(WXYZ) — One of the tightest races in the 2022 Midterm Election is in Michigan's new 7th Congressional District, where Republican State Sen. Tom Barrett is facing off against Democratic incumbent Rep. Elissa Slotkin.
The newly-drawn 7th District includes cities like Lansing in Ingham County, along with Eaton, Shiawassee and Livingston counties, as well as small parts of Oakland and Genesee counties.
The district is new for Slotkin, as she currently represents District 8, and we met with both candidates to learn their background, positions on major issues, and the message they have for voters.
Slotkin is a Democrat from Holly and has been in Washington since 2018 after flipping her original district from red to blue. She's looking for another two years.
"Before I ran for the first time in 2018, I was really pretty apolitical. I was a former CIA officer and Pentagon official. I did three tours in Iraq alongside the military, married to a military officer who I met in Baghdad," Slotkin said.
Barrett, who is from Charlotte, also spent time overseas serving his country.
"My background is in the Army. I joined the Army right out of high school and took the very first airplane ride of my life to basic training, ended up serving in Iraq, Kuwait, Guantanamo Bay, in South Korea," he said.
Barrett was first elected to office as a state representative in 2014, before becoming a state senator in 2018. He said a few of his proudest achievements in office deal with veterans.
"There was an issue with veterans who had invisible wounds, that had service dogs that were being turned away from establishments here in Michigan. So we changed the law," he said.
As for Slotkin, she said one of her proudest achievements deals with the chip shortage, co-sponsoring the CHIPS Act earlier this year.
"I'm a big believer in making chips in the United States, preferably in Michigan. So we passed the Chips Act in August, and it incentivizes an American industry on microchips," she said.
- One-on-one with Rep. Elissa Slotkin on Michigan's 7th Congressional District race
- One-on-one with State Sen. Tom Barrett on Michigan's 7th Congressional District race
According to the Pew Research Center, the economy is what voters say is the most important issue this election. We asked both candidates about the keys to stopping inflation.
"We've got to stop this runaway spending going on in Washington, D.C. that is leading to these record-high cost-of-living increases," Barrett said.
"I've tried to attack the underlying problem, which is gas prices. And for me, I've sponsored the bill to suspend the federal gas tax that would take $0.19 off a gallon," Slotkin said.
Another major issue is violent crime, and both candidates say local police departments need more funding.
"We need to fund and refund the police. Right. It's the opposite of what you hear on TV," she said.
"We have a plan to hire hundreds of thousands of new police officers to make sure that they are working in providing safe neighborhoods and safe communities for people of every single walk of life in America. And then we have to hold these county prosecutors accountable," Barrett said.
There are differences in opinion on gun legislation. Slotkin sponsored the Safe Storage Act and supports raising the age to buy semi-automatic weapons.
"I'm not against guns. But this idea that somehow you can either be a gun owner or care about protecting our children in schools, that it has to be either or. I reject that," she said.
"Well, number one, in Ingham County right now, the prosecutor refuses to enforce gun laws. So we can't go out and create new gun laws without even enforcing the laws that we have on the books right now," Barrett said.
The candidates also differ on abortion. Slotkin supports abortion rights and Proposal 3, while Barret is anti-abortion and against the proposal, calling it extreme.
"As far as being pro-life. Is that with any exceptions at all? Rape? Incest?" I asked him.
"Pro-Life. I think that life is valuable. I think that life is important. And we ought to do everything we can to protect life. I'm pro-life in that includes the life of the mother. You know, I think that it's something we ought not be taking a life except in the instance where it presents a threat to another life," Barrett said.
"It's a kitchen table issue. And I think our state is going to do the right thing and support it," Slotkin said.
We also asked Barrett if he would accept the results of the election, and he said that he would. Earlier this year, we reached out to candidates and Slotkin said that she would also accept the results of the election.
You can view their full interviews below.