GOP’s DeShawn Wilkins Hopes to Stop Betty Jean Alexander’s Unlikely Trajectory Toward State Senate

“I’m the candidate who cares,” says Wilkins on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson.

Jake Neher/WDET

Last week, one of the more surprising results from the primary elections in Michigan was the Democratic contest in the 5th State Senate District, which includes northwest Detroit, Dearborn Heights, Inkster, Garden City and Redford Township.

For the past four years that seat was held by a rising star in the state’s Democratic Party — a former Marine and young progressive senator named David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights).

Normally incumbents don’t face tough primaries, and that seemed to be the case here. 

Knezek faced just one opponent who spent no money, has no professional record, and had no public presence or name in the district.

Yet Betty Jean Alexander won on primary night by about 3000 votes. And it turns out she was pushed into the race by Detroit’s own controversial and longtime political operative LaMar Lemmons.

Learn more about Michigan’s biggest political upset in recent memory here.

Over the weekend Betty Jean spoke for the first time, though Lemmons has still spoken for her more often than not — and it’s clear Betty Jean Alexander has little or no concept or understanding of the world she’s attempting to work in, or how to tackle the massive issues our region faces.

There is one person still in the race for the 5th state Senate district who has a comprehensive understanding of political issues, has a fully formed campaign and campaign website, and is integrally involved with the community as a Pentecostal pastor. DeShawn Wilkins just also happens to be a Republican.

Can a Republican really make a strong play to win this part of the region?

Wilkins joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about his candidacy and that question.

“I’ve always believed in competition,” says Wilkins, who points to his background as a small business owner. 

On what sets him apart from Alexander — other than party affiliation — Wilkins says one of the most important differences is the fact that he’s been campaigning for months.

“I’m sure Ms. Alexander is a great lady,” he says. “But… I’ve been out there campaigning…I was knocking on the doors, I’ve been to the candidate forums…Ms. Alexander hasn’t been out there. I’m the candidate who cares”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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