DETROIT (AP) — Just as Michigan helped propel Donald Trump to the White House, the state could play a role in tipping the balance of control in the U.S. House back in favor of the Democratic Party from a Republican majority.
Republican incumbents face strong challenges in two congressional races, while a third open House district appears to be up for grabs.
One closely watched race is for the 8th District, which covers parts of Oakland County in suburban Detroit and extends west and northwest into Ingham County and Lansing. Democratic candidate Elissa Slotkin is challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Bishop in the Nov. 6 general election.
Democrat Gretchen Driskell also is giving Republican Tim Walberg a run in the 7th District.
In the open 11th District, both Republican Lena Epstein and Democrat Haley Stevens have never run for office but have experience in federal politics.
“We’re a good national microcosm in some ways in competitive races,” said Matt Grossmann, Michigan State University political science professor. “The overall national trend is toward Democratic enthusiasm. That’s pretty typical in the first midterm of a Republican president. Overall, Democrats are a little more excited than Republicans and especially more excited than those people who solely participated in 2016 because of Trump.”
Michael Joyce, Republican National Committee communications director for Indiana and Michigan, said it’s no secret what’s at stake nationally.
“This is a midterm election and we understand the odds are against us,” he said. “We’re getting out our voters and working to get our incumbents across the finish line, and our newcomers, like Lena. We feel confident we feel good about the races, but there’s a long way to go.”
There is the potential that Democrats will flip anywhere from two to five U.S. House seats in Michigan, said Brandon Dillon, Michigan Democratic Party chair.
“I really like where Haley Stevens is at in the 11th,” Dillon said. “I think Slotkin is surging ahead of Mike Bishop. The 6th, the 7th and the 1st are all districts in play.”
The 11th District — and to some extent — the 8th District are suburban areas “we might expect the demographic trends to be moving in the Democrats direction, Grossman added.
In 2016, Trump barely won this district in Detroit’s northwest suburbs. Epstein, a businesswoman and Trump’s Michigan campaign co-chair, hopes to replace Republican Dave Trott who is stepping down.
Stevens was the auto bailout chief of staff under Obama.
“Most of the models have it on the Democratic side, if not a toss-up,” Grossman said. “It’s an open seat in a year when the Democrats are expected to win most of the open seat races.”
Libertarian Leonard Schwartz and Cooper Nye, an Independent, also are on the ballot.
The above is an excerpt from a story published by AP on October 13, 2018. Click here for the full article.