first two cases in the cluster — a husband and wife — were confirmed on Sunday. Since then four neighbors, two of the wife’s work colleagues, and a fire department medical officer who had sent the woman to hospital have been confirmed to have been infected. None had been abroad recently.
“We are very concerned about this cluster of nine,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told her weekly news conference on Tuesday, before an executive council meeting.
The infected woman is a night-shift worker at a Kerry Logistics warehouse, where she labels food items imported from Britain, local media reported.
The government was expected to extend a ban on group gatherings larger than eight later on Tuesday. It was due to expire at the end of Thursday, and has been extended several times for two-week periods.
The limits on the size of gatherings prompted police to reject for the first time an application of the annual vigil tens of thousands of Hong Kong people traditionally hold in a downtown park to commemorate pro-democracy protesters killed in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 31 years ago.
A further extension is also likely to thwart plans for legally organizing anniversary marches of the anti-government protests that started in June last year and resumed recently after Beijing announced plans to impose national security laws on Hong Kong.
Lam has repeatedly said health measures had no political motive. On Tuesday, she said they were not about “taking away people’s freedom,” but about protecting people, adding that public health was “also part of national security.”
As of Monday, Hong Kong had reported 1,088 coronavirus cases and four deaths.