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Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin announces Senate run in Michigan

The U.S. House member and former CIA analyst is seen by many top Democrats as a formidable contender in a key battleground

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) asks a question during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol in November. (Mariam Zuhaib/AP)
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Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin announced her candidacy Monday for U.S. Senate in Michigan, entering a race regarded as a key battleground in the fight for control of the upper chamber of Congress in 2024.

Slotkin’s Senate run was widely anticipated after Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) stunned Michigan Democrats last month with her decision not to seek reelection. In recent weeks, Slotkin has had private conversations with Democrats around the state to gauge and build support for her bid. Most prominent Democrats in the state have decided not to run, making Slotkin the early front-runner.

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“We need a new generation of leaders that thinks differently, works harder and never forgets that we are public servants,” Slotkin says in a nearly three-minute biographical ad announcing her campaign.

The 46-year-old former CIA analyst is seen by many top Democrats as a formidable contender with a proven record of winning in competitive House districts. She won her first election in 2018, motivated like many women that year to seek office in repudiation of President Donald Trump. She has positioned herself as a moderate, rejecting positions and rhetoric adopted by the far left while championing Democratic principles such as abortion rights and a ban on assault weapons.

“We all know America is going through something right now, we seem to be living crisis to crisis,” Slotkin says in a campaign video before laying out a broad agenda that includes strengthening the middle class and increasing manufacturing in America.

She doesn’t explicitly mention abortion or guns in the ad, but when she references protecting children, it’s over a clip of Slotkin speaking at a news conference after the Feb. 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University that killed three students.

“Look, our country is going to get through this,” she says. “It’s hard work, but that’s what Michiganders do.”

Other well-known figures in the state, such as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has a residence in Michigan, have said they will not run for Senate. Recently, Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens ruled out running, as did state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, who received national attention last year for a viral speech chastising a Republican colleague who had falsely accused her of wanting to sexually groom children.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has signaled that she’s unlikely to run, but hasn’t ruled it out.

In an interview with The Washington Post last month, former congresswoman Brenda Lawrence said she is looking for a “strong African American to run.” If she doesn’t find one, Lawrence, who is Black, said she’d consider running herself. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who is Black, has also ruled out running.

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No prominent Republicans have entered the race. GOP Rep. John James announced last week that he wouldn’t be seeking the open Senate seat. Other Republicans whose names have been floated include former congressman Fred Upton, who retired last year, former congressman Peter Meijer, who lost his House primary after voting to impeach Trump, and the party’s 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee, Tudor Dixon.

The Michigan GOP is broke and struggling after losing power statewide for the first time since the 1980s. Party activists recently elected as their chair Kristina Karamo, who embraced the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump and refused to concede her own 14-point loss in her 2022 race for secretary of state.