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Democrat Haley Stevens wins in Michigan’s 11th district
Republican Lena Epstein, left, and Democrat Haley Stevens. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Democrat Haley Stevens defeated Republican Lena Epstein to win a seat representing Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, according to the Associated Press.

Stevens’s victory indicated a shift back in favor of Democrats after 2016, when Donald Trump eked out a win in the state. Trump won the 11th Congressional District by a wider margin of 4 points.

Both Epstein and Stevens were political newcomers in their 30s who had stepped up to vie for a seat vacated by retiring Republican congressman Dave Trott in the Detroit suburbs.

Heading into Election Day, a RealClearPolitics average of polls showed Stevens with a slight edge over Epstein.

On key issues, the two candidates were a study in contrasts. Stevens campaigned on a platform that included advocating for “common sense gun laws” and “standing up to Donald Trump.”

Epstein was formerly co-chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign in Michigan. She last year announced she would challenge four-term U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) but pulled out of that race to run for Congress instead.

Epstein was widely criticized last week after it was reported she had invited Loren Jacobs, a rabbi who practices Messianic Judaism, to pray with Vice President Pence at a Michigan rally to honor the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. Messianic Jews believe Jesus is the Messiah, and major Jewish denominations consider those followers to be Christian.

In a Twitter post after the rally, Epstein lashed out at media and critics for questioning her decision to invite Jacobs.

“This was an effort of unity, yet some are trying to create needless division to suit their political goals,” Epstein wrote. ” . . . I am proud of my faith and look forward to serving as the only Jewish Republican woman in Congress.”

Midterm election updates: Reaction and results

Democrats took the House, Republicans held the Senate, and key races around the country were still too close to call.

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