Dems recruit prosecutor as foe against U.S. Rep. Bishop

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Democrats have recruited a Macomb County assistant prosecutor to be their new congressional candidate to face Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop in the 8th District.

Suzanna Shkreli of Clarkston will be introduced Wednesday as the Democratic replacement candidate for actress Melissa Gilbert, who abruptly ended her campaign in late May citing debilitating health problems stemming from years-old neck and head injuries.

Democrats have been scrambling to recruit a replacement for Gilbert against Bishop for the 8th Congressional District seat, which includes Ingham, Livingston and parts of northern Oakland County.

Shkreli, 29, is a politically unknown first-time candidate who prosecuted cases of physical and sexual abuse against children for the past six years.

“I’m not a career politician,” Shkreli said Tuesday. “I’m in the courtroom every day, trying to protect our children from dangerous predators.”

Gilbert dropped out of the race after the filing deadline and another Democratic candidate was disqualified for insufficient signatures, meaning Gilbert’s name will still appear on the Aug. 2 primary ballot.

After the primary, Democrats plan to invoke a vague and rarely used state law allowing candidates to get Gilbert’s name removed from the general election ballot for health reasons.

Bishop, R-Rochester, has said Gilbert’s withdrawal plan would set a “dangerous precedent” and has called on Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a fellow Republican, not to let the Livingston County-based actress off the ballot. Johnson’s office has said state elections officials won’t consider the matter until after the Aug. 2 primary.

Shkreli said she would pick right up where Gilbert left off, targeting Bishop for voting to give President Barack Obama authority to “fast track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, allowing the president to negotiate a deal that Congress can approve or reject without any amendments.

“I decided that I’m not going to sit back and let Mike Bishop continue to vote against the interests of his district,” Shkreli said.

Bishop, 49, was elected to Congress in 2014 after winning a contested Republican primary and defeating Democrat Eric Schertzing, Ingham County’s treasurer.

The handicappers at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics rated Bishop a “safe Republican” after Gilbert dropped out.