Rashida Tlaib

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Rashida Tlaib
Rashida Tlaib at Islamic Society of North America.jpg
Member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 13th district
Assuming office
January 3, 2019
SucceedingBrenda Jones (Elect)
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 6th district
12th district (2009–2012)
In office
January 1, 2009 – December 31, 2014
Preceded bySteve Tobocman
Succeeded byStephanie Chang
Personal details
BornRashida Harbi
(1976-07-24) July 24, 1976 (age 42)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Fayez Tlaib
(m. 1998; div. 2015)
EducationWayne State University (BA)
Thomas M. Cooley Law School (JD)

Rashida Harbi Tlaib[1] (tah-LEEB,[2] born July 24, 1976) is an American politician and attorney. She is a Democratic former member of the Michigan House of Representatives. Until term-limited out, she represented the 6th District, which is in Southwest Detroit and stretches from an area just south of Downtown to the city's southern border, and west to the city of Dearborn. Upon taking office on January 1, 2009, Tlaib became the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature, and the first Muslim woman in history to be elected to any U.S. state legislature.[3]

In 2018, Tlaib won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives seat from Michigan's 13th congressional district. She ran unopposed in the general election and became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, alongside Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress.[4][5] She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

The eldest of fourteen children, Rashida Harbi was born on July 24, 1976, to working-class Palestinian immigrants in Detroit. Her mother was born in Beit Ur El Foka, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Her father was born in Beit Hanina, a neighborhood in Jerusalem. He moved first to Nicaragua, then to Detroit, where he worked on an assembly line in a Ford Motor Company plant. As the oldest, Tlaib played a role in raising her siblings while her parents worked but sometimes relied on welfare for support.[7]

Rashida Tlaib attended elementary school at Harms, Bennett Elementary and Phoenix Academy. She graduated from Southwestern High School in Detroit in 1994, and from Wayne State University with a B.A. in political science in 1998. She earned a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2004.[citation needed]

Earlier political career[edit]

Tlaib began her political career in 2004, when she took an internship with State Representative Steve Tobocman. When Tobocman became Majority Floor Leader in 2007, he recruited Tlaib to be on his staff.[8][9]

Michigan House of Representatives[edit]

In 2008, Tobocman encouraged Tlaib to run for his seat, which he was vacating due to term limits. The urban district is 40% Hispanic, 25% African-American, 30% non-Hispanic white, and 2% Arab American. Tlaib faced a crowded primary that included several Latinos, including former State Representative Belda Garza. Tlaib emerged victorious, carrying 44% of the vote in the eight-way Democratic primary. The 12th District is overwhelmingly Democratic, and Tlaib won the general election with over 90% of the vote.[10]

In 2010, Tlaib faced a primary election challenge from Jim Czachorowski in his first bid for office.[11] Tlaib picked up 85% of the vote, to Czachorowski's 15%. Tlaib also won the general election with 92% of the vote against Republican challenger Darrin Daigle.

In 2012 Tlaib won reelection to the Michigan House in the newly redrawn 6th District against fellow incumbent Maureen Stapleton. She could not run again in 2014 because of term limits.

During her tenure as a legislator, Tlaib was one of ten Muslims serving in state legislatures across the United States. She is the second Muslim to serve in the Michigan State House of Representatives, after James Karoub. Tlaib is the second Muslim woman to serve in a state legislature nationwide, after Jamilah Nasheed of Missouri.[12] She and Justin Amash, a Republican who was also elected in 2008, were the first two Palestinian-American members of the Michigan legislature.

After leaving the state legislature, Tlaib worked at Sugar Law Center, a Detroit nonprofit that provides free legal representation for workers.[13]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2018 Special Election

In 2018, Tlaib announced her intention to run for John Conyers's seat in Congress. As of July 16, 2018, she had raised $893,030 in funds, more than her five opponents in the August 7 Democratic primary.[14]

Tlaib finished second in the Democratic primary to Brenda Jones, President of the Detroit City Council, receiving 31,084 votes, or 35.9%.[15]

2018 general election

Tlaib announced her intention to run to succeed Conyers in the November 6 general elections. She defeated Brenda Jones, President of the Detroit City Council and Bill Wild, Mayor of Westland, among others.[16] She received 27,803 votes, or 31.2%. She ran unopposed in November 2018 and became the one of the first two Muslim women in Congress along with Ilhan Omar, and the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress.[4]

Political positions[edit]


Tlaib, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, aligns politically with the left wing of the Democratic Party.[17][18]

Domestic policy[edit]

She supports domestic reforms including Medicare For All and a $15 minimum wage.[19]


She was a strong, early supporter of the movement to abolish I.C.E.,[17]

Israel and Palestine[edit]

Tlaib has voiced support for a two-state solution as well as "aid to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, particularly to fund initiatives that foster peace", as stated on her J Street page. But in an August 2018 interview she said she opposed providing aid to a “Netanyahu Israel” and supported the Palestinian right of return and a one-state solution. As a result, J Street withdrew its endorsement of her candidacy in the 2018 elections for United States Congress.[20][21]

