5 Things to Know: Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin Runs for US Senate

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, (D-Michigan) left, talks with Rep. Elissa Slotkin in Lansing. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

By Kyle Kaminski

February 28, 2023

Slotkin is a Democrat—but that hasn’t stopped her from winning elections in conservative-leaning districts that are still loyal to former President Donald Trump.

LANSING—More than 600 days before the election, US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) has announced a run for the US Senate seat that’s being vacated by retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2024. 

Slotkin is the first Democrat to announce her intentions to run for Stabenow’s seat, which will be crucial in determining control of the Senate, where Democrats hold a 51-49 majority. The only other candidate in the race so far is Republican Nikki Snyder, a State Board of Education member. Others are expected to announce in the coming weeks and months.

READ MORE: Slotkin Announces Bid to Run for Stabenow’s Empty Senate Seat

Here are five things to know about Slotkin:

1. Slotkin used to work for the CIA. 

Before running for office, Slotkin earned two college degrees from Cornell University and Columbia University. From there, she had a lengthy career in national service—including three tours in Iraq while working as an intelligence officer for the CIA. She’s fluent in both Arabic and Swahili, and has also worked in top defense and intelligence positions for two presidents on both sides of the aisle, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. She also served as the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 2015 to 2017. 

5 Things to Know: Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin Runs for US Senate
(Elissa Slotkin via Twitter)

2. She knows how to win elections. 

Slotkin is currently serving her third term in the US House of Representatives after handily defeating her anti-abortion Republican challenger Tom Barrett last November. She represents Michigan’s 7th Congressional District, which includes Ingham, Livingston, Clinton and Shiawassee counties, as well as parts of Eaton, Oakland and Genesee counties. 

5 Things to Know: Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin Runs for US Senate
(Screenshot via New York Times)

Last year’s race between Slotkin and Barrett was initially expected to be a tight one, but as election night rolled around, Slotkin won handily, beating Barrett by about 20,000 votes.

3. Slotkin is a Democrat—but she’ll give an ear to Republicans.

Throughout last year’s campaign, Slotkin touted herself as a Democrat who knows how to win and represent a Trump-voting district. She’s also willing to work across the aisle in order to better represent her constituents. That’s evidenced, in part, by her membership in the House Problem Solvers Caucus, which helps foster bipartisan collaboration on key policy issues.

She even scored an endorsement from Republican Rep. Liz Cheney last year. 

4. She is willing to collaborate—but she’ll also stand up for progress. 

During her time in the US House, Slotkin has repeatedly voted in support of a wide array of progressive issues—including the humane treatment of immigrants, improving benefits for military veterans, providing more funding to community-based health centers, enforcing stringent water safety standards, and ongoing efforts to mitigate the climate change crisis.

5 Things to Know: Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin Runs for US Senate
(Elissa Slotkin via Facebook)

Having now represented two congressional districts that experienced mass shootings, Slotkin has also been a stalwart advocate for stronger gun laws. Last summer, she supported a relatively moderate gun safety package that included raising the age to purchase assault weapons, limiting possession of high-capacity magazines and enacting red-flag laws. Slotkin’s legislation passed the House, but failed to advance in the Senate. 

5. Slotkin has plenty of other priorities, too.

Slotkin has developed a reputation in the House as quietly persevering, though vocal when necessary. Former Rep. Cindy Axne of Iowa once said there’s “nobody better at strategy” than Elissa Slotkin. And for Slotkin, that strategy has involved the same key issues since Day 1, such as:

  •  Ensuring everyone has access to affordable healthcare.
  •  Lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
  • Protecting access to clean water and Michigan’s Great Lakes.
  • And perhaps most importantly—returning a sense of decency and integrity to politics.

In a video announcing her campaign, Slotkin said the nation seems “to be living crisis to crisis,” but there “are certain things that should be really simple, like living a middle-class life in the state that invented the middle class.”

“This is why I’m running for the United States Senate,” she added. “We need a new generation of leaders that thinks differently, works harder and never forgets that we are public servants.”


  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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