Rashida Tlaib

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Rashida Tlaib
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 6th district
12th district (2009–2012)
In office
January 1, 2009 – December 31, 2014
Preceded by Steve Tobocman
Succeeded by Stephanie Chang
Personal details
Born Rashida Harbi
(1976-07-24) July 24, 1976 (age 42)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Democratic
  • Fayez Tlaib
    (m. 1998; div. 2015)
Children 2
Education Wayne State University (BA)
Thomas M. Cooley Law School (JD)

Rashida Harbi Tlaib[1] (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 (map), 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 American woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature, and the second Muslim woman in history to be elected to any U.S. state legislature.[2]

In 2018, Tlaib won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives seat from Michigan's 13th congressional district. She is unopposed in the general election and is expected to become the first Muslim woman in Congress and the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress.[3][4] She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

The eldest of 14 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.[6]

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.[7][8]

Michigan House of Representatives[edit]

In 2008, Tobocman encouraged Tlaib to run for his seat, which he would be vacating due to term limits. The urban district is 40% Hispanic, 25% African-American, 30% 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.[9]

In 2010, Tlaib faced a primary election challenge from Jim Czachorowski in his first bid for office.[10] 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 10 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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13]

Tlaib finished second in the Democratic primary to Brenda Jones, President of the Detroit City Council, receiving 31,084 votes, or 35.9%.[14]

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.[15] She received 27,803 votes, or 31.2%. She will be unopposed in November and will become the first Muslim woman in Congress and the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress.[3][4] She will be entering Congress as a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.[16]

Political positions[edit]


Talib, 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 ICE,[17] and supports the right of illegal immigrants to remain in the United States.[19]

Israel and the Palestinians[edit]

Tlaib opposes US military aid to Israel, supports a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Palestinian right of return, and backs activists of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.[20][21] During the election campaign, however, she 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. Her change in position from supporting a two-state solution back to supporting a one-state solution led J Street to withdraw its support for Tlaib.[22][23] She was also condemned by several sources for her defense of the 1969 PFLP bombings perpetrator Rasmea Odeh.[24][25]

Personal life[edit]

In 1998, at the age of 22, Rashida Harbi married Fayez Tlaib. They have two sons, Adam and Yousif. They have since divorced. In 2018, a campaign spokesperson called Tlaib a single mother.[26]

On August 8, 2016, Tlaib attended a speech by then-presidential nominee Donald Trump at Cobo Center and asked him to return a Purple Heart given to him earlier in the week by Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman, stating that Trump had not earned the medal. Tlaib was then ejected from the venue.[27]

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 2018-08-08. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ a b Astead W. Herndon, Rashida Tlaib, With Primary Win, Is Poised to Become First Muslim Woman in Congress, New York Times (August 8, 2018).
  4. ^ a b "With primary win, Rashida Tlaib set to become first Palestinian-American congresswoman - U.S. News". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 2018-08-08. 
  5. ^ "There Will Now Likely Be Two Democratic Socialists of America Members in Congress". The Daily Beast. 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2018-08-08. 
  6. ^ "Metro Detroit". Detroit Free Press. 2008-12-14. Retrieved 2014-02-12. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Dem would be first Muslim woman in Congress, if elected". Detroit News. February 6, 2018. Retrieved August 26, 2018. 
  8. ^ Holcomb, Anne (November 6, 2008). "Rashida Tlaib is first Muslim woman to be elected to Michigan Legislature". MLive.com. Retrieved August 26, 2018. 
  9. ^ "Protected Blog". [dead link]
  10. ^ Meyer, Nick (August 6, 2010). "Snyder, Bernero to face off in November". Arab American News. Retrieved August 26, 2018. 
  11. ^ "Rashida Tlaib, First Muslim Woman to Become a Michigan State Representative". Findingdulcinea.com. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  12. ^ O'Brien, Maeve (March 15, 2018). "24 hours with: Rashida Tlaib, potential first Muslim congresswoman". Michigan Daily. 
  13. ^ Spangler, Todd (July 16, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib, Bill Wild lead fundraising in Detroit's congressional race". Detroit Free Press. 
  14. ^ "Michigan House District 13 Special Primary Election Results". The New York Times. August 7, 2018. 
  15. ^ "Michigan Primary Election Results: 13th House District". Retrieved 2018-08-08. 
  16. ^ Resnick, Gideon (August 8, 2018). "There Will Now Likely Be Two Democratic Socialists of America Members in Congress". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 8, 2018. 
  17. ^ a b Robinson, Derek (10 August 2018). "Rashida Tlaib Is the Left's Way Forward". Politico. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  18. ^ Kelly, Erin (8 August 2018). "Six things about Rashida Tlaib, who will likely become first Muslim woman in Congress". USA Today. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  19. ^ a b Diaz, Elizabeth (14 August 2018). "For Rashida Tlaib, Palestinian Heritage Infuses a Detroit Sense of Community". New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  20. ^ Panne, Valerie Vande (August 14, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib on Democratic Socialism and Why She Supports the Palestinian Right of Return". In These Times. Retrieved August 26, 2018. 
  21. ^ Kampeas, Ron (21 August 2018). "Is Rashida Tlaib, a candidate who believes in a one-state solution, the future of the Democratic Party?". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  22. ^ Sommer, Alison Kaplan (16 August 2018). "From Two States to One: Michigan's Rashida Tlaib Shifts Position on Israel". Haaretz. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  23. ^ JTA (2018-08-15). "Jewish Democratic Group Slams Michigan Candidate's Vow To Cut Israeli Military Aid". The Forward. Retrieved 2018-08-21. 
  24. ^ Dillon, Kassy (2018-08-08). "Socialist Trump Heckler On Track To Become Congresswoman". Daily Wire. Retrieved 2018-08-21. 
  25. ^ Bandler, Aaron (2018-08-08). "Palestinian Congressional Candidate Has Made A Litany of Anti-Israel Statements". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2018-08-21. 
  26. ^ Prengel, Kate (2018-08-08). "Rashida Tlaib: Is She Married? Is She Divorced? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  27. ^ "Women behind protest at Donald Trump's Detroit speech explain motivations". Ann Arbor News. August 10, 2016. 

External links[edit]