Politics

General Election Matchups Take Shape in Michigan

Democrat Rashida Tlaib set to become first Muslim woman in Congress

Former state Rep. Gretchen Driskell easily won the Democratic nomination for Michigan’s 7th District on Tuesday night, setting up a rematch against GOP Rep. Tim Walberg. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats are targeting five House seats in Michigan, and the general election matchups started to take shape Tuesday night. 

Voters in two safe Democratic open seats also went to the polls to pick their nominees Tuesday, one of whom, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, is set to become the first Muslim woman to serve in Congress. 

Senate race

Iraq War veteran John James won the GOP primary Tuesday night to take on three-term Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in November. 

With 85 percent of precincts reporting, James led businessman Sandy Pensler 55 percent to 45 percent, according to The Associated Press. 

Trump had endorsed James last month, which some Republicans predicted would give him an edge and mitigate any spending advantage Pensler had.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Democratic. Stabenow had $6.3 million in the bank to James’ $869,000 at the end of the pre-primary reporting period on July 18.

Michigan’s 6th District 

Matt Longjohn won the Democratic nomination Tuesday to take on longtime GOP incumbent Fred Upton in the 6th District.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, the physician and former YMCA national health director led a four-way Democratic field with 37 percent of the vote, according to the AP. His closest competitor, former Kellogg executive George Franklin, trailed with 28 percent. 

First elected in 1986, Upton, the former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, starts with a large cash advantage. He ended the pre-primary reporting period with $1.7 million in the bank compared to $211,000 for Longjohn.

Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican.

Michigan’s 7th District 

Former Democratic state Rep. Gretchen Driskell easily secured a 7th District rematch against GOP Rep. Tim Walberg, who defeated her by 15 points in 2016.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Driskell led former social worker Steven Friday 85 percent to 15 percent, according to the AP.

Driskell starts at a slight cash disadvantage against the five-term congressman. She ended the pre-primary reporting period with $927,000 in the bank to Walberg’s $1.1 million.

Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican.

Michigan’s 8th District

Former acting assistant secretary of Defense Elissa Slotkin easily won the Democratic nomination in the 8th District, setting up a competitive fall race against GOP Rep. Mike Bishop.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Slotkin led college professor Chris Smith 72 percent to 28 percent, according to the AP.

Slotkin starts the general election with a cash advantage over Bishop. She ended the pre-primary reporting period with nearly $2.4 million in the bank compared to $1.7 million for the two-term congressman.

Inside Elections rates the race Leans Republican.

Michigan’s 9th District

Andy Levin, the son of retiring congressman Sander M. Levin, has won the Democratic primary for the open 9th District, likely becoming the new member from the safe Democratic seat.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Levin led a three-way Democratic field with 53 percent of the vote, according to the AP.

Michigan’s 11th District 

Primaries on both sides of the aisle set the lineup for this competitive open seat, which Inside Elections rates a Toss-up. GOP Rep. Dave Trott is not seeking a third term.

Democrat Haley Stevens and Republican Lena Epstein won their races Tuesday night to set up their fall clash.  

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Stevens led with 27 percent of the vote in the five-way Democratic primary, according to the AP. 

Hillary Clinton endorsed Stevens, chief of staff for former President Barack Obama’s Auto Task Force, over the weekend and followed up with a robocall Monday night. EMILY's List endorsed Stevens Wednesday afternoon after her primary win.

On the GOP side, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Epstein led a five-way field with 31 percent of the vote, according to the AP.

A businesswoman and former Trump campaign co-chair, Epstein poured her own resources into the race, loaning her campaign about $990,000 by the end of the pre-primary reporting period. She ended with $288,000 in the bank compared to Stevens’ $182,000.

Michigan’s 13th District

Tlaib won the Democratic primary for the open 13th District, and with no Republican opponent in the fall, she is set to come to Congress next year. Longtime Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. stepped down late last year over allegations of sexual harassment.

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Tlaib led a six-candidate Democratic field with 34 percent of the vote, according to the AP. Her nearest challenger, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, was in second place. 

With her victory, Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, will become the first Muslim and first Palestinian-American congresswoman. She was backed by a number of progressives groups including Democracy for America, The People for Bernie and Justice Democrats. 

The primary for the special election for the remainder of Conyers’ term, which featured only four of the six candidates in the regular primary, was still too close to call at press time. Jones led Tlaib 37 to 36 percent Wednesday afternoon.  

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