LANSING, Mich. (MIRS News) – Democrats will have a majority of members in the Michigan Congressional delegation in 2023 with attorney Hillary Scholten winning in MI-3 over Donald Trump-endorsed John Gibbs and both Democratic incumbents winning in the face of stiff competition.
In the 7th and 8th districts, current U.S. Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D) and Dan Kildee (D-Flint) fended off aggressive challenges from current Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) and Paul Junge respectively.
And in the 10th, Republican John James, who outspent his opponent, Carl Marlinga, by nearly $2.4 million, according to statistics from AdImpact, a commercial ad tracking company that tracks ads on TV, digital and streaming devices, was up by 7,206 votes, but with Eastpointe left to report. In 2018, U.S. Rep. Andy LEVIN defeated his Republican opponent by 7,125 votes.
The hotly contested congressional seats, which MIRS followed throughout the election season, were the 3rd, 7th, 8th and 10th districts.
The remaining nine congressional seats went as expected with the incumbents winning their respective seats and Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) successfully winning his first congressional term.
3rd U.S. House District
Scholten, a Grand Rapids immigration attorney, becomes the first Democrat since 1974 and the Watergate-era to win a congressional seat based in Grand Rapids.
She received high-level endorsements from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MASS) and both The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.
She took advantage of running for this West Michigan seat when it became favorable to Dems after redistricting put Kent County and Muskegon County under the same umbrella.
With the inclusion of Muskegon, a region that President Joe BIDEN won handily by 9% over former President Donald TRUMP in 2020, the seat became a toss-up.
However, the race shifted to a lean Democratic seat when Gibbs upset U.S. Rep. Peter MEIJER (R) in an election likely decided by Meijer vote to impeach Trump.
“Hillary Scholten embodies the tenacity and commitment needed to serve in during a time when Americans’ rights are being threatened by anti-choice extremism, fear-based rhetoric and injustice of all kinds,” said EMILY’s List President Laphonza BUTLER. “Her work dedicated to championing civil rights and focus on supporting all of Michigan’s families will serve her well.”
Scholten eclipsed Gibbs in contributions, outraising him by $2.2 million with $1.5 million of that coming in between July 14 to Sept. 30, according to campaign finance reports. She also significantly outspent him by $2.5 million.
However, when total advertising dollars spent, which includes groups such as the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), are added up, the two sides spent almost the same amount with Scholten & Co. up $6.41 million to $6.12 million, according to AdImpact.
7th U.S. House District
Attack ads against voting records and a “no exceptions” stance for abortions abounded across the airwaves in the final weeks of the Slotkin/Barrett race, with Democrat Slotkin riding a big turnout in Ingham County to defeat Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte).
Republicans attempted to frame Slotkin as having an alleged 100% voting record with President Joe BIDEN, which is misleading in the sense that the President isn’t weighing in on every vote taken in the U.S. House.
Democrats targeted Barrett’s opposition of government subsidies to support the area’s auto industry. They noted that without the money, the jobs likely would have gone elsewhere. Barrett said the government money spent on the jobs wasn’t a wise use of the taxpayers’ money.
Both candidates came from military backgrounds, Slotkin was a CIA official and Barrett a U.S. Army helicopter pilot.
At a combined $36.6 million spent, MI-7 was the most expensive race in the state and among the most expensive in the country. Slotkin and Barrett were in a dead heat a mere five days before people headed to the polls on Nov. 8.
A survey conducted by Mitchell Research & Communications for MIRS showed Barrett at 48.4%, Slotkin at 47.5% and 4.1% undecided.
Ad buys were ginormous for both candidates and their respective parties. Slotkin’s campaign spent $8.562 million as of Nov. 2 and the DCCC invested $5.464 million.
On the Republican side, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spent $7.025 million, the CLF came in at $4.713 million and Barrett’s campaign put in $875,809.00.
8th U.S. House District
Another competitive race occurred in this newly drawn district, with Kildee, a Democrat from Flint Township, facing his most competitive challenge from Paul JUNGE, the Republican challenger, in a district now trending Republican.
During the race, Kildee highlighted that this election was not only about the names on the ballots but about individual freedoms, or the possibility of losing them, such as with Proposal 3, which passed by a large margin of votes.
Junge, a former TV anchor, worked in external affairs for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Washington D.C. for seven months. While not native to the area, Junge has some personal money, which helped him in the primary against a much more conservative opponent.
While the district has a 54% Democratic base, it’s been trending toward the Republicans due to Trump’s popularity.
To win the race, the Kildee campaign spent almost double what his opponent’s campaign did in advertising spending with $4.8 million to Junge’s $2.9 million. Both had nearly even support from the NRCC and DCCC at $1.796 million to $1.796 million, respectively.
Although Junge lost to now reelected Slotkin in 2020, he earned 53% of the vote in the 2022 primary.
However, this time around, he did not earn the coveted Trump endorsement.
10th U.S. House District
Meanwhile, James, the president of his family’s logistics business, is hoping to be heading to Washington D.C. as a member of Congress as opposed to a U.S. Senator.
He was up on former Macomb County Judge Carl Marlinga, in a race in which the Democrats didn’t seriously compete. Marlinga emerged from a large Democratic primary field without the money James brought to the table.
And although the district has 50/50 partisan base numbers, the Democrats opted to focus on their attention on saving a pair of incumbents as opposed to investing in a 75-year-old challenger.
The campaign of Republican hopeful James massively outspent his opponent by $2.4 million with the CLF chipping in another $1.6 million to pull off a win.
This was the third attempt by James to win a congressional seat. He lost to U.S. Sen. Debbie STABENOW (D) in 2018 and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D) in 2020 for a pair of U.S. Senate seats. His campaign’s influx of cash into advertising made a difference as did the lack of support by Dem groups, such as the DCCC, for Marlinga.
James and Marlinga stuck with party lines on abortion rights and gun control. Where they held similarities were on funding and support law enforcement.
President Joe Biden took the district by 13 percentage points over former President Donald Trump in 2020. However, that was in the old boundaries.
Redistricting brought in the solid Republican areas of Macomb County and switched the partisan lean of the district from Democrat to Republican, which further buttressed James’ campaign and hurt Marlinga’s.