Updated: Dems win 3 out of 4 key congressional races in Michigan, party control is unclear

By: - November 9, 2022 8:07 am

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) speaks at a forum with U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in Lansing, Mich. on Nov. 1, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

Updated, 10:47 a.m., 11/9/22

In a night that was supposed to be a Democratic bloodbath, the party ended up winning three out of the four hotly contested congressional seats in Michigan with U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) and attorney Hillary Scholten notching victories. 

Republican John James is in the lead for the fourth competitive House seat after twice trying to snag a U.S. Senate slot.

Nationally, predictions of a red wave also dried up, as it still isn’t clear which party will control the U.S. House, although Republicans still have an edge.

Michigan has 13 House seats. Here’s a closer look at the top races in the state:

Scholten wins open West Michigan seat, will be the first female to represent the district

In Michigan’s open 3rd Congressional District in West Michigan, Democrat Hillary Scholten prevailed over Trump-backed Republican John Gibbs for control of what was previously a solidly Republican district. 

Hillary Scholten

Michigan’s 3rd District includes the Grand Rapids metro area and parts of the Lake Michigan coastline as well as parts of Muskegon and Ottawa.

At 2:22 a.m., after the Associated Press called the election in her favor, Scholten posted a photo of herself on Twitter captioned: “Thank you, West Michigan.”

Gibbs claimed victory over former U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R- Grand Rapids) in the August GOP primary. Meijer was one of 10 Republican representatives who voted to impeach former president Donald Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Gibbs has questioned the results of the 2020 election that Trump lost to President Joe Biden.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took heat for trying to boost Gibbs in that primary — but that strategy in key races across the country paid off with some big Democratic victories on Tuesday, like Scholten.

Scholten ran against Meijer in 2020, but was unsuccessful. She is now the first woman to hold a House seat in this district, much of which used to be represented by former President Gerald Ford. 

Scholten is an immigration attorney from Grand Rapids who supports abortion rights, lowering prescription drug costs, providing fair wages and investing in infrastructure, renewable energy and semiconductor manufacturing.

On her website, Scholten also expressed support for common-sense gun safety reform and protecting voting through policies including a nationwide expansion on early voting and voting by mail. 

Republican nominee for Michigan’s Third Congressional District John Gibbs campaigns in Lansing on Aug. 27, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

Gibbs, who is against abortion rights and stressed issues like inflation in his campaign, previously worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Trump administration. 

During his campaign Gibbs has come under fire due to a history of tweets promoting conspiracy theories, according to a report from CNN. He also previously ran an anti-feminist think tank, which criticized giving women the right to vote and their presence in the workforce. 

Gibbs has also supported false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, listing election integrity as one of his campaign priorities on his website citing “widespread irregularities and statistical anomalies in the 2020 election.”

Slotkin prevails in expensive campaign in Michigan’s 7th District 

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) defeated state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) in a campaign in another toss-up district. 

During an election night event, Slotkin said this race would serve as an indicator for where the country will go and how it will define itself, speaking out against political polarization on both sides of the aisle. 

“We want pragmatic, reasonable, decent people who debate the role of government in our lives, but do not see each other as enemies,” Slotkin said.

“I refuse to believe that this way that we are living has to be the way of the future,” Slotkin said.

By 3:20 a.m., the Associated Press had called the race for Slotkin. At 3:30 Slotkin posted a message to Twitter saying she’d received a call from Barrett’s campaign conceding.

“Tonight, voters here made clear that the politics of division are not what they want for our families or our state,” Slotkin said.

At about 10:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Barrett told the Advance he was feeling optimistic about the results, following an early lead in his favor. While he agreed that results in the district could serve as an indicator for where the country stands, he said he didn’t want to assume too much or too little out of one of many highly competitive districts.

“Certainly we had a very spirited campaign between the two of us. And, you know, I’m excited for the final results to come in,” Barrett said. 

State Sen. Tom Barrett at a rally for GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon in Brighton, Nov. 4, 2022 | Laina Stebbins

The race in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District in mid-Michigan has been labeled one of the most expensive in the nation, with the total spending both supporting and opposing the candidates totaling more than $26 million.

In addition to spending, both candidates attracted noteworthy endorsements, with Slotkin receiving endorsements from U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Barrett receiving endorsement from former Vice President Mike Pence and former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who exited the Democratic party in October. 

Michigan’s 7th District includes Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Livingston and Shiawassee County as well as parts of Oakland and Genesee counties.

Slotkin  represents Michigan’s current 8th District which includes Livingston, Oakland and Ingham County. However, Slotkin moved to Lansing to run for reelection after her family farm in Holly was redrawn into a new district during redistricting.

Slotkin’s website focuses her campaign priorities on healthcare including reforming the Affordable Care Act, lowering prescription drug costs and defending Social Security and Medicare. Slotkin also supports increased investment in worker training programs and investments in infrastructure.

Slotkin also supports abortion rights and has been endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. 

While Barrett focused abortion early in his campaign, sending out fundraising flyers saying he was “100% Pro-Life – No Exceptions,” he later took down a portion of his campaign website detailing his stance on abortion. According to a report from the Detroit News, Barrett said he was unaware of the change but that it was likely made to focus on “the issues that were most salient right now.”

