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Rep. Elissa Slotkin running for Michigan Senate seat

Democratic former CIA analyst first won battleground House seat in 2018

Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin is running for the Senate seat that Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow is giving up.
Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin is running for the Senate seat that Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow is giving up. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected 8:48 p.m. | Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s decision to run for Senate gives Democrats a battle-tested candidate in a key swing-state race while leaving open a competitive House seat that could flip to the GOP.

“We all know America is going through something right now. We seem to be living crisis to crisis, but there are certain things that should be really simple,” Slotkin, 46, said in a video announcing her run Monday morning. “We need a new generation of leaders that thinks differently, works harder and never forgets that we are public servants.”

Slotkin has used her past experience as a CIA analyst to focus on national security issues since she joined Congress in 2019. She also has emphasized health care issues. In her announcement video Monday she spoke of her mother, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer while she didn’t have health insurance and filed for bankruptcy.  

Sen. Debbie Stabenow decided in December not to run again next year, and Republicans view the Michigan seat as a pickup opportunity although the state hasn’t had a Republican in the Senate since 2001. 

Elissa Slotkin is a liberal politician with some serious ethical baggage,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Maggie Abboud said in a statement. 

Slotkin ended 2022 with $129,000 on hand after an expensive 2022 race in which she raised $10 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. 

She was one of seven freshman Democrats who in 2019 called for President Donald Trump’s impeachment in a Washington Post op-ed that preceded the first effort by the House to oust the Republican chief executive. 

Slotkin is the first major candidate to enter the race. Rep. Haley Stevens previously said she would not run, while fellow Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell has not ruled out a run. Two Republicans have already said they are running: Nikki Snyder, who is a member of the state Board of Education, and Michael Hoover, a political newcomer.

Former Rep. Peter Meijer is another potential candidate, but Republican Rep. John James — who lost two previous bids for Senate before winning a House seat in November — has filed for reelection to the House.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Gary Peters, Michigan’s junior senator, told CQ Roll Call earlier this month that it was too early to say whether the committee would get involved in the state’s primary. But he noted the DSCC did not do so under his leadership in the 2022 cycle.

Slotkin’s decision to run for Senate will also open up a competitive House race in the 7th District, which President Joe Biden won by 0.5 percentage points in 2020. 

Former state Sen. Tom Barrett, who challenged Slotkin last year, “has received very strong encouragement from throughout Michigan to run for the 7th District in 2024 and is putting together plans to do so,” Jason Roe, a campaign strategist for Barrett, confirmed to CQ Roll Call. 

Barrett raised $2.8 million for his 2022 bid, which he lost by 5.4 points. Slotkin partially attributed her win, which was a larger margin than in her previous two victories, to young voters at Michigan State University who registered on Election Day and were motivated by abortion rights.

Having already run once, Barrett could benefit from having greater name recognition and an existing donor base. He ran unopposed in the GOP primary last year.

“The path to growing the Republican majority runs through seats like Elissa Slotkin’s,” Jack Pandol, the National Republican Congressional Committee communications director, said in a statement. “Democrats are scrambling for the exits in Hakeem Jeffries’ extreme House Caucus, and this latest development makes their climb out of the minority that much steeper.”

This report was corrected to accurately reflect Slotkin’s call in 2019 for Trump’s impeachment and that she joined six other freshmen in that move.

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