State Board of Ed member aims to challenge Slotkin for U.S. House

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — Republican Nikki Snyder, a member of the State Board of Education, says she's running for Congress aiming to challenge first-term Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Holly.

Snyder's announcement comes a week after Slotkin came out in support of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Snyder said Tuesday she was already planning to run before House Democrats launched a formal impeachment inquiry last week, and that her campaign was not prompted by Slotkin's stance. 

Republican Nikki Snyder, a member of the state Board of Education, says she's running for Congress aiming to challenge Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Holly.

"I started out as a nurse, became a lactation consultant. I’m a mom of three kids," said Snyder, who is of no relation to Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder.

"This is something I am very interested in doing. I feel qualified, capable and committed, so we felt like maybe now was a good time to build a team, fundraise and jump in."

Snyder, 35, of Dexter is the first Republican to launch a challenge to Slotkin, who proved to be a powerhouse fundraiser in her first run for office last year and has already amassed over $1.65 million in her campaign war chest.

Slotkin's campaign said Tuesday the Holly Democrat raised over $800,000 in the quarter ending Sept. 30, totaling over $2 million so far for her reelection. 

"Rep. Slotkin brings a mission-focus to the issues affecting Michiganders every day: lowering the cost of prescription drugs and healthcare, protecting access to clean water, and bringing decency and integrity back to our politics," said Slotkin spokeswoman Hannah Lindow.

"Rep. Slotkin has put country before party throughout her life of service, first in Iraq with the CIA, serving under both President Bush and President Obama, and now in Congress. Slotkin will continue to be an independent voice for Michiganders in Congress. The congresswoman looks forward to a positive campaign, with a healthy debate on the issues.”

A former Central Intelligence Agency officer and top Pentagon official, Slotkin defeated incumbent Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, last fall by nearly 4 percentage points.

The district includes Livingston and Ingham counties and parts of Oakland County. Trump won the traditionally GOP district by nearly 7 percentage points in 2016. 

Slotkin had resisted backing an impeachment inquiry for months but last week said it would be impeachable conduct if Trump pushed the leader of Ukraine to investigate a political rival at a time when nearly $400 million in aid for Ukraine was being withheld. 

Snyder said she has reviewed the White House memo summarizing Trump's July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and suggested his aim was to fight corruption. 

"I don’t feel like there is anything that would compel me to support impeachment," Snyder said Tuesday.

"I think I’m going to be really honest: I think it’s appropriate for all world leaders to root out corruption." 

Asked whether it was appropriate for the president to press a foreign country to investigate a political opponent, Snyder said, "No, I don’t think you should use your personal position of power to gain, but that's not what I'm seeing in the transcripts." 

Snyder, 35, of Dexter said intends to focus her campaign on education and is also keenly interested in reducing the federal debt by culling government waste and spending. 

"I'm very interested in reducing the overall debt, especially the burden on our children for the future, so that's something that goes in line with education, as well. Educational debt is at an all-time high," she said. 

"In general, restoring trust and service in government is definitely something that I represent — creating a place where there’s mutual respect and honoring one another, even when we disagree strongly."

She moved to Dexter about two years ago after living in Hamburg Township, Livingston County, for years, she said. 

Snyder's home is just outside the 8th District, but she said she would "definitely" consider moving back if she wins the election.

U.S. House candidates are not required to live in the district where they are running for office, only the state. 

Snyder grew up outside Marquette in the Upper Peninsula in a town called Hardy before moving to southeast Michigan at age 15. She graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a nursing degree in 2009, she said.  

Republicans say recapturing Slotkin's seat is a top priority for them in 2020. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, was recruiting for the race last month while on Mackinac Island, where he addressed the GOP conference there.  

Michigan's Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said last week the GOP had raised more than $500,000 to help Slotkin's eventual challenger.

Bishop hasn't ruled out a rematch, according to party insiders, but he wouldn’t comment on his plans when asked recently whether he would enter the race.