TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Democrat Hillary Scholten on Tuesday won a congressional seat being vacated by a Michigan Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump.
Scholten defeated John Gibbs, who ousted first-term Rep. Peter Meijer in the August GOP primary. Gibbs had criticized Meijer for being one of 10 House Republicans to support impeachment of the former president after last year’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Scholten is an immigration attorney whose prospects improved after an independent panel redrew Michigan’s House district map following the 2020 census. Her district is anchored by Grand Rapids, the state’s second-largest city, which hasn’t had a Democratic representative since the mid-1970s. Among new additions are Democratic-leaning Muskegon.
Gibbs, who held several positions in the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Trump and won his endorsement, described himself as staunchly conservative, opposing abortion rights and favoring a border wall.
He questioned the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory, posted conspiracy theories on social media and drew criticism for hosting a website as a college student that contended women shouldn’t vote or work outside the home. He recently described the site as an “over-the-top” effort to provoke liberals.
Scholten, who worked in the Department of Justice during the Obama administration and for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, emphasized preserving abortion rights and reducing health care costs.
Meanwhile, Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin narrowly won a third term in the 7th District, which includes Lansing, the state capital. She defeated Republican Tom Barrett, a state senator and Army veteran.
Slotkin, a former CIA Middle East analyst, ran on a record that included support for her party’s flagship legislation aimed at reducing carbon emissions, slashing drug costs and taxing large companies.
Barrett said during a debate he would have opposed the bill as too expensive and inflationary.
Slotkin, an abortion rights supporter, described Barrett as rigidly opposed, with no exceptions for rape victims. Barrett said he was “pro-life” but that the issue was for states, not the federal government, to decide.
Slotkin drew a high-profile endorsement from U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a conservative Republican who lost her own reelection bid in Wyoming’s GOP primary after breaking with Trump over the Capitol attack.
The Slotkin-Barrett race was among the most expensive House contests nationwide, with more than $27 million in spending by the campaigns and outside groups.
Rep. Dan Kildee, a five-term House member and the Democrats’ chief deputy whip, faced off against GOP nominee Paul Junge, a former prosecutor, news anchor and Trump administration official in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In addition to reliably Democratic Flint and Saginaw, the reconfigured 8th District placed an obstacle in Kildee’s path by adding Republican-leaning Midland.
Michigan’s newly crafted 10th District, including portions of Detroit metro counties Macomb and Oakland, offered an opening for John James, a Trump-endorsed GOP businessman twice defeated in U.S. Senate races. His opponent was Carl Marlinga, a former prosecutor and retired judge.
Other Michigan incumbent House members won reelection, including Republicans Jack Bergman, Tim Walberg, John Moolenaar, Bill Huizenga, Jack Bergman and Lisa McClain; and Democrats Debbie Dingell, Haley Stevens and Rashida Tlaib. State Rep. Shri Thanedar, a Democrat, was elected to an open seat representing part of Detroit.
The economy was the top issue on the minds of Michigan voters, with about half saying it is the most pressing matter facing the nation, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 3,200 of the state’s voters.
Roughly a third of Michiganders say their families are falling behind financially. Nearly 6 in 10 say they are holding steady.
Nearly all the state’s voters said rising prices for gas, groceries and other goods were a factor in how they voted, with half naming it as the single most important factor. And among the voters who said inflation was an issue in how they cast ballots, roughly half named rising food and grocery prices as the most important factor.