Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin announced the morning of Feb. 27 she would be running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Michigan following current Sen. Debbie Stabenow's retirement.
Slotkin is currently the congresswoman for Michigan's 7th Congressional District, which includes Michigan State University's campus. The race for her House seat in 2022, which she won over state Sen. Tom Barrett, was one of the most highly publicized and expensive races throughout the country.
In her announcement video, Slotkin touted her career as an intelligence officer for the CIA, the Department of Defense and discussed her mother's cancer diagnosis.
Slotkin, who represents thousands of MSU students, said in the announcement that it felt like America was living through constant crises. In this section she said there are things "that should be really simple."
"Like protecting our children from the things that are truly harming them," Slotkin said, with the announcement video showing images of Slotkin giving speeches at gun violence protests in the wake of the mass shooting that happened at MSU's campus on Feb. 13.
So far, Slotkin is the only high-profile candidate and only Democrat to get into the race. Nikki Snyder, R-Dexter, a member of the State Board of Education, has declared her candidacy for the seat.
Many political consultants and strategists have viewed Slotkin as the potential frontrunner for Stabenow's soon-to-be vacant seat.
Co-chair of the Progressive Policy Alliance at MSU and international relations senior Noah Scudder said when he heard Stabenow would be stepping down, that it came as somber news for him.
He said Stabenow has a legacy of genuinely caring about Michigan and being a senator for more than “merely [getting] on the news and [getting] sound bites at committee hearings,” being influential for women in Michigan politics. Scudder is hopeful that there can be a strong leader who succeeds Stabenow’s efforts.
Law Democrats of MSU President and law student Thomas Carr said that while giving up incumbency is a big deal in the competitive race that 2024 will be, Stabenow said she wanted to support a new generation of women leaders.
Carr said he welcomes this due to Michigan Democrats’ deep bench that could supply a new legacy that will succeed Stabenow and clocked Slotkin as the politician that could achieve Stabenow’s notability.
“The fact that she's a woman candidate, replacing the Debbie Stabenow seat would be huge for a woman in Michigan politics…Stabenow kind of took her under her wing,” Carr said. “Slotkin is Stabenow’s rep for Stabenow’s House district…so I think it would be a smooth transition from Debbie Stabenow’s legacy to Elissa Slotkin.”
College Democrats Secretary and political science sophomore Zach Nessel said he believes the candidate who would be a good fit for the Senate seat should be a smart political operative and “electable.”
Nessel felt Slotkin made sense because he said she has been in tough fights and reasonable policymaking. He said Slotkin would fit the bill he and his group are looking to see run for the seat.
For Carr, he said with Slotkin’s picking up votes in traditionally red areas and competitive districts that she would be a candidate that could create change in Washington D.C.
“I think what makes Elissa Slotkin such a good candidate is she seems to be very interested in governing, which is not something you could say about all of our members of Congress unfortunately,” Carr said. “She's very in the nitty gritty of legislating and actually passing bills.”
Scudder hopes to see her platform change once she attains that stability in the Senate.
“I do think she'll have a little bit more flexibility to ease and soar progressive policies since she does represent statewide Michigan,” Scudder said. “But…that has yet to be seen… Bipartisanship is very important to Elissa Slotkin. She's emphasized that many times throughout her campaigns, so I think that might be something that progressive members are looking towards in this campaign to see where she advocates for our main issues and what we can expect to see out of a possible Senator Slotkin.”
While the race is a year away, Scudder said he would like for more of a progressive candidate to run for the seat instead, wanting to see a representative that shares the same values as many of the younger people in Michigan.
“Slotkin is a fantastic representative and her background in intelligence and national security is admirable, but she doesn't share quite the same progressive ideologies and beliefs that say a state senator like Mallory McMorrow,” Scudder said.
Carr also brought up the possibility of state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, running as well. McMorrow, since Carr and Scudder were interviewed, announced on social media she would not seek the seat when it opens up in 2024.
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Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist also announced on social media he would not be seeking the seat.
Nessel does not believe a Republican senator could be successful because Michigan has not elected a Republican for Senate since 2001. He also said the last election cycle was a large blue wave for Michigan and with a presidential election in the future for 2024, Michigan usually votes bluer than in midterm elections.
Nessel said he thinks the Michigan Republican Party will not be successful because of how long it's been since Michigan elected a Republican to the Senate. The last Michigan Republican to be elected to the Senate was Sen. Spencer Abraham, who was elected in 1994.
He also said the Michigan GOP is "in shambles."
Carr said that the reputation for Republicans has been poor after their nomination of Tudor Dixon for governor. Carr said for Republicans to have a shot at the Senate win, they would need inflation to stay high and nominate former Rep. Peter Meijer of the Michigan Third Congressional district because Meijer is more moderate.
However, Carr said Slotkin has proven she can win against both Republican campaigns and their fundraising efforts.
City Editor Dan Netter contributed to this report.
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