Democrats Scramble to Replace Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow After Retirement Announcement

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. left, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., right, speaks during a news conference with members of Senate Democratic leadership, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)
AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib

Democrats are quickly trying to find a replacement to run for Michigan’s United States Senate seat in 2024 after Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced she will not seek reelection, making way for a crop of new political leaders.

Speculation on who would run for the seat on the Democrat side quickly ramped up shortly after Stabenow’s announcement. Those familiar with Reps. Elissa Slotkin and Debbie Dingell told Politico that the pair might be looking into running. Other sources told the publication that Rep. Haley Stevens could also be a possible contender.

Slotkin and Stevens both went through tough reelections last November. Slotkin has been rumored to be a possible replacement for some time while others have waited for a chance to run for higher office without running against an incumbent.

Stabenow, a member of Senate Democrat leadership, announced her decision Thursday morning, saying she wants to clear the way for a crop of new political leaders. She explained in a lengthy statement that after being first elected a part of her own “new generation” in 1974 at age 24, she wants to make room for a newer one:

Dingell, who is one of Michigan’s more high-profile politicians and represents Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District, told Politico that she was “stunned” by the announcement after “[Stabenow] told [her] months ago [Stabenow] was running.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who just won reelection, and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who splits his time between Washington, DC, and Michigan, quickly announced they both will not be running for the seat.

Of course, Politico noted the list of Democrats who would not run also includes former Rep. Andy Levin, whose spokesperson said he will not run, and Rep. Dan Kildee, whose spokesperson also confirmed he has no plans to run. However, there are still many, many Democrats who could run at the state level, including Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Ultimately, though, the senator’s announcement leaves Michigan in play during the 2024 election cycle — which includes a presidential election — after President Joe Biden only won with roughly 50.5 percent in the 2020 presidential election. Not having an incumbent Democrat senator in Michigan could end up helping the Republicans’ chances across the state, while a GOP candidate for Senate and president would be at the top of the ticket.

With only a slim 51-seat majority, the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, will not only have to try to keep the 51-seat majority, but do so while spending millions to protect vulnerable Democrat senators and potentially Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ).

In the next election cycle, 23 of the 33 Senate seats up for reelection are currently held by Democrats or left-leaning independents, and former President Donald Trump won six of the states by double digits in at least one of his presidential elections.

This also all comes as Breitbart News reported on Thursday that the 118th Congress started with the Senate Democrats appearing to have not yet named anyone to lead the campaign committee charged with keeping — and expanding — the party’s majority in the upper chamber as members start to announce retirement and a 2024 map favoring Republicans looms:

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter @JacobMBliss.


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