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Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick

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Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byBarbara-Rose Collins
Succeeded byHansen Clarke
Constituency15th district (1997–2003)
13th district (2003–2011)
Member of the
Michigan House of Representatives
In office
January 1, 1979 – January 1, 1997
Preceded byJackie Vaughn III
Succeeded byKwame Kilpatrick
Constituency18th district (1979–1982)
8th district (1983–1992)
9th district (1993–1996)
Personal details
Carolyn Jean Cheeks

(1945-06-25) June 25, 1945 (age 79)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseBernard Kilpatrick
Children2, including Kwame
EducationFerris State University
Western Michigan University (BS)
University of Michigan (MS)

Carolyn Jean Cheeks Kilpatrick (born June 25, 1945) is a former American politician who was U.S. Representative for Michigan's 13th congressional district from 1997 to 2011. She is a member of the Democratic Party. In August 2010 she lost the Democratic primary election to Hansen Clarke, who replaced her in January 2011 after winning the 2010 general election.[1][2][3] Kilpatrick is also the mother of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Born Carolyn Jean Cheeks in Detroit, she graduated from Detroit High School of Commerce. She then attended Ferris State University in Big Rapids from 1968 to 1970 and earned a B.S. from Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo) in 1972. She earned a M.S. from the University of Michigan in 1977. She worked as a high school teacher and was later a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 1979 to 1996.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus and other membership[edit]

She was one of the 31 House Democrats who voted not to count the 20 electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.[4] Republican President George Bush won the state by 118,457 votes.[5]

On December 6, 2006, the Congressional Black Caucus unanimously chose Kilpatrick as its chairwoman for the 110th Congress (2007-8).

On September 29, 2008, she voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. [1]

Political campaigns[edit]

In 1996, Kilpatrick challenged three-term incumbent Barbara-Rose Collins in the 1996 Democratic primary for what was then the 15th District. She defeated Collins by a shocking margin, taking 51.6 percent of the vote to Collins' 30.6 percent. This was tantamount to election in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district. She was reelected six times, never dropping below 80 percent of the vote. Her district was renumbered as the 13th District after the 2000 Census. She faced no major-party opposition in 2004 and was completely unopposed in 2006.


Her first serious opposition came during the 2008 primary—the real contest in this district—when she was challenged by both former State Representative Mary D. Waters and State Senator Martha Scott in the Democratic primary. Kilpatrick's campaign was plagued by the controversy surrounding her son and his involvement in a text messaging sex scandal. On the August 5 primary election, Kilpatrick won with 39.1 percent of the vote, compared to Waters' 36 percent and Scott's 24 percent.


In 2010, she was again challenged in the Democratic primary. Unlike in 2008, her opposition coalesced around State Senator Hansen Clarke, who defeated her in the August 3 primary. “This is the final curtain: the ending of the Kilpatrick dynasty,” said Detroit political consultant Eric Foster of Foster, McCollum, White and Assoc. [6] NPR and CBS News both noted that throughout her re-election campaign, she was dogged by questions about her son, Kwame Kilpatrick, who is in prison on numerous corruption charges.[7][8] Michigan Live reported that her election defeat could in part be attributed to the Kwame Kilpatrick scandals.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Kilpatrick was married to Bernard Nathaniel Kilpatrick, with whom she has daughter Ayanna and son Kwame Kilpatrick, a former Mayor of Detroit. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick divorced Bernard Kilparick in 1981. She has six grandsons including two sets of twins and two granddaughters. Both her former husband and son were on trial, under an 89-page felony indictment. On March 11, 2013, her son was found guilty on 24 of 30 federal charges and her former spouse was found guilty on 1 of 4 federal charges.[10]

  • She is a member of the Detroit Substance Abuse Advisory Council.
  • She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority

Electoral history[edit]

Michigan's 13th congressional district general election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (inc.) 167,481 74.13
Republican Edward J. Gubics 43,098 19.08
Green George L. Corsetti 9,579 4.24
Libertarian Gregory Creswell 5,764 2.55
Total votes 225,922 100.00
Michigan's 13th district Democratic primary, August 3, 2010[11]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Hansen Clarke 22,573 47.32
Democratic Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (incumbent) 19,507 40.89
Democratic Glenn Plummer 2,038 4.27
Democratic John Broad 1,872 3.92
Democratic Vincent Brown 893 1.87
Democratic Stephen Hume 820 1.72
Total votes 47,703 100.00

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zeleny, Jeff (August 4, 2010). "Kilpatrick Loses Democratic Primary". The Caucus.
  2. ^ "Meet Freshmen Reps.-Elect Allen West & Hansen Clarke - CBS News Video". CBS News.
  3. ^ "13th District Representative in Congress 2 Year Term (1) Position Files In WAYNE County". Michigan Department of State. March 2, 2011. Archived from the original on January 29, 2014. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  4. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 7: On Agreeing to the Objection". U.S. House of Representatives. January 6, 2005. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  5. ^ Salvato, Albert (December 29, 2004). "Ohio Recount Gives a Smaller Margin to Bush". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Clarke upsets Cheeks Kilpatrick in key race; end of a political dynasty?". Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved August 4, 2010.
  7. ^ Kwame Kilpatrick's Woes Tinge Mother's Campaign : NPR
  8. ^ "Michigan Election Results Mean End of Kilpatrick Era – Political Hotsheet – CBS News". CBS News.
  9. ^ MLive.com, Sheena Harrison (August 4, 2010). "Kwame Kilpatrick's legal troubles play into Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick's defeat". mlive.
  10. ^ "Kwame Kilpatrick, four others arraigned - UPI.com". UPI.
  11. ^ "13th District Representative in Congress 2 Year Term (1) Position Files In WAYNE County". Michigan Department of State. October 6, 2010. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2014.

External links[edit]

Michigan House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 18th district

Succeeded by
Sidney Ouwinga
Preceded by Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 8th district

Succeeded by
Ilona Varga
Preceded by
Chester Wozniak
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 9th district

Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 13th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative