Anti-Abortion Republican Enters Michigan Senate Race

Former US Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) speaks at a conference on March 18 in South Carolina. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)

By Kyle Kaminski

September 6, 2023

Former US Rep. Mike Rogers is planning to run for Michigan’s open Senate seat in 2024. Rogers opposes reproductive freedom—even in cases of rape and incest.

MICHIGAN—Republican Mike Rogers, who served in Congress for 14 years, this week announced a run for an open US Senate seat in Michigan that Democrats have held for over two decades. 

In a newly released campaign video, Rogers—who lived in Florida until he moved back to launch his campaign—says he’s “ready to serve again.”

“I thought I put politics behind, but, like you, I know something’s broken,” Rogers said.

This week’s announcement shook up a Senate race that had been relatively quiet and otherwise dominated by Democratic candidates—including US Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who announced her campaign for the seat in February and is considered the frontrunner. 

Rogers’ candidacy is  seen as a recruiting victory for Michigan Republicans, who have struggled to win statewide races.

An Army veteran and former FBI agent, Rogers was elected to Congress in 2000 and served seven terms in the House, the last two as chair of the committee that oversees US intelligence agencies. He left office in 2015 and served briefly on Trump’s transition team as an adviser.

Rogers has made clear that he opposes reproductive freedom in Michigan—including voicing support for a near-total abortion ban in response to an MLive candidate survey in 2010.

“Federal and state governments were established to protect our lives and the lives of the unborn. I believe abortions should be legal only to prevent the death of the mother,” he said.

Michigan voters turned out in full force last November to support Proposal 3 and cement the right to reproductive freedom—including abortion care—into the state Constitution. Lawmakers also voted this year to repeal the state’s nearly 100-year-old statutory ban on abortion care. 

Rogers, 60, is the fourth Republican to enter the race, joining candidates including state Board of Education member Nikki Snyder. The GOP field is expected to grow in the coming months with multiple Republicans, including former US Rep. Peter Meijer, still considering campaigns.

A surprise retirement announcement from longtime Sen. Debbie Stabenow in January created a wide open race for a seat she had held since 2001. The GOP has not won a Senate race in Michigan since 1994. 

Defending the Michigan seat may prove crucial for Democrats, who currently hold a slim, 51-49 majority in the Senate and face tough headwinds as they defend seats in Republican-leaning states from West Virginia to Montana and Ohio. 

Rogers had initially denied rumors he planned to run for Senate following Stabenow’s announcement and explored a presidential bid earlier this year, traveling to New Hampshire and Iowa to talk with voters and local media.

Despite some optimism from the Republican Party, Rogers’ candidacy is still recognized as a long shot. Conservative commentator Nolan Finley recently opined in the Detroit News that “it’s a nice fantasy” to think Republicans could fill the seat for the first time in nearly 25 years.

In addition to opposing efforts to protect reproductive freedom, Rogers also voted in support of a budget bill in 2012 that would’ve reduced funding for Medicare and Medicaid. At the time, critics estimated that the cuts would’ve left up to 27 million Americans without insurance coverage.

“Michigan Republicans’ nasty primary will leave them with a badly damaged nominee who is out of touch with Michigan families and will struggle in the general election,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes. “Mike Rogers quit on Michigan nearly a decade ago, but he won’t be able to hide from his record: pushing the interests of China and big corporations at the expense of working families, putting Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block, and even backing an abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Author

  • 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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