- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2008

DETROIT | Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the six-term lawmaker who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, claimed victory in a fierce battle to win her Democratic primary bid in Detroit early Wednesday, leading her closest opponent, former state Rep. Mary Waters, by about 1,000 votes with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

Mrs. Kilpatrick, waging the political battle of her life, declared herself the winner just after midnight with absentee votes remaining to be counted in the states most-watched primary race.

I will be your congresswoman, Mrs. Kilpatrick told cheering supporters early Wednesday morning.

“A close race, down to the wire, only one winner. Thanks. I accept,” she said.

Miss Waters, however, said the race was too close to call and she refused to concede until all votes had been tallied.

“This was a David-versus-Goliath-type of campaign,” she said.

Miss Waters had led the incumbent congresswoman most of Tuesday evening, garnering significant support in suburban communities outside of the inner city of Detroit.

Although underfunded, Miss Waters waged an aggressive campaign, lashing out at the congresswoman in scathing ads that tied her to the political scandal involving her son, two-term Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is facing criminal charges in a police whistleblower case that included sexually explicit text messages he exchanged with his former aide.

“The reason she got challenged on that was her own doing,” Miss Waters said before the election Tuesday. “If she had not been out publicly defending his behavior, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

Mrs. Kilpatrick polled close to 40 percent of the vote, despite being an incumbent. She raised more than $700,000 to about $15,000 for Miss Waters who has experience in the Michigan statehouse but ran a largely grassroots race.

Miss Waters really didnt have campaign dollars, volunteers or organization to be effective, said Detroit political consultant Eric Foster of the Urban Consulting Group. What she has been able to get, to be in the fight, was the significant anti-Kilpatrick sentiment.

A third primary challenger, state Sen. Martha Scott, divided the anti-incumbents, earning about 25 percent of the vote. That likely hurt Miss Waters chances in a close race, Mr. Foster said.

Turnout in the City of Detroit was light for the election with about 8.4 percent of registered voters casting ballots. About 10 percent of Wayne County voters went to the polls, election officials said. The congresswoman led Mrs. Waters with voters in the inner city but Mrs. Waters had the edge in other areas of the district with absentee ballots not yet counted.

A plurality is needed to win the primary in Michigan politics and the winner of the Congressional race moves on in the general election in November.

In other Midwest races, U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof won the GOP nomination for governor in Missouri, defeating state Treasurer Sarah Steelman.

In Kansas, former U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun was behind his opponent, State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, early Wednesday in his attempt to claim the Republican nomination in the states 2nd District, a seat he held for five terms. The winner will face incumbent Democrat Nancy Boyda, who ousted Mr. Ryun two years ago.

In Georgia, longtime state lawmaker Jim Martin beat DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones to earn the Democratic partys nod for the U.S. Senate. Mr. Martin will face incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss in November.

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