Democrat Elissa Slotkin enters race for Michigan’s open US Senate seat

Jewish congresswoman, who has touted herself as a pragmatist representing a Trump-voting district, becomes first candidate to announce she’ll seek seat in battleground state

US President Joe Biden hands one of the pens he used for signing the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 to Michigan Representative Elissa Slotkin, May 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
US President Joe Biden hands one of the pens he used for signing the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 to Michigan Representative Elissa Slotkin, May 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

LANSING, Michigan — Democratic Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan will seek the US Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Debbie Stabenow in 2024, becoming the first high-profile candidate to jump into the battleground state race.

In a video announcing her campaign, Slotkin says that the nation seems “to be living crisis to crisis” but that there “are certain things that should be really simple, like living a middle-class life in the state that invented the middle class.”

“This is why I’m running for the United States Senate,” Slotkin says in the video released Monday morning. “We need a new generation of leaders that thinks differently, works harder and never forgets that we are public servants.”

Slotkin, a 46-year-old Jewish former CIA intelligence officer and third-term representative, is coming off an impressive victory in last year’s midterms, winning reelection despite having been considered vulnerable. Her contest against Republican state Senator Tom Barrett was the third-most expensive House race in 2022.

She is the first Democrat to announce her intentions to run for a seat that will be crucial to the party’s efforts to maintain control of the Senate, where it holds a 51-49 majority. The only other candidate in the race so far is Republican Nikki Snyder, a State Board of Education member.

Slotkin, first elected to Congress in 2018 when she flipped a traditionally Republican district, has consistently won close races in the battleground state and has proved herself to be an effective fundraiser.

House Homeland Security Committee member Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., asks a question during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on ‘Worldwide Threats to the Homeland,’ at the Capitol in Washington, November 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

After narrowly winning reelection in 2020, she was targeted by Republicans in last year’s midterms after new congressional maps divided her home district. She was forced to run in Michigan’s new 7th Congressional District, where she was a new face for about a third of the district’s voters, many in rural GOP-leaning counties north of Lansing.

Throughout the campaign, Slotkin touted herself as a Democrat representing a Trump-voting district, emphasizing to voters her pragmatism and highlighting her role on the House’s bipartisan Problem-Solvers Caucus.

She has represented two congressional districts that experienced mass shootings, and she has called for stronger gun laws. Now a congresswoman for the Lansing area, she represents an area that includes Michigan State University, where a gunman killed three people and injured five others this month. She previously represented Oxford, where a school shooter killed four students and injured seven others at Oxford High School in 2021.

The dean of Michigan Democrats, the 72-year-old Stabenow shocked many in the party when she announced last month that she would not be seeking a fifth term, saying she had “decided to pass the torch” to a new generation of leaders.

Slotkin was immediately named as a favorite to replace the outgoing senator and began forming a national campaign team, telling the AP in January that she was putting her “ducks in a row” before an announcement.

With Michigan having one of the deepest Democratic benches in the country, many expected the primary to be highly competitive. But in the days leading up to Slotkin’s announcement, multiple high-profile candidates withdrew their names from consideration.

“Serving our state in Washington, DC would be a great opportunity, but instead I will keep standing tall for Michigan, right here at home,” Democratic Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II said on social media on Sunday.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, left, talks with Rep. Elissa Slotkin, January 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Also on the Democratic side, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has been discussed as a potential candidate. State Senator Mallory McMorrow, a rising star in the party, said last week that she would not run for the Senate.

Former representative Peter Meijer, who lost his Republican primary last year after voting to impeach president Donald Trump in 2021, is still considering a GOP run for the seat.

Republicans have taken just one of Michigan’s last 15 Senate races, winning an open seat in 1994.

Most Popular
read more: