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Sen. Mallory McMorrow gave fiery speech that lit up Twitter: What to know about her – Detroit Free Press

Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, at the Senate chambers on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

A five-minute speech on the Senate floor. A Twitter post, with a video clip. And overnight, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow of Royal Oak became a national sensation and a Democratic political opportunity.

In addition, McMorrow’s sudden celebrity also may help explain why politicians love using Twitter and why billionaire Elon Musk wants to buy it. He offered $43 billion and appears to be willing to pay more through a hostile takeover attempt.

Twitter can turbocharge any discussion and set the news media agenda.

The Michigan lawmaker took to the Senate floor to defend herself against a completely unfounded allegation from another legislator that she wants to “groom and sexualize kindergartners.”

McMorrow decried the political attack by Sen. Lana Theis, a Brighton Republican who made the accusation in a recent campaign fundraising email without evidence. 

More:Lana Theis offers no apology or evidence in response to Mallory McMorrow’s viral speech

McMorrow’s tweet quickly garnered more than 100,000 likes, and was viewed over 9 million times in less than 24 hours. Her Twitter following quadrupled and it put her on talk shows.

She was also retweeted by Hillary Clinton and other notables. 

A member of a suburban Detroit Facebook group posted the Free Press’ report, for example, noting that with redistricting, McMorrow could become the city’s next state senator.

She’s blowing up the internet. But aside from her fiery speech and being a white, suburban mom — a demographic that analysts say is vital to winning elections — who is McMorrow?

More:Michigan’s primary ballot may be ‘disaster’ for GOP candidates for governor, expert says

McMorrow, 35, was elected in 2018, defeating Republican incumbent Marty Knollenberg to represent District 13, which includes several Oakland County suburbs. 

She has a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from the University of Notre Dame and lives in Royal Oak with her husband, Ray, their daughter, Noa, and their rescue dog, Detroit.

She’s running for reelection

McMorrow’s LinkedIn profile touts that she’s “the youngest woman ever elected to the Michigan Senate,” and has “more than a decade of experience in product design, media, and advertising through her work with Mazda, Mattel, Gawker Media, Hearst, and other global brands.” 

She took office on Jan. 1, 2019, and her term ends on Jan. 1, 2023. 

She’s running for reelection in District 8, which overlaps with what was District 13.

She supports progressive issues 

According to the Run for Something PAC, McMorrow is an “advocate on some of the most critical issues of our time: fighting back against attacks on our democracy and elections, protecting women’s reproductive rights, and as a leading voice to end gun violence.”

The PAC also notes, she’s “one of the few Senators to ever give birth while in office,” and has “candidly shared her own struggles — including postpartum depression while taking leave — and has introduced legislation to make it easier for all moms to be empowered and supported in the workforce.”

Sexual harassment accusation

McMorrow filed a sexual harassment claim in 2020 against another state senator at the time — Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township — who was already facing investigation for remarks to a female Capitol reporter. 

Lucido, who is now Macomb County’s prosecutor, denied the accusation and suggested it was politically motivated.

McMorrow said Lucido made her feel uncomfortable during orientation for new senators at the Senate office building after the 2018 election. Lucido, she said, shook her hand and used his other hand to hold her lower back and graze her “upper rear.”

She wanted remote meetings

During the pandemic, McMorrow penned an opinion piece published in the Free Press. It urged the Legislature to take steps to meet remotely as a coronavirus precaution.

“If there was ever a time to develop and implement a contingency plan to allow the Legislature to function without gathering in-person, it’s now,” she wrote in 2020. “By not doing so, the Legislature is putting the lives of every Michigander at risk.”

She said her biggest fear wasn’t that she might contract the virus the next time she heads to Lansing, but rather that she would “already be carrying the virus without realizing, and that I might transfer it to a colleague who would unknowingly bring it home” and infect others.

She stood up to another lawmaker

A few more words about McMorrow’s Tuesday morning speech:

McMorrow denounced Theis’ attack.

McMorrow said: “I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom” who knows that the idea that learning about slavery and racism means that “children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense.”

She said she wants her daughter to be supported for “whoever she becomes” and people who are “different are not the reason our roads are in bad shape after decades of disinvestment, or health care costs are too high, or teachers are leaving the profession.”

She later went on MSNBC with Jonathan Capehart, who thanked her for her words, and on “Morning Joe,” hosted by former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, who asked if she had any second thoughts about giving her speech.

She told him she did not.

CNN, which had her as a guest on “Don Lemon Tonight,” called her speech a blistering rebuke. Lemon added the accusations against McMorrow are a “toxic smear” and praised her response. 

McMorrow said on the show it was important to respond to stand up for others.

Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or fwitsil@freepress.com.