Trump Administration[edit]

Tlaib is critical of the Trump administration. In August 2016, a military veteran who supported then presidential nominee Donald Trump gave Trump his Purple Heart and Trump responded, "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier." Trump did not serve; he received multiple student deferments and a medical deferment for a bone spur. His comment drew considerable criticism nationwide. On August 8, 2016, Tlaib attended a speech Trump gave at Cobo Center and asked him to return the Purple Heart, saying that Trump had not earned the medal. Tlaib was then ejected from the venue.[22]

Personal life[edit]

In 1998, at the age of 22, Tlaib married Fayez Tlaib. They have two sons, Adam and Yousif. They have since divorced. In 2018, a campaign spokesperson called Tlaib a single mother.[23]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 2008 campaign for State House
    • Rashida Tlaib (D), 90%
    • Darrin Daigle (R), 10%
  • 2008 campaign for State House, Democratic Primary
    • Rashida Tlaib (D), 44%
    • Carl Ramsey (D), 26%
    • Belda Garza (D), 9%
    • Daniel Solano (D), 7%
    • Lisa Randon (D), 7%
    • Denise Hearn (D), 5%
    • Rochelle Smith (D), 1%
    • Nellie Saenz (D), 1%
  • 2010 campaign for State House, Democratic Primary
    • Rashida Tlaib (D), 85%
    • Jim Czachorowski (D), 15%
  • 2010 campaign for State House
    • Rashida Tlaib (D), 92%
    • Darrin Daigle (R), 8%
Democratic primary results, Michigan's 13th congressional district special election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brenda Jones 32,727 37.7
Democratic Rashida Tlaib 31,084 35.9
Democratic Bill Wild 13,152 15.2
Democratic Ian Conyers 9,740 11.2
Total votes 86,703 100.0
Democratic primary results, United States House of Representatives elections in Michigan, 2018 § District 13
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Rashida Tlaib 27,803 31.2
Democratic Brenda Jones 26,916 30.2
Democratic Bill Wild 12,589 14.1
Democratic Coleman Young II 11,162 12.5
Democratic Ian Conyers 5,861 6.6
Democratic Shanelle Jackson 4,848 5.3
Total votes 89,179 100.0


  1. ^ "Member Profile". State Bar of Michigan. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  2. ^ Spangler, Todd (September 9, 2018). "How Detroit's Rashida Tlaib will make history in Washington". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  3. ^ Schallhorn, Kaitlyn (August 8, 2018). "Meet Rashida Tlaib, who is poised to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress". Fox News. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Herndon, Astead W. (August 8, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib, With Primary Win, Is Poised to Become First Muslim Woman in Congress". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "With primary win, Rashida Tlaib set to become first Palestinian-American congresswoman". Haaretz. August 8, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  6. ^ "There Will Now Likely Be Two Democratic Socialists of America Members in Congress". The Daily Beast. August 8, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  7. ^ Warikoo, Niraj (December 14, 2008). "Disparate backgrounds source of bond". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  8. ^ "Dem would be first Muslim woman in Congress, if elected". The Detroit News. February 6, 2018. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  9. ^ Holcomb, Anne (November 6, 2008). "Rashida Tlaib is first Muslim woman to be elected to Michigan Legislature". MLive.com. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  10. ^ "Protected Blog". Feet in 2 Worlds. The New School. August 8, 2008. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  11. ^ Meyer, Nick (August 6, 2010). "Snyder, Bernero to face off in November". The Arab American News. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  12. ^ Coats, Christopher (December 28, 2008). "Rashida Tlaib, First Muslim Woman to Become a Michigan State Representative". Findingdulcinea.com. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  13. ^ O'Brien, Maeve (March 15, 2018). "24 hours with: Rashida Tlaib, potential first Muslim congresswoman". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  14. ^ Spangler, Todd (July 16, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib, Bill Wild lead fundraising in Detroit's congressional race". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  15. ^ "Michigan House District 13 Special Primary Election Results". The New York Times. August 7, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  16. ^ "Michigan Primary Election Results: 13th House District". Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Robinson, Derek (August 10, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib Is the Left's Way Forward". Politico. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  18. ^ Kelly, Erin (August 8, 2018). "Six things about Rashida Tlaib, who will likely become first Muslim woman in Congress". USA Today. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  19. ^ Diaz, Elizabeth (August 14, 2018). "For Rashida Tlaib, Palestinian Heritage Infuses a Detroit Sense of Community". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  20. ^ Vande Panne, Valerie (14 August 2018). "Rashida Tlaib on Democratic Socialism and Why She Supports the Palestinian Right of Return". In These Times. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  21. ^ Fractenberg, Ben (17 August 2018). "J Street Retracts Endorsement Of Female Muslim". The Forward. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  22. ^ "Women behind protest at Donald Trump's Detroit speech explain motivations". Ann Arbor News. August 10, 2016.
  23. ^ Prengel, Kate (August 8, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib: Is She Married? Is She Divorced? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. Retrieved August 9, 2018.

External links[edit]