Descendant of refugees could help flip Michigan blue


President Barack Obama says Mari Manoogian represents 'what's best in the American spirit.'

Republican control in Michigan could come to a very abrupt, very blue halt in November.

Democrats need to gain a net of nine seats in the state House to regain control for the first time since 2010, and Mari Manoogian, the descendent of Armenian refugees, is working to make that happen.

Manoogian is running in an open House seat in a traditionally conservative area of Oakland County. The seat was previously held by a Republican, but Manoogian, who grew up in the area and graduated from the local Seaholm High School, is working to flip the seat from red to blue.

In a year when national elections are often the focus, Manoogian has managed to break through as one of the Democrats' brightest local rising stars.

It's not just her background: great-granddaughter of refugees who fled the Armenian genocide and daughter of a local union president. Even during college, Manoogian knew a life of public service was in her future. She snagged an internship with John D. Dingell, a well-respected longtime Michigan congressman at the time, and after graduation went on to work at the State Department.

But while her experience may be global, Manoogian's heart lies in her community. And her dedication to improving her local community has earned her the endorsement of quite a few eye-popping names.

President Barack Obama endorsed Manoogian, saying she represents "what's best in the American spirit." He goes on to say that Manoogian is "running to expand opportunity for all of us and to restore the dignity, honor, and compassion that should be the essence of public service."

In addition to President Obama, Manoogian is endorsed by Moms Demand Action, a group dedicated to gun safety issues. After a string of national gun violence tragedies — from Parkland, Florida, to Las Vegas, Nevada — gun safety is at the top of mind for many voters.

"Whether it’s preventing gun violence, or making sure we have clean drinking water, or we fix our dangerous roads, know that you can count on me to be your voice in Lansing when it comes to keeping our community safe," Manoogian says.

Outside of the national spotlight, Manoogian earned the endorsement of a slew of local groups as well. Michigan teachers, through the AFT union, back her, as do unions for firefighters, police officers, the local UAW, and many others.

Whereas her Republican opponent, David Wolkinson, has praised the divisive and unpopular Trump, Mari Manoogian says she will fight for everyone in her community. And in the process, she could help turn Michigan's House blue for the first time in almost a decade.