Barrett’s campaign focused on issues of border security, inflation and military support, frequently criticizing President Joe Biden’s handling of undocumented immigration and the U.S.’s exit from Afghanistan. 

Kildee overcomes Junge challenge in mid-Michigan’s 8th District

In Michigan’s new 8th District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) has defeated Republican challenger Paul Junge, with the Associated Press calling the race Wednesday morning.

The district includes Flint, Saginaw, Bay City and Midland.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Twp.) speaks at a rally at the Flint Farmers’ Market on Oct. 28, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

With more than 95% of the votes tallied in the district at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Kildee carried a lead of 53.1% of the votes tallied compared to Junge’s 42.8%. 

The Democrat thanked voters in a statement at 10:22 a.m.

“As your Member of Congress, I will always try to lower the temperature in our political discourse, find common ground between parties, and just focus on delivering results for mid-Michigan. I was born and raised in this district and will always passionately fight for our communities. But I promise to always do what’s right for mid-Michigan, even if it means taking on leaders of my own party,” Kildee said. “Today we celebrate a hard-fought campaign victory. But tomorrow, we get right back to work for mid-Michigan’s working families.”

Kildee has served five terms in Congress, winning his current 5th District seat after his uncle, former U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee, retired in 2012. 

Junge is from Fenton and previously worked under the Trump administration in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Junge has also worked as a prosecutor, a TV news anchor and with his family’s maintenance business. 

Junge previously ran for congress in 2020, unsuccessfully challenging Slotkin.

He has supported parental rights to choose in education as well as the Second Amendment, according to his website. Junge also supports looking for ways to reduce prescription drug costs and out-of-pocket health care expenses. 

Junge has also pushed for more border security. He is against abortion, but told The Detroit News in August that he would not seek a federal ban on abortion.

Kildee supports abortion rights, and prioritized lowering gas prices combating inflation and fixing supply chains on his campaign website. He supports expanding access to retirement savings for workers and has focused on lowering prescription drug and healthcare costs, supporting efforts to cap insulin prices at $35

James is up in the 10th District in SE Michigan

Republican John James looks to have triumphed over Democrat Carl Marlinga in the open 10th District, with the race coming down to a half-percentage point — a much closer result than analysts expected. 

The district includes parts of Oakland and Macomb County, with many parts of the new district currently represented by U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.). Levin didn’t run in the district and lost his 11th District primary to U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Twp.).

The Associated Press has not yet called the race, but the New York Times estimates James will win. With 99% of the district’s votes calculated at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, James held a slight lead, receiving 48.8% of the collected votes compared to Marlinga’s 48.3%. 

The Republican has declared victory.

“THANK YOU #MI10!” James tweeted at 8:03 a.m.

James is a U.S. Army veteran who currently serves as the president of a supply chain management company founded by his father. He also serves as CEO of one of the company’s subsidiaries. In the past, James has run two unsuccessful campaigns against Democratic U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing).

James was previously described by his campaign as “100%” pro-life. During this campaign, James has prioritized issues of gas prices and inflation. James has also publicly questioned the result of the 2020 election, calling for an investigation following his 2020 loss to Peters. 

GOP congressional nominee John James speaks at a Macomb County Trump rally, Oct. 1, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

While James does not currently live in Michigan’s 10th District, he has stated his intent to move into the district if he wins.

Marlinga is a former Macomb County judge and prosecutor who opposed former U.S. Rep. Candice Miller during an unsuccessful campaign in 2002. 

Marlinga expressed support for abortion rights, and creating jobs in the clean energy and advanced vehicles industry. His plan to support the economy includes prioritizing health care, clean drinking water, childcare and strengthening transportation systems.

Here are the results of the other congressional races across the state:

1st Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) was victorious in his race against Democrat Bob Lorinser.

2nd Congressional District

U.S. Rep John Moolenaar (R-Midland) defeated Democrat Jerry Hilliard, and will retain his House seat for a fifth term. 

4th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) defeated Democrat Joseph Alfonso, and will serve his seventh term in the U.S. House.

5th Congressional District

U.S. Rep Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) will retain his seat in the house, emerging victorious over Democratic challenger Bart Goldberg.

6th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor) will serve her fifth term in the U.S. House after defeating her challenger, Republican Whittney Williams.

9th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R- Bruce Twp.) will serve a second term in the house following her victory over Democrat Brian Jaye.

11th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Twp.) was victorious after facing off against Republican Mark Ambrose. This will be Stevens’ third term in the U.S. House. 

12th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) will serve her third term in the U.S. House, defeating Republican challenger Steven Elliott. 

13th Congressional District

State Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) defeated GOP opponent Martell Bivings for the 13th District’s open seat. 

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Kyle Davidson
Kyle Davidson

Kyle Davidson is a reporting intern for the Michigan Advance. A recent MSU graduate, Kyle studied journalism and political science. He has reported on community events, breaking news, state policy, and the environment for outlets including the Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and Capital News Service.

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