by Kate Scanlon, Reporter | January 14, 2022 11:56 AM
Shanelle Jackson, a former Michigan legislator, will challenge Rep. Rashida Tlaib in the Democratic primary for the redrawn 12th Congressional District, arguing her pro-business policies and support for Israel set her apart from the far-left congresswoman.
Jackson told Jewish Insider, “I’ve been rallying the troops.”
“I think there’s a great opportunity there,” Jackson said, adding she plans to launch her campaign in February.
Michigan’s independent redistricting commission released in December a set of maps reflecting the state’s new congressional boundaries after it lost a seat due to comparatively slow population growth. The new maps lead to some shuffling among state lawmakers, including Tlaib, who represents the 13th District but decided to seek a third term in the new 12th District. The district map is being challenged in a lawsuit that alleges the new boundaries disenfranchise black voters.
Jackson, a Detroit native, was a state representative from 2007 to 2012. She has since worked in various government relations and private-sector roles. Jackson unsuccessfully ran against Tlaib in a primary in the 13th District in 2018, but she argued the new map creates an opportunity for her to fare better. The new 12th District includes the Livonia area, which is more conservative, and the Dearborn area, which is home to the largest Arab American population in the United States.
“I think right now is the moment,” Jackson said. “It’s almost palpable in the city of Detroit and in this region: Black women are stepping up in leadership. We’re hungry to have our voice in the room and at the table.”
In the interview announcing her candidacy, Jackson drew a contrast between her “pro-business” and pro-Isreal polices, which she said were in sharp contrast to her opponent. Tlaib, whose parents were Palestinian immigrants, once called Israel an apartheid state during remarks on the House floor, sparking accusations of antisemitism.
“I think we’ll be very different, obviously, in our approaches,” Jackson said. “I don’t hate banks.”
“I don’t hate subprime lenders,” she added. “I know, as an African American that has been poor and has been better, that we need all options on the table and that our situation is nuanced.”
Jackson said she has a “strong reverence” for Israel and the U.S.’s relationship with its ally.
“When she gets that mic in front of her, she goes crazy and goes to many extremes,” Jackson said of Tlaib. “I really feel like it’s now or never as it pertains to being able to sort of shut her down and calm down some of the antisemitic rhetoric.”
“Just saying it real plain, I believe that the United States and Israel are sisters, and I can’t imagine living in a world where our nation didn’t have Israel’s back,” she continued. “It’s heartbreaking, to be honest with you, to have Rep. Tlaib not even wanting to explore that path.”
Jackson accused Tlaib of “carrying the water of Palestine in all that she does.”
“Meanwhile, Detroiters, we don’t have a voice,” she said. “It’s just the truth.”
Tlaib and Jackson are the only candidates who have declared intentions to run in the new district so far. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic, so the primary is the real ticket to get to Congress.
“I think she is definitely in for a challenge,” Jackson said. “The district is right for that.”