Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D)
Elected: 1996, 7th term.
Born: June 25, 1945, Detroit .
Education: Ferris St. U., 1965, W. MI U., B.S. 1972, U. of MI, M.S. 1977.
Religion: African Methodist Episcopal.
Family: Divorced; 2 children.
Elected office: MI House of Reps., 1978–96.
Professional Career: Teacher, Detroit public schls., 1970–78.
The congresswoman from the 13th District is Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, a Democrat first elected in 1996 and the mother of the disgraced Detroit mayor. She was born and raised in Detroit, attended Ferris State University and graduated from Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan. She taught business education in Detroit public schools before being elected to the state House in 1978. She lost a race for the Detroit City Council, but won the 1996 Democratic primary for the congressional seat by a solid 51%-31% against her one-time political partner, incumbent Rep. Barbara-Rose Collins.
|Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D)||167,481||(74%)||($1,066,838)|
|Edward Gubics (R)||43,098||(19%)|
|George Corsetti (Green)||9,579||(4%)|
|Gregory Creswell (Lib)||5,764||(3%)|
|Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D)||21,089||(39%)|
|Mary Waters (D)||19,303||(35%)|
|Martha Scott (D)||13,471||(25%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (100%), 2004 (78%), 2002 (92%), 2000 (89%), 1998 (87%), 1996 (88%)
Kilpatrick, whose voting record once was among the most liberal in the House, has moderated slightly. She made a point of visiting the suburbs in her district, meeting local officials and assigning her staff to work with them—a contrast to Collins. She worked with others to successfully derail the proposed land swap that would have allowed two new Indian casinos to compete with those in Detroit. On the Appropriations Committee, she has taken credit for funding Detroit-area transportation projects and water and sewage facilities. She spurred the creation of the Detroit Area Regional Transportation Authority as a first step to increased national support for funding for the system. Her other focus on Appropriations has been increased foreign aid for countries in Africa, including additional hundreds of millions of dollars to combat the AIDS crisis overseas.
In January 2007, in the House majority for the first time, Kilpatrick took over as chair of the 43-member Congressional Black Caucus. She used that platform to speak out against the war in Iraq and to call for stepped-up recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina, and for assurances that the 2010 census count would be complete. She clashed with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2007 over the removal of Rep. William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, from the Ways and Means Committee following his indictment on corruption charges.
In the midst of her son’s legal problems, Kilpatrick faced a major campaign challenge that she barely survived. Her re-election became largely a referendum on her son the mayor, who at that time had not resigned. Her chief opponent in the primary, former Democratic state Rep. Mary Waters, harshly criticized Kilpatrick for “injecting herself” into the upheaval in city politics with her adamant defense of her son. In a broadcast debate, Kilpatrick replied derisively: “Girl, please. You can’t even carry my bra.” She benefited from campaign help from Pelosi, who appeared in suburban locales for her, and from Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat.
Kilpatrick won the August 2008 primary with 39% of the vote to 36% for Waters and 25% for state Sen. Martha Scott. She ran more strongly in the city, where she got nearly half the vote. In a two-way contest, Kilpatrick probably would have lost. Waters said that she might run again in 2010.