The race for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District is important… yes, NOW.

Elissa Slotkin. Courtesy AP. Image by author.

Elissa Slotkin is running for a third term.

June 30

Who is Elissa Slotkin? Even the effort in answering this question is a problem for Democrats. Slotkin’s district is one of several House seats which must be won in order for Democrats to hold onto a majority in Congress.

The Michigan 8th is a district a majority of whose voters -by a 6.7% margin- voted to elect Donald Trump President in 2016. The following election, 2018, Slotkin, a Democrat, narrowly unseated Republican incumbent Mike Bishop. Slotkin fought off Paul Junge, another Republican in 2020. Her 2022 Republican opponent has yet to be announced.

The Michigan 8th is a district that comprises equal numbers of registered Republicans and Democrats, a static birth rate, an economy in transition- think Rust Belt (Lansing, Michigan) meets hi-tech/health research (East Lansing)- a district without the benefit of either a reliable union vote nor a significant Afro-American voting bloc.

Michigan’s 8th is comprised of portions of 3 counties, including the cities of Lansing (state capital), East Lansing (major university town), and Rochester/Rochester Hills (suburb of Detroit). The maple earwig shaped district is predominantly white (74–85%), neighborhoods predominantly safe, schools ranked among the best in Michigan. Economically, the 8th runs the gamut from 33% (2010 figures) of the population below poverty line (East Lansing) to 2.7%/4.94% (Rochester/Rochester Hills). Automotive factories have left the area; biotech, medicine, info-tech have moved in, slowly. Michigan Public Radio (East Lansing), MLive.com, and a shrinking local press serve the news needs of the district.

Ironically, with Trump increasingly out of the picture, Republicans have the odds on regaining this seat. The anti-Trump Republican faction in Michigan has retired. However, the double irony is it’s Trump who brought out more voters in this district in 2020 than in 2016. The triple irony is that even if sidelined, perhaps under house arrest, Trump will be an influencing factor in this district’s outcome in 2022.

Why does 45 aka Republican Party have better odds as influencer(s) in the Congressional Race in 2022?

1. “Anti-Trump” is not on the ballot.

2. Election “hoax” is on the ballot.

3. “Traditionally,” 8th District votes Republican.

4. Biden is not on the ballot.

5. Legalized marijuana is not on the ballot.

In short, all the factors that can cruise along to November 2022 unmitigated: none are time sensitive.

Slotkin is once again in an uphill battle to win the seat:

  1. In the last (2020) election Slotkin won by a margin a tad north of the statistical correction (3.6%)
  2. If you are a woman, name recognition/incumbency is not as much a factor in your favor compared to your being a male incumbent candidate.
  3. To win, Slotkin will need even more votes out of Lansing (Ingham County). How many? More than in 2020.
  4. Though de-bunked, 2020 “election fraud” is a hot topic.
  5. Slotkin’s record has not received the exposure it needs to win over undecideds. Did we know Slotkin is a Defense Department medal recipient?
  6. Slotkin is still viewed by many as more of an ‘inside the Beltway candidate’ than a Michigander.

All the factors that can cruise along to November 2022 unmitigated: none are time sensitive.

Hold on: one factor is time sensitive.

The claim that Democrats “stole” the 2020 election no longer has a shelf life in the 8th. Michigan voters are moving on. The more 45 waxes vindictive about the 2020 election, the more 45’s influence wanes in the 2022. What plays well at rallies doesn’t always translate to the ballot box, particularly coming from a former celebrity-President.

Rather, the bigger question is, does the 45/GOP conspiracy have political momentum? In the 8th the question is not if but when. Republicans aren’t waiting: the NRC has targeted Slotkin’s seat as a ‘must-win.’

Another factor is time sensitive:

Candidate Slotkin represents a growing class of governing professionals who have come forward to throw their “hat into the ring.” Unafraid of representing voters who aren’t of the same opinion on some matters, Slotkin’s class articulate a rationalism above the fray, yet do not shy away from shaping the discussion.

They run with the steam of that relentless rhetorical bromide, decency, the epithet that Joe Welch hurled at Senator Joe McCarthy.

“Have you no decency, Senator?”

Remember?

Here is the NRC gamble: that Slotkin will ‘remain undiscovered,’ eg. without a national “presence.” That her re-election will somehow be perceived as “low-hanging fruit” for the Fox News-generated smearing 45/GOP relies on to win elections. The fact that Slotkin also professes an expertise with counter-terrorists- she retired from the CIA- is troubling to Republicans.

To sum up: for Democrats the 8th is a “must not lose.” Slotkin’s story resounds across America.

Democrats listen.

Writer, essayist, dreamer.