Bishop challenger Slotkin releases first TV ad of general election

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
Screenshot from Elissa Slotkin's first TV ad of the general election cycle.

Democratic congressional hopeful Elissa Slotkin released her first television ad of the general election on Wednesday, focusing on her national service, including her three Iraq deployments as an analyst for the CIA. 

Slotkin's campaign said the ad is the first general election ad to air on TV for a U.S. House candidate in Michigan this cycle.  

Slotkin, 42, of Holly is a former top defense official in the Obama administration aiming to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, who is seeking a third term representing the Detroit suburbs.

The contest is rated a toss-up by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball, and has been described as a bellwether in the fight for control of the U.S. House. 

The 30-second spot opens with Slotkin speaking into the camera, asking, “What does it mean to serve?” The image shifts to footage of troops in combat in the desert.

“In a war zone, you see it one mission at a time, guided by intelligence to know where the enemy is," Slotkin continues in a voiceover. 

"I’m Elissa Slotkin, and that was my job in the CIA. I joined up after 9/11, did three tours in Iraq, and took the safety of our troops and our homeland personally."

She concludes: "I approve this message because we need members of Congress to remember it’s about service to country — not themselves." 

Bishop’s campaign responded by attacking Slotkin’s record in her Defense Department post. 

“Elissa Slotkin was called totally unqualified during her confirmation hearing, and she is unqualified to represent the 8th District in Congress,” Bishop spokesman Stu Sandler said.  

“Slotkin couldn’t see ISIL coming, and Slotkin hasn’t lived in the 8th District long enough to understand our concerns.”

Sandler referenced a 2014 report in The Hill newspaper in which Sen. John McCain of Arizona — then the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee — said he had put a hold on Slotkin's nomination, calling her "unqualified."

At the time, McCain said Slotkin had been unresponsive to questions he had, but that he'd be willing to reconsider her nomination the next year.

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat who chaired Slotkin's hearing as head of the Armed Services Committee, did support her confirmation. 

Levin, who has since retired from the Senate, endorsed Slotkin earlier this year.

The commercial is part of a substantial media buy and will air across the 8th District in the Lansing and Detroit markets on broadcast and cable TV, according to Slotkin's campaign. 

The district includes Ingham and Livingston counties and northern Oakland County. 

Slotkin has outpaced Bishop in fundraising by nearly $1 million, topping $3 million in contributions to Bishop's $2.18 million as of July 18. 

She held a cash advantage headed into the Aug. 7 primary, reporting $2.37 million in cash reserves to Bishop's $1.7 million, according to disclosure reports. 

Bishop is a former Michigan Senate majority leader who now serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. 

His campaign has sought to frame Slotkin as a Washington "insider" who has drawn the majority of her campaign contributions from the "coasts," including New York state and California.