Elissa Slotkin launches U.S. Senate Campaign
Congresswoman seeks to part of 'a new generation of leaders'
When I opened the newspaper’s email last Monday, among the postings was the announcement that U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin was running for the U.S. Senate in 2024, adding that her agenda would be centered on “growing and strengthening Michigan’s middle class.”
In the news release, she said: “There are certain things that should be really simple – like living a middle class life in the state that invented the middle class; like making things in America, so that we’re in control of our own economic security; like protecting our children from the things that are truly harming them; and preserving our rights and our democracy so that our kids can live their version of the American Dream.
“”This is why I’m running for the United States Senate,” she continued. “We need a new generation of leaders that thinks differently, works harder, and never forgets that we are public servants.”
Slotkin is seeking to replace fellow Democrat Debbie Stabenow who, a few weeks earlier, had dropped an unexpected shoe with the announcement that she would be leaving the Senate at the end of her current term. Almost immediately after ‘the shoe hit the floor’ speculation began on the leading candidates for this now soon-to-be vacant Senate seat. Slotkin was included in that list, with many calling her a frontrunner among the Democrats.
She had just been re-elected to her third term in the House, winning a hard-fought contest in the 7th Congressional District located in mid-Michigan. This new district includes both Livingston and Ingham Counties (my home territory), as did the 8th District she’d previously represented.
Several of the possible candidates from both major parties quickly took their names off the list, narrowing the potential field.
So, it was not a surprise to learn she had launched her U.S. Senate campaign—or that it came sooner rather than later. As to what led her to this decision , I have no inside information. However, I’ll offer these considerations.
First of all, U.S. Senate seats don’t’ become vacant that often. Given that situation, it can well be a case of ‘now or never.’ Also, while she won her last election by nearly six percentage points, given the competitive make-up of the 7th District changing circumstances might well alter this outcome. With House seat up for grabs every two years, she’d effectively be campaigning on a continuous basis. Which has to be a tiring prospect.
In addition, running for a statewide office in Michigan as a Democrat is currently a good bet. In the recent November General Election, the top elective offices—governor-lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general—were once again won by that party’s nominees, as were its candidates for the state board of education, and the university board seats.
Conversely, the Michigan Republican Party appears to be in disarray. That’s not my judgment, but one that’s been given by longtime party officials in published news stories and by media columnists who are otherwise supportive of the state GOP. The party establishment has been pushed aside and the donors who typically bankroll operations reportedly are not writing checks.
A few of my own observations…
Her governing style has been that of a moderate who works at addressing the real-life needs of her constituents. To that end, she joined the Problem Solvers Caucus—a bipartisan group in the House that works at finding legislative solutions through compromise and consensus and often introduces bills with both a Republican and Democrat co-sponsor from the group.
This style, thus far, has proven to be attractive to voters as she’s been able to draw independents as well as convince a few Republican voters to split their tickets. This is a virtue that would bode well in a statewide race.
She also has bona fide foreign policy credentials, mainly in the military area, having been a former CIA officer and top Pentagon official. In the latter capacity, Slotkin served under both the George W. Bush and Barak Obama administrations.
Maintaining affordable health care and strengthening domestic manufacturing have been two of her main priorities, in addition to other issues and policies she worked on. These are two issues that are important to many Michigan voters.
Since raising ‘big’ money is a key to running a creditable Senate campaign, she has a proven track record in that regard. All three of her House contests proved to be expensive affairs, with the last one reportedly the “most expensive House race in the nation.” And, if there was any question of her ability to accomplish such fundraising on a larger stage, the answer came when over a million dollars was donated within 24 hours after her launch.
Finally, like Senator Stabenow, Slotkin seems to have an appetite for public service and a willingness to do the hard work of being an effective legislator—a pair of traits that many voters can sense in both them and why they have been attractive (and successful) candidates. Admittedly, no one runs for higher office—or any office for that matter—without a degree of ambition. But without the passion and commitment, without a measure of ‘service above self,’ the would-be office-seeker can come across as an empty façade.
As for what lies ahead… well, as they say, time will tell.
At present, no other ‘name’ Democrats have appeared to be making any moves that would suggest we’ll have a competitive primary.
On the Republican side, the name of former Congressman Mike Rogers has been bandied about in the last couple of days. As many folks know, he was from Brighton (Livingston County) and represented the 8th District for 14 years—from 2001-2015. He then left office to pursue other career objectives.
While the state GOP might be in disarray, it remains a viable force. The establishment Republicans—which I’d suggest Rogers would qualify as—can easily bypass the current party apparatus to champion certain candidates and causes and the well-heeled donors can do likewise. As such, the party nominee could well have the needed know-how and financing.
But at present, Slotkin has the spotlight.
* * *
ON A SIDE NOTE, almost on the heels of the Congresswoman’s announcement, her opponent in last year’s 7th Congressional District race —Tom Barrett—proclaimed his intention to run for that office once again. And nearly as quickly, speculation began on who the leading Democratic contenders might be.
The political handicappers, meanwhile, have rated the now soon-to-be vacant House seat as a toss-up.
And so it goes.
* * *
Steve Horton is a mid-Michigan journalist and editor-publisher of the Fowlerville News & Views—a weekly newspaper.
* * *
I mentioned in my last post that some readers had decided to support this column with paid subscriptions. To accept the contributions, I activated this option. Substack makes its money by taking a small portion of each subscription, hence their eagerness to promote paying subscribers.
At present, both paid and free subscribers get the same column. I may add a perk at a future date to reward the former, but right now I’m busy enough putting out the newspaper along with this column, and doing my best to enjoy my leisure time. I don’t wish to add another task to the pile. If you receive a solicitation, then think of Horton’s Michigan Notebook as being like public radio—you can contribute if you wish (and with my thanks)… or not (but still with my gratitude that you’ve taken the time to read my offering). In other words, I don’t mind the money but I also like the attention.
Great overview of Rep Slotkin's potential and the race. thank you.