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Rep. Joe Tate Makes History as First Black Lawmaker to Lead Michigan’s House

November 11, 2022

Jordyn Hermani
Nov. 11, 2022

Democratic state Rep. Joe Tate made history Thursday after he was selected to lead the Michigan House of Representatives in the upcoming 102nd Legislature as the first Black person ever to do so.

Tate, D-Detroit, is additionally not only the first Black lawmaker to become speaker of the House but the first Black lawmaker to ever oversee either of Michigan’s legislative chambers.

His change in role wasn’t the only piece of history Democrats made Thursday, Nov. 10. Senate Democrats, who held their elections earlier that same day, also made history in electing Sen. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, as the first woman to ever hold the position of Senate majority leader in state history.

Brinks and Tate’s ascension to leadership positions comes on the heels of Democrats’ momentous win in the midterms Tuesday, Nov. 8, when they swept the legislature, governorship, secretary of state and attorney general races while keeping their majority on the State Board of Education and Michigan Supreme Court.

It’s the first time in roughly four decades that Democrats have held a power trifecta at the state level.

Following the vote, Tate told reporters that Michiganders could expect forward motion on issues like health care, gun safety regulations, transparency in the legislature, education and worker’s rights.

“First and foremost, we’re going to get started immediately,” he said. “I think you saw the message that we talked about, our values, over the campaign trail for most of the year. … So, there won’t be any surprises, because we’ve been talking about Democratic values for years.”

Tate was first elected to state office in 2018 after garnering 73% percent of the vote in the 2nd House district. He was overwhelmingly reelected under new maps to Michigan’s 10th House district with 68.4% of the vote to his Republican opponent’s 31.6%.

Tate previously was an offensive lineman in the NFL, splitting time between the Jacksonville Jaguars, the St. Louis Rams and the Atlanta Falcons over his two years in the league. Following his pro football career, Tate enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy.

He also possesses a Master’s in Business Administration and a Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Planning from the University of Michigan, as well as a Master of Science in Kinesiology from Michigan State University. Tate first graduated from MSU in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy.

Tate currently serves as the minority vice chair on both the House Appropriations Committee and the House Fiscal Agency Governing

As the incoming speaker, Tate said that bipartisanship would remain a priority and that there would be “no secrets or surprises here, in terms of once we have our agenda and collective vision together.”

While the rest of the Democratic leadership staff has yet to be tapped, Tate also announced that Rep. Abraham Aiyash, D-Hamtramck, will serve as next term’s majority floor leader in the House. In doing so, Aiyash also makes history in being the first Arab or Muslim individual to serve as a majority leader in Michigan’s legislative history.

Tate’s Republican counterpart was also elected Thursday with Rep. Matt Hall, R-Comstock Township, tapped to become the next House minority leader.

A graduate of Western Michigan University and WMU’s Cooley Law School, Hall previously worked with the Department of Attorney General and served as a constitutional attorney. He additionally worked in the private sector for a combat vehicle propulsion manufacturer, as noted on his personal website.

Hall was first elected in 2018 as well, nabbing 56% of the vote in Michigan’s 63rd House district. His reelection in the 42nd House district, under new maps, came with him having garnered 55% of the vote to his Democratic opponent’s 45%.

With Republicans currently overseeing the lower chamber, Hall chairs the House Tax Policy Committee and sits on both the Insurance Committee and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

Hall, in a statement following his election, said that Michiganders are going through “tough times right now” and that strong leadership at the Capitol was necessary to work on “lowering inflation and increasing jobs.”

“Those are issues we’ve been working on since we came to Lansing, and they are going to stay priorities for this Republican caucus next year,” he said. “I’m proud to have the trust of my colleagues and of this chamber, and I look forward to leading that effort and delivering solutions for Michigan families over the next two years.”