State - Detroit U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick to seek 8th term Says son's travails are separate from her congressional race

By Mike Householder

Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) -- Democratic U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick officially launched her drive for an eighth term in Washington on Monday, shrugging off suggestions that her son -- the disgraced former Detroit mayor -- will be a drag on her re-election effort.

"Let's do this thing," Kilpatrick said to dozens of cheering supporters packed inside a Detroit union hall.

Kwame Kilpatrick was forced to resign in 2008 when he and his ex-top aide were charged with perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice after sexually explicit text messages revealed both had lied during a whistle-blowers' trial. The 39-year-old Kilpatrick served 99 days in jail and agreed to give up his law license. In addition he was ordered to repay the city $1 million and stay out of politics for five years.

Asked Monday whether she believed her son's legal problems would affect her campaign, Kilpatrick said it was "something you have to deal with, and I'll deal with it."

"I'll be running hard, I'll keep it a positive race and I'm praying for my son, and I hope that you guys will too," she told reporters. She said she would help raise money toward his restitution.

At the end of the month, Kwame Kilpatrick, who now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Southlake, Texas, will fly to his hometown and find out whether he's going back behind bars. A judge in April warned Kilpatrick to get his "affairs in order" after determining he had violated the terms of his probation.

The 64-year-old congresswoman said she is concerned for her son, but that she sees his travails as a separate issue from her congressional race.

"It's a distraction for (those who bring it up). It's not for me. It's a family thing. I'm a mother," she said.

When reporters continued asking questions about the former mayor, Kilpatrick became frustrated, saying, "I thought this was about my -- are we finished talking about (my son) -- the job I'm running for. If we are, thanks very much for coming."

As she did two years ago, Kilpatrick is expected to face a tough primary battle in the overwhelmingly Democratic 13th District, which includes parts of Detroit, the Grosse Pointes, River Rouge, Ecorse, Lincoln Park and Wyandotte.

Her primary challengers include state Sen. Hansen Clarke and Glenn Plummer, a businessman and pastor.

"As I have met with 13th Congressional District residents in town hall meetings, neighborhood visits and door-to-door campaigning, their frustration over our lack of jobs and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick's lack of vision has been overwhelming," Plummer said in a statement.

Plummer, 55, said he plans to file the necessary number of petition signatures Tuesday to officially file as a candidate.

A message seeking comment was left Monday with the Clarke campaign.

Kilpatrick squeaked by in the hard-fought 2008 Democratic primary, earning 21,000 votes, or 39 percent. Former state Rep. Mary Waters was only 1,700 votes behind, at 35 percent.

Regardless of who wins the Aug. 3 primary, the seat is nearly certain to remain in Democratic hands.

The last two Democrats who ran for president -- Barack Obama and John Kerry -- earned better than 80 percent of the vote in the district.

Lincoln Park Mayor Frank Vaslo was among several backers who spoke glowingly about Kilpatrick.

"Nothing in this state is more important than sending this woman back to Washington," he said at Monday's rally, citing Kilpatrick's work on the House Appropriations Committee and its benefits for the district.

In addition to remarks from Vaslo and others, a short video piece -- which included a testimonial from Michigan Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow -- was shown just before Kilpatrick took the stage.

As she walked to the podium, Kilpatrick wiped away tears before telling the crowd that "America is in shambles" and that she hoped voters will give her another term.

Kilpatrick said that in the days leading up to the announcement, she often was asked whether she would run again.

"Why wouldn't I run?" she said.

Published: Wed, May 12, 2010