A Political Dynasty in Michigan Is Over. Is the Dem Reign?

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Rep. Dan Kildee’s surprise announcement that he will not run for re-election next November marks the first time in five decades that someone named Kildee has not run for Congress. And Republicans and Democrats are already scrambling to fill a hole the size of Michigan.

Michigan’s 8th District has been a shining target for Republicans since the seat was redrawn ahead of the 2022 election. It is now. A little favor GOP. But that didn’t matter as long as Dan Kildee was in office.

Kildee narrowly won re-election by 10 points in the last round, but with a long-serving and well-liked incumbent, Republicans will see an opportunity to vote — especially for the GOP. Challenging 2024 way Hanging on the majority of the council members.

“With Killedy’s announcement, I think this is going to be one of the top races in the country to make up for some of the expected losses that Republicans may have from redistricting,” said Jason Cabell Roe, a GOP consultant and former leader of the Michigan Republican Party. .

The district includes Flint—where Kildee won the spot last year—as well as the highly educated, affluent city of Midland, which It claims to have the largest population of PhDs. per capita in the country thanks to the headquarters of the Dow Chemical Company. The area also includes a large rural population. After redistricting, the seat has a slight Republican tilt.

Killedy announced last week that he would not seek re-election, after a battle with cancer left him pondering his future. His retirement at the end of his sixth term, which ends in early 2025, will mark the first time Kildee will be out of Congress since 1977. D-MI), in 2013.

In the House, Kildee is known as an ally of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N), who has a history of critical policy offerings for the district, most notably a $170 million aid package for Flint in 2016. Water crisis.

Without them in power, Democrats now face the tall task of finding a successor to the Killedy name and legacy, fending off Republican heirs in presidential election years.

“This is a competitive district,” said Adrian Hammond, CEO of strategic consulting firm Grassroots Midwest. “It looked less competitive a year and a half ago or a year ago because the top of the ticket was going down in Michigan for the Republicans. And the Democrats had someone with the last name Kildee on the ballot, both of which were great things for the Democrats.

“None of those things appear to be true,” Hemond continued, “so if the Republicans can get a quality candidate, it should be a tight race.”

In addition to redistricting, Kildie’s former chief of staff, Andy Levitt, told The Daily Beast that the district has become more conservative due to demographic changes and what he called a “Trump shakeup across the country.” Still, Democrats have a clear path to securing the seat, Levitt said.

“The district’s historical and generational relationship with Democrats means that voters are still really open to that conversation, as long as you do it in a real and sensible way,” Levitt said.

So who could that candidate be? So far, no Democrats have thrown their hat into the ring, but strategists have a profile in mind.

According to Hammond, the idea is that a Democratic candidate can score in the cities, stay in the inner ring suburbs and be a “strong center-left Democrat” who can “play well” with the district’s significant Catholic population.

The name at the top of the pile: state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet.

“In terms of people who have experience winning tough elections in this area, Christine MacDonald Rivet is probably at the top of the list,” Hammond said.

MacDonald represents Rivet Bay City, a corner of the district near Saginaw Bay that Kildee narrowly won in 2022. Last year she won the election by 7 points. Before leaving office, McDonald worked for various Michigan-based nonprofit organizations and served as a city commissioner in Bay City.

MacDonald Rivet has not said whether she is entering the race, but Democratic strategists say if she does, she has the votes to secure her seat.

as a First reported by Puck News.Kildie chief of staff and Bay City native Mitchell Rivard confirmed to The Daily Beast that he is weighing a run on Thanksgiving. As of Monday, Rivard said he’s still considering running, but hasn’t made up his mind.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. An investigation committee will begin By examining the ability to run, according to Detroit News. Saginaw County Clerk Vanessa Guerrera is also said to be in the mix.

Some of the other names tossed around in Kildie’s announcement include Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson and former state Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint. But Swanson and Ananich both spoke Kildee does not want a seat.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said they feel confident the seat will remain in Democratic hands next term.

“Democrats have a deep bench in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District and a real record of success to run,” DCCC spokesman Aidan Johnson said in a statement.

Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI) asked U.S. Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young during a U.S. House Budget Committee hearing.

Rod Lamke/Pool via Reuters

But the National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting the district, and for a long and popular time, Republicans see a lot of electoral potential in the district.

“As Democrats nationally continue to scramble to get out, Republicans are expanding opportunities to increase their House majority,” said NRCC spokesman Mike Marinella. “Republicans see this race as a prime target to turn it red.”

Two GOP candidates have thrown their hats into the ring. Paul Junge, who lost to Kildie by 10 points last year, got a second shot at the seat the day after Kildie announced his retirement.

Junge, a Trump administration alumnus who worked for US Citizenship and Immigration Services, seemed to think he had a better shot in Congress with Killedy out of the picture.

“He’s going to start with name recognition advantages that other candidates can build on, and he’s got personal wealth to build on,” Cabell Roe said. But you know, so far, I wouldn’t say that NRCC seems like the best candidate.

So did three-fisted Martin Blank, a Republican Army veteran, trauma surgeon and police officer. Jump into the race While Kildee was still running.

(For the DCCC piece, Johnson described the GOP candidates as “a perennial loser who can’t get out of the Republican primary for state legislature and a California carpetbagger who recently ran for district.”)

There are a few Republican names buzzing around that haven’t entered the race, such as Tom Leonard, the former speaker of the Michigan House, and former state Sen. David Robertson.

Then there’s Bill Shutes, a great father-and-son potential candidate. Elder Bill Schuette served as Michigan’s Attorney General from 2011 to 2019. If he gets in, Cabell Roe said, “It would probably clear the field, although in recent years, More attention has been paid On his son’s political career. Bill Schuette Jr. was elected to the State House in 2022.

Regardless of the nominee, Republicans in the state won’t get much of a boost from the Michigan GOP, which is Bound by cash And roiled with internal strife-last summer’s conflict during a committee meeting led to a Literally a fist fight.

But Michigan Republicans are pleased with the latest statewide polls showing the president. Joe Biden He follows Trump by 5 points A rematch in 2024. The GOP sees an opportunity to ride that wave in Michigan’s 8th. And Republicans may be able to counter the state’s GOP infrastructure challenges with the right candidate to replace retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in Michigan’s Senate race, supporting GOP operations.

“In the absence of a functioning state party, all candidates in the state rely on our Senate candidates to be the statewide foundation,” Cabell Roe said.

Still, longtime Michigan pollster Bernie Poore told The Daily Beast that he thinks Democrats have the edge in the district and doesn’t see it “as close as the NRCC thinks.”

“The 8th is so close that both parties will spend a lot, but if the polls in the district don’t show the GOP has enough of a chance, I suspect they’ll pull their money closer to the election,” Porn said.

If the last cycle is any indication, the 2024 election is expected to be expensive. Last time Kildee It is close Of the $5.6 million, Junge raised about $3.1 million. Political observers expect the campaign to invest more this year, given the focus on the area as the parties battle for control of the Senate and the White House. Michigan will be crucial in both contests.

Kildee himself has a multi-million dollar war chest and indicated in his retirement announcement that he intends to use it to keep the seat in Democratic hands.

“After I retire from Congress, I am confident that Michigan will re-elect President Biden, entrust Democrats in the legislature, and elect a Democrat to serve in Michigan’s Eighth District,” Kildee said. “And even if my name is not on the ballot next November, I will do everything I can to elect intelligent, principled and results-oriented leaders.”

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