Slotkin for Senate; MI-7 Opens

Three-term US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), as expected for weeks, formally announced that she will run for Michigan’s open Senate seat next year. 

In December, four-term incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she will retire at the end of this Congress. Rep. Slotkin, one of the more prolific fundraisers in the House, is already perceived as the favorite for the Democratic nomination and in the general election.

Though there was much activity among prospective candidates right after Sen. Stabenow announced that she would step down, only one elected official, Michigan School Board member Nikki Snyder (R), had declared her candidacy before Rep. Slotkin’s announcement.

While the Congresswoman has the inside track to the Democratic nomination and may not even face a significant intra-party opponent, several Republicans are still contemplating whether to enter the open election. Among them are ex-GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon, US Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland), and former Reps. Fred Upton, Mike Rogers, and Peter Meijer.

Prominent Michigan politicos who have said they will not run include Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D), Attorney General Dana Nessel (D), US Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham) and John James (R-Farmington Hills), and state Senate Majority Whip Mallory McMorrow (D-Oakland and Wayne Counties).

Before winning election to Congress, Ms. Slotkin was a CIA officer and a Defense Department official. She also served as a national security advisor in both Democratic and Republican administrations.

While the probable outcome of the Michigan Senate race is a close result favoring the Democratic nominee, Rep. Slotkin’s 7th District US House seat will likely fall into a different category. Originally, the Congresswoman was elected to the 8th CD, but the last redistricting process changed the district number to 7 and created a constituency that was 38 percent different.

In Rep. Slotkin’s three successful campaigns, she scored 50.6, 50.9, and 51.5% of the vote. This, while enjoying huge financial advantages. In her three races, she raised more than $26.2 million, or an average of $8.8 million per campaign. By contrast, her Republican opponents only secured a cumulative $13.7 million.

By all accounts, MI-7 must be rated as a battleground seat. It is one of only 20 districts nationally where the FiveThirtyEight and Dave’s Redistricting App data organizations disagree as to which party has the lean advantage. In those 20 districts where the two organization formulas are inconsistent, the 538 group was right 11 times in the 2022 election versus the nine districts where Dave’s App was closer to the final result.

In this instance, the 538 group scores MI-7 as R+4, while Dave’s App finds the historical split favoring the Democrats by a 49.2 – 47.7 calculation. The numbers from both firms do not include the 2022 election results.

The ‘22 Republican nominee was then-state Senator Tom Barrett. The 51.5 – 46.5 final result was certainly in the close range, but Mr. Barrett failed to reach even the typical Republican performance number under the Dave’s App more favorable Democratic calculation. Likely, this is due to Rep. Slotkin’s overall positive image within the constituency, and her overwhelming financial advantage. In an open seat race, however, these Slotkin advantages will probably not be as transferrable for the new Democratic nominee.

Mr. Barrett has indicated a willingness to run again in the open seat race, and considering he was unopposed for the nomination in 2022 must be considered the leading Republican candidate at least during this early part of the 2024 election cycle.

Democrats will likely see a crowded field forming. Already, the Lansing Mayor, Andy Schor, is being mentioned as a potential candidate, along with several state legislators and local county and city officials.

Though we are early in the cycle, we can count on this Michigan open seat being one of the key battleground House races of the 2024 election cycle.

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