Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee won’t seek reelection next year, opening up a potentially competitive House seat.
Kildee, who was first elected in 2012, said he had been planning another campaign, but a cancer diagnosis earlier this year led him to “reassess” his plans. Kildee announced in April that he had a successful surgery and said Thursday he is cancer-free.
“After spending time with my wife, children and grandchildren and contemplating our future, the time has come for me to step back from public office,” he said in a statement. “Running for office, ultimately, is a personal decision first. And this was not an easy decision to make. But I know it’s the right one for me and for my family.”
Kildee is the 12th House member to announce plans not to run for reelection next year. Another 16 are running for other offices, one resigned and will be replaced later this month, and one plans to resign in February.
A member of the Ways and Means and Budget committees, Kildee became known for his work on water infrastructure after drinking water in his hometown, Flint, was found to be contaminated with lead.
He worked with Rep Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., to form a congressional task force that works to address the urgent public health threat of per-and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS), often referred to as “forever chemicals.” He also joined with other lawmakers to urge EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan to expedite a departmental survey of lead lines in the nation’s water pipes, which they said would allow them to better allocate funds for fiscal 2023 to replace lead pipes.
In 2021, he spoke about his trauma from that year’s Jan. 6 Capitol riot, when he was among a group of members trapped in the House gallery while protestors sought to enter the House floor.
“Seeing a colleague come forward, I know I sort of surprised some people because I know almost everybody, I get along with everybody. I’m an easygoing person, and I think the expectation was that I wouldn’t have any difficulty,” he told CQ Roll Call a few months after the attack. “But my experience up in that gallery was not good.”
He is a co-chair of the House Democratic Steering Committee.
Kildee said he was “confident” Michigan would vote to reelect President Joe Biden and elect a Democrat to succeed him and that he would do “everything I can to help elect common sense, principled and results-oriented leaders.”
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated the race for Michigan’s 8th District as “Likely Democratic” before Kildee’s announcement, but changed it to Tilt Democratic after his retirement. Biden would have won the district by 2 points in 2020. Kildee won his 2022 race by 10 points.
Republicans added Michigan’s 8th District to their list of open seats the party is hoping to flip, which also includes the state’s 7th District, which is open because Rep. Elissa Slotkin is running for Senate.
“Democrats are in shambles as their list of swing-district Democrats who are racing for the exits continues to grow. Republicans are looking forward to flipping this seat red,” Mike Marinella, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement.
Republican Martin Blank, a trauma surgeon who served in the Army and Army Reserve, launched a campaign for the seat last month. Åfter retiring from the Army Reserve in 2015 as a colonel, Blank attended the policy academy and became a deputy sheriff. He’s now a full-time police officer in Saginaw, Mich., according to his campaign.
In 2022, Kildee defeated Republican Paul Junge, a former television anchor and Citizenship and Immigration Services staffer, by 10 points. Junge had previously run against Slotkin in 2020. Kildee won a sixth term, which extended his family’s hold on the seat, as his uncle, former Rep. Dale Kildee, preceded him in the House and served for 36 years.