August 4, 2010

Democratic Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick became the fourth House incumbent this year to lose a seat in an intra-party battle, losing 47 percent to 41 percent to state Sen. Hansen Clarke.

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The seven-term congresswoman’s loss marks the end of a House career that in recent years came to be defined by her steadfast defense of her son, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was forced out of office amid legal troubles and sentenced to prison. The former mayor, who filled the state House seat once held by his mother before going on to serve six years as mayor, was recently indicted on 19 charges of mail and wire fraud.

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The congresswoman’s support for the former mayor was a key issue in a three-way Democratic primary in 2008, when state Rep. Mary Waters ran an ad featuring footage of the congresswoman imploring her son’s supporters to “fight” for her while charges against the then-mayor rolled down screen.

Kilpatrick’s slim 39 percent showing in the 2008 primary was enough to carry her to victory over splintered Democratic opposition but revealed her political vulnerability and provided an opening for Clarke.

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