Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI-9th) speaks to the Pakistan American Caucus.
This Sunday witnessed what was likely the best ever Muslim political rally in Michigan history.
The Pakistan American Caucus, Michigan Democratic Party, hosted numerous Democratic candidates at a boisterous, well organized, and well-attended forum at the Troy Community Center from 3PM to 7PM. Present was an audience of about 400, and candidates and elected officials who numbered about 40.
The Pakistani American Caucus is headed by directors Abid Jamil and Abid Khan. The prominent radio personality Faiz Khan is a member of its Executive Committee and served in a prominent role at the function Sunday.
The Pakistan American Caucusâ€™s theme for the event was â€œCome and Help Democrats Win in November 2014â€ and in response the Democratic political candidates thronged for support in votes, money, volunteers and a chance to practice their stump speeches in preparation for the November contest.
Many of those who spoke gave excellent and interesting speeches, but the tenor of the event was an upbeat and partisan Democratic campaign rally, attempting to gather support and momentum in the face of a relatively ominous election cycle.
2014 is expected to show marked gains for Republicans, especially in Federal congressional races. The landscape for Democrats in Michigan is fairly bleak, with Republicans holding both legislatures and the governorâ€™s mansion, and also other prominent posts including attorney general and secretary of state positions. No real shift is expected in this status quo this election season, although the fortunes of individual candidates may be better than the overall Democratic ticket.
Lon Johnson, the Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, explained what changes the MDP has made and is making in order to win more seats in elections–and the focus of this change is on building turnout during off-year elections such as this 2014 cycle. He also emphasized that the Democratic party is more embracing and open and less exclusive by comparison with the Republicans.
Two prominent people in attendance, even by comparison with the other august people, were Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Professor Mark Totten.
Michigan State University professor and Yale Law alum Mark Totten is vying for the Michigan attorney general position, although he is polling nine points behind incumbent Republican Bill Schuette–in speaking he emphasized his impressive school and work record, and in the current race he emphasized what he called Schuetteâ€™s extremism in relation to immigration and healthcare.
Michiganâ€™s violent term-limits are forcing churning in congress–this will result in the loss of Rashida Tlaib from the Michigan House of Representatives–Tlaib is forced to run against an entrenched incumbent Democrat for entry into the Michigan Senate.
The Democrats who spoke mostly echoed old populist themes of fighting for the middle class against a Republican party which has become the mouthpiece of those with money who wish to use their money and power to buy the ability to obtain more money and power through control of the political process.
A few of the candidates gave tailor-made speeches which visibly struck the hearts of those listening. There were many â€œSalaam aleikumsâ€ from the politicians, and even one â€œBismillahir Rahman ir Rahimâ€ from Anil Kumar.
Dr. Anil Kumar caught the hearts of those in attendance by saying â€œI speak your language, I eat your food, I wear your clothes–I am you!â€
Another message universally proclaimed by all those who spoke was–â€Get involved.â€ Whoever you support, make sure your voice is heard.
The candidate who likely made the biggest splash was Harvey Santana–â€œBe relevant in this process,â€ he said. â€œIf you donâ€™t vote, you donâ€™t matter. If you donâ€™t get out there and do something, you donâ€™t matter.â€ â€œI donâ€™t want to come all the way here from Lansing next time to tell you the same thing.â€
Some of the prominent people in attendance were:
US Congressman Sandy Levin Lon Johnson, MDP Chair Council General of Pakistan, Faisal Tirmizi County Commissioner Kalamazoo Nasim Ansari Brenda Lawrence, Mayor Southfield, MI State Senator Steve Bieda State senator Coleman Young II State Rep Rudy Hobbs State Rep Henry Yanez State Rep Sam Singh State Rep Rashida Tlaib State Rep Dian Slavens State Rep Harvey Santana
For Attorney General, Mark Totten For US Congress Pam Byrnes For US Congress, BobbY McKenzie For US Congress, Rudy Hobbs For US Congress, Anil Kumar For US congress, Nancy Skinners For US congress , Henson Clark For State Senate, Dian Slavens For state senate, Rashida Tlaib For state senate, Vicky Barnett For State Rep, Natalie Mosher For State Rep, Kristy Paigan For State Rep, Stephanie Chang For state rep, Tony Trupiano For state rep, Nicole Brown For State rep, Mary Kerwin For State Rep, Michael Saari Other Guests: Ramesh Verma, Treasurer, MDP Tej B. Jhamb, Chair Indo American Caucus Mahendra Kenkre, Chair, Troy Democratic Club Iqbal Faiz, Chair, Bangladeshi American Caucus Kevin Hrit, Campaign manager, Gary Peters Other MDP Officials
Pakistani American Caucus Board of Directors:
Faiz M. Khan, Chair Shariq S. Sajjad Syed Akhlaq Hussain Muhammad Zahid Abid Khan Haroon Siddiqui Nizamuddin Mohammad Sarwat Iqbal