|Brenda L. Lawrence|
|Member-elect of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 14th district
January 3, 2015
|Mayor of Southfield, Michigan|
|Preceded by||Donald Fracassi|
|Member of the Southfield, Michigan City Council|
October 18, 1954 |
Brenda L. Lawrence (born October 18, 1954) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who has served as the Mayor of Southfield, Michigan since 2001. The Democratic nominee for Oakland County Executive in 2008 and for Lieutenant Governor in 2010, she is the nominee for Michigan's 14th congressional district in the 2014 elections.
- 1 Early life, education, and early political career
- 2 Southfield politics
- 3 Campaigns for higher office
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Electoral history
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Early life, education, and early political career
Lawrence grew up in Detroit's northeast side, on Lumpkin Street. She was raised by her grandparents after her mother died when she was three years old. She graduated from Detroit's Pershing High School, and earned her bachelor's degree in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.
In the early 1990s, as an active member of the Parent Teacher's Association at her children's school, she sought and earned a seat on the Southfield Public Schools Board of Education, serving as president, vice president, and secretary.
In 1997, she was elected to serve on Southfield's City Council and in 1999 she was elected council president.
In 2001, she defeated longtime Southfield Mayor Donald Fracassi, becoming the city's first African-American and first female Mayor. She was re-elected in 2005 without opposition. As Mayor, she was invited by the U.S. House Oversight Committee in 2008 to represent United States mayors in testimony about the mortgage crisis and its effect on American communities. She returned to Washington later that year to lobby Congress for a bridge loan for the American auto industry.
Lawrence was a Michigan delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. As a superdelegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, she endorsed U.S. Senator Barack Obama for president in June 2008.
Campaigns for higher office
2008 Oakland County Executive election
In May 2008, Lawrence announced her candidacy for Oakland County Executive. She was unopposed for the Democratic nomination to unseat the long-timeRepublican incumbent, L. Brooks Patterson. Patterson won re-election 58%-42%. Lawrence's challenge to the polarizing Patterson was identified as the strongest challenge he faced in his six elections for County Executive.
2010 gubernatorial election
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero named Lawrence as his running mate in his bid for Michigan governor. She was formally nominated as the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor at the Michigan Democratic Party convention in August 2010. They campaigned around the state promoting a 'Main Street Agenda' with emphasis on their shared backgrounds as mayors.
As with the national election results, the 2010 general election in Michigan saw strong turnout and enthusiasm by Republican voters. Political pundits attributed the losses by Democrats, in part, to voter reaction to Democratic President Barack Obama and term-limited Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm. The Democratic gubernatorial ticket lost to Republican nominees Rick Snyder, a businessman, and Brian Calley, a State Representative, 58%-40%. No Democrats were elected statewide in 2010.
2012 Congressional election
In late 2011, she announced she would be running in the newly redrawn 14th congressional district. She faced U.S. Representatives Hansen Clarke and Gary Peters, both of whom lived outside the district, and former State Representative Mary D. Waters. Peters won with 47%, Clarke took 35%, Lawrence 13% and Waters 3%. Peters went on to win the general election.
2014 Congressional election
In May 2013, Peters announced that he would not be running for re-election in 2014. He is instead running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Carl Levin. On January 23, 2014, Lawrence announced that she would be running for the 14th district for the second time.
Lawrence was the first candidate to submit signatures to the state in order to be on the August primary ballot, doing so in March. Other candidates that filed for the Democratic nomination were former Congressman Hansen Clarke of Detroit, State Representative Rudy Hobbs of Southfield and teacher Burgess D. Foster of Detroit.
During the course of the campaign's contribution reporting, Hobbs raised a total of $607,806, Lawrence raised a total of $383,649 and Clarke raised a total of $173,124; Burgess reported no contributions to the Federal Election Commission, indicating that he raised or spent less than $5,000. Michigan Congressman Sander Levin's Political Action Committee, GOALPAC, also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to help elect Hobbs, who was previously employed on Levin's congressional staff.
Lawrence won the Democratic Party nomination on August 5, 2014, despite being outspent. Lawrence won with 36% of the vote, Hobbs took 32%, Clarke 31% and Foster 1%. She took the most votes in Oakland County, carrying the cities of Southfield, Pontiac and Oak Park, as well as Royal Oak Township. Although it was expected that Clarke would convincingly win the portion of Detroit within the district, where he lives and had previously held public office, Lawrence was competitive in the city and won more votes than all other candidates from voters who cast their ballot on Election Day in Detroit.
As the Democratic nominee for Congress, she faced Republican nominee Christina Conyers of Detroit in the November general election. But Conyers withdrew from the race and Christina Barr of Pontiac was chosen as the Republican nominee. The district has a history of voting heavily for Democratic candidates. Also facing off against Lawrence in the November election was Libertarian Party nominee Leonard Schwartz of Oak Park and Green Party nominee Stephen Boyle of Detroit. Lawrence won with 78% of the vote, Barr took 20%, Schwartz 1% and Boyle 1%
Lawrence has been married to McArthur Lawrence for over 42 years. They were high school sweethearts, having met outside the Midway Market corner store where he worked on Detroit's east side. They bought their first home on Detroit's northwest side.
The couple has two children and a granddaughter, Asya.
Professionally, Lawrence worked for the federal government for 30 years in the United States Postal Service. She started as a letter carrier and later worked in human resources management; she retired in 2008.
- 2014 Election for Congress, Michigan 14
|Brenda L. Lawrence||78%|
- 2014 Democratic primary for Congress, Michigan 14
|Brenda L. Lawrence||36%|
- 2013 Election for Mayor of Southfield
|Brenda L. Lawrence||100%|
- 2012 Democratic primary for Congress, Michigan 14
|Brenda L. Lawrence||13%|
|Mary D. Waters||3%|
- 2010 Election for Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
|Brenda L. Lawrence||40%|
- 2009 Election for Mayor of Southfield
|Brenda L. Lawrence||77.6%|
- 2008 Election for Oakland County Executive
|L. Brooks Patterson||58.1%|
|Brenda L. Lawrence||41.6%|
- 2005 Election for Mayor of Southfield
|Brenda L. Lawrence||100%|
- 2001 Election for Mayor of Southfield
|Brenda L. Lawrence||52.6%|
- Detroit News, 6/3/2008, Lawrence embraces challenge as Southfield mayor takes on 'iconic' Patterson
- House Oversight Committee, 3/7/2008 Committee Holds Hearing on CEO Pay and the Mortgage Crisis
- Observer and Eccentric, 11/20/2008 Mayor speaks up for local auto suppliers
- Official Campaign Website
- Official Election Results Certified by the Southfield City Clerk
- Election Results Certified by the Oakland County Clerk
- Detroit Free Press, 8/27/2010 Bernero picks Brenda Lawrence as running mate
- "Southfield Mayor: Detroit, don't drop dead". Detroit News. January 23, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
- "It's official: Lawrence, Smith fend off challengers". Detroit Free Press. August 6, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
- Official Biography