Civil rights attorney Michael Griffie sees ‘real world’ experience as differentiating factor in crowded 13th Congressional race

Michael Griffie


Michigan has a long list of candidates seeking to represent the state’s 13th Congressional District, which includes much of Detroit, the Grosse Pointes and various communities Downriver.

Michael Griffie is one of them.

The civil rights lawyer has the endorsement of The Detroit News, State Representative Tyrone Carter and the Detroit Police Officers Association. Griffie spoke with WDET’s Eli Newman about his bid for Congress.

Michael Griffie: I’m the son of a school social worker and a special education teacher in Detroit public schools. 77 years of combined membership between the two of them. I followed in my dad’s footsteps and became a high school English teacher, went on to become a high school principal. While I was a principal, went to law school at night. And after I graduated law school and passed the bar, went on to work at one of Michigan’s largest law firms, Butzel Long, and currently, I’m a civil rights lawyer. And I’m running because I believe folks like us, the ones that actually have their feet on the ground doing the work should represent us in Washington, DC.

Eli Newman: What do you see as the needs for the 13th congressional district? What do you hope to represent when you take that seat?

Griffie: You know, the 13th district, I believe will be one of the most diverse districts in the United States. And I believe the biggest needs for this district is somebody that can bring the entire district together, so that this district can speak with one voice. I believe that such a person should have experienced throughout the district. I’ve been an assistant principal in Taylor, I’ve been a principal of a K-8 [school] in Hamtramck, I have worked downtown Detroit at a big law firm. I believe having the representation of the entire district is going to be a top priority.

The issues themselves, though I think are really specific. One thing folks want to know is who’s going to be a fighter for them, who’s going to fight for their ability to have the opportunity to vote. Right now, the January 6 hearings have unveiled an incredible amount of damaging evidence that shows that our democracy is as fragile as it’s ever been. And we have to make sure that we have somebody in Washington that’s willing to fight for and protect our right to vote.

Obviously, what happened a few weeks ago, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, one of the darkest days in American history, I believe we need a fighter that knows how to get in the fight. And I believe that’s going to take place in the judiciary committee. As a civil rights lawyer, I think I’m most qualified to be able to be selected as a member of that committee. That’s where the fight is going to be for women’s reproductive rights.

And then finally, we have to look at our seniors. We have to protect our senior’s Social Security. I’m for lifting the cap on Social Security tax. Somebody that makes $25,000, $30,000 a year their entire paycheck as it receives Social Security taxes, but somebody that makes over $150,000, they don’t have to pay Social Security tax on any amount over that. And I think that when we talk about keeping our promise to seniors, it means making the necessary decisions so that we can protect the social security of the promise that we’ve been given them.

Newman: In this race for the 13th, there’s a lot of candidates all vying for the same spot. What is it that you see as the thing that differentiates you from the rest of the crowd?

Griffie: I’ve been actually in our community doing the work. I didn’t fall off anybody’s political tree. I didn’t angle for this job my entire career. And instead, I’ve been a teacher, I’ve been a principal, I’ve been a lawyer. I’ve been in the real world. And I think that separates me first and foremost. The other thing I think voters need to really question is motivation. Why are any of these nine candidates running? And I’m going to tell you, I’m in it for the right reasons. I want to serve. I want to serve my community, I want to serve my country. And like I said, because I’ve been in the real world doing that doing the work of a teacher, of a principal, I think I’ve acquired the skills, not just the analytical skills to be able to turn bills into law, but effectually represent an entire incredibly diverse community.

View all of the 2022 primary election races happening August 2 at WDET’s Voter Information Center.

Photo Credit: Michael Griffie

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  • Eli Newman
    Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.