Slotkin throws support behind Biden in Democratic primary

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin said Thursday she's backing former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic presidential primary race, following a wave of establishment support coalescing this week behind the front runner.

The Holly Democrat, who served as a top Defense Department official in the Obama administration, said in a statement that she filled out her Michigan absentee ballot for Biden. 

"I did so for a host of reasons, but most importantly because I hear from my constituents every day that they want an end to the all-or-nothing politics that have so polarized our country," Slotkin said. 

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Michigan (Holly).

"All-or-nothing doesn’t get us lower drug costs or more affordable health care. It doesn’t raise water quality standards. It doesn't protect our country from national security threats that endanger every American, regardless of party. In Michigan, we have a rich tradition of hard work, decency, and passionate pragmatism.

"That is what is expected of us in our lives, and that is what I believe we need from our elected leaders. That is why I support Joe Biden.”

Slotkin had said last week she was unlikely to endorse a presidential candidate. She also said “it’s too early to say” whether she’d campaign with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-identified democratic socialist, if he's the nominee. 

Slotkin does not support Sanders' single-payer Medicare For All proposal but favors giving Americans the option to purchase their health coverage through Medicare — often called a “public option.”

She represents a Republican-leaning district where she defeated former GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop of Rochester by nearly 4 percentage points in 2018.

Slotkin is the first member of Michigan's delegation to endorse Biden. 

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, has campaigned on behalf of Sanders. 

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, had backed former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, had campaigned for Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. 

Both Warren and Bloomberg this week ended their bids.

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, had endorsed U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California until her campaign was suspended in December.  

mburke@detroitnews.com