Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise launched a campaign Wednesday for the Republican nomination for Congress in the 11th District.
Heise hopes to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, a Republican sophomore from Birmingham, who said last month he won’t seek re-election in 2018.
“We all know Washington isn’t working. It’s become a swamp of greed and gridlock that hinders the American Dream. Politicians on both sides refuse to do their jobs, and we get stagnation instead of solutions,” Heise said in a statement. “I can’t sit on the sidelines and watch this continue.”
The open seat in Michigan’s 11th District has been rated a toss-up by Cook Political Report and other political handicappers.
Heise, a former state representative, is the first GOP candidate in the race from Wayne County in a district that covers parts of Oakland and western Wayne counties, including Livonia, Canton Township, Troy, Waterford Township, Rochester and West Bloomfield Township.
Other Republicans in the race include Rocky Raczkowski of Troy, former Michigan House majority floor leader; businesswoman Lena Epstein of Bloomfield Township; and state Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township, the current House Judiciary Committee chairman.
State Sen. Marty Knollenberg of Troy said Monday he would not pursue the seat. State Rep. Laura Cox of Livonia has also expressed interest in the contest.
“I have not made any decisions, but thank you for asking,” Cox told The Detroit News on Tuesday.
Heise, 51, was elected as Plymouth Township supervisor as a write-in candidate last year after serving five years in the Legislature representing the 20th District, serving as chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee and vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a state human-trafficking commission.
Heise says he ran for a township position because his local government was “mired in incompetence and good ole boy politics.”
“Everyone says they are ‘anti-establishment,’ but only I have fought the party bosses, bullies, crooked contractors and dark money — and won. The Establishment knows I can’t be bullied or bought to vote their way,” he said in a statement.
Heise graduated from Dearborn Public Schools and the University of Michigan before attending Wayne State University Law School, where he earned a law degree, as well as a Master of Laws in Labor Law. His practice focused on municipal, labor and environmental law.
Heise served as the assistant city attorney in Dearborn Heights and Woodhaven and as the mayor’s deputy in Dearborn Heights. Later, he was director of the Wayne County Department of Environment.
He is married to 3rd Circuit Court Judge Catherine Heise and has two daughters.
Kesto has not officially launched his campaign, as he’s been busy at home with a newborn baby in addition to his 13-month-old. But Kesto said Tuesday that he’s been raising money and plans to pursue the GOP nomination.
Epstein, who was a U.S. Senate hopeful until last month, is also expecting a child any day. She told Michigan’s Big Show on Tuesday that she had $495,000 in gross receipts during the third quarter and had $782,000 on hand as of Sept. 30.
On the Democratic side, candidate Haley Stevens announced Tuesday that she raised more than $200,000 in the last quarter and has $415,000 in the bank. Stevens is the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama’s Auto Task Force.
Birmingham lawyer and entrepreneur Dan Haberman last week joined the race for the Democratic nomination in the district, joining Stevens as well as Fayrouz Saad, Detroit’s former director of immigration affairs.
Jonathan Oosting contributed