Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Michigan Senate Race Gets Simpler

The retirement of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has created an open Senate seat in a key swing state. This will be a closely fought and closely watched race. The Democratic side is more-or-less a done deal. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), a former CIA agent and prodigious fundraiser, has the full backing of the Democratic Party. Actor Hill Harper is challenging her in the primary, but he is tilting at windmills. As of Dec. 31, 2023, Slotkin had $6.0 million cash in the bank and Harper had $0.2 million. Two unknowns also filed.

The Republican side is far more complicated. The NRCC recruited former representative Mike Rogers. He is not especially Trumpy, but he is a former Michigan congressman. Interestingly enough, his website doesn't list his positions on anything. That looks like someone who doesn't stand for anything and doesn't want to offend anyone. Wait a minute... has anyone ever seen Rogers and Steve Garvey in the same room together? Hmm....

Also running is Peter Meijer, an Army veteran who is also scion of a family that owns a large number of supermarkets throughout the Midwest. He is a former House member as well, but he accepted the 2020 election results. That is something of a no-no in the modern Republican Party, so he was primaried from the right in 2022 and lost the nomination. Now he wants to try for the Senate. He will have all the money he needs for the primary and, if need be, the general election.

Wealthy businessman Sandy Pensler loves running for Congress. He ran for the House in 1992 and for the Senate in 2018. Unfortunately for him, the people of Michigan don't seem to want him to represent them. But he has enough money to match Meijer, which could make it interesting.

Now here is the newsy part. Former Detroit chief of police James Craig has also run for office before. He filed to run for governor in 2022 but was disqualified because some of the signatures on his petition were bogus. That makes sense because he is exceedingly Trumpy. Also, he has been married four times to three different women and has gone bankrupt twice. What's not to like? So naturally, Donald Trump endorsed him. However, Craig has a money problem. As of Dec. 31, 2023, he had $28,000 cash on hand, compared to Pensler with $1.0 million, Rogers with $945,000, and Meijer with $389,000 (although Meijer can add to that whenever he wants to). Craig has now seen the handwriting on the wall and it says: "You're broke." Consequently, he dropped out, leaving Rogers, Meijer, and Pensler to duke it out. What was odd is that in the most recent poll, Craig was at 33%, Rogers was at 20%, Meijer was at 11%, and Pensler was at 2%. Since there is plenty of time left (the primary is Aug. 6) the millionaires and Rogers can duke it out for months and wear each other out, while Slotkin goes around collecting more money. Perhaps one of the remaining Republicans will now go full Trumpy to get the former president's endorsement now that Craig is out of the way. We'll see.

The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections, and Sabato's Crystal Ball all rate the race as lean Democratic. Polling shows Slotkin with small leads over both Meijer and Rogers. (V)

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