Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s decision to run for Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Debbie Stabenow means that there will be an intense race to replace her in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District, a constituency in the Lansing area and northwestern Detroit exurbs that supported Joe Biden by a tiny 49.4-48.9 margin. The 2022 contest attracted a combined $21.3 million from the top four House groups in the nation, putting it behind only California’s 22nd, and both parties are preparing for another expensive fight.
On the Republican side, 2022 nominee Tom Barrett sounds likely to try again now that he won’t need to go up against Slotkin. Barrett, a former state senator who lost by a surprisingly wide 52-46 margin, told The Dispatch’s Audrey Fahlberg, “Senator Barrett has received very strong encouragement from throughout Michigan to run for the 7th District and is putting together plans to do so.” (Yes, he referred to himself in the third-person Bob Dole style.)
A Barrett advisor told the Lansing State Journal later Monday that his man “plans to” try again and will announce sometime in the next few weeks. That’s not quite an ironclad yes, though, and national Republicans may prefer to have an alternative to a far-right former legislator who failed to meet his own campaign’s fundraising goals. Barrett, who wore a "naturally immunized" wristband and refused to say if he was vaccinated, infamously tried to make up for lost time by sending out out a fundraising appeal by text message falsely telling recipients that "your child's gender reassignment surgery has been booked," complete with a phony time for the appointment.
The Republican, an ardent abortion rights foe who refused to say if he supported exemptions even to save the life of the mother, also proved to be a terrible choice in a year where Michigan voters decisively approved an amendment to enshrine reproductive rights into the state constitution.
Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, who is a former state representative, meanwhile was quick to express interest in campaigning for the Democratic nod. (Her mother, Dianne Byrum, lost to Republican Mike Rogers by all of 111 votes in a 2000 contest to replace none other than Stabenow in a previous version of this seat.) Byrum told the Journal, “Over the coming weeks, I have many conversations to have.” Lansing Mayor Andy Schor also said he’d be mulling it over in what the paper characterized as “the coming days” while a third Democrat, state Rep. Julie Brixie, declared, “If I am needed, I would certainly consider it.”