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Michigan Democrats report fundraising leads in 3 key U.S. House races

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

As Republicans compete in crowded primary races, Democratic candidates are amassing financial advantages in three of Michigan's battleground U.S. House districts, according to new disclosures.

Two incumbent Democrats — U.S. Reps. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, and Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly — have multi-million-dollar fundraising leads over their potential GOP challengers.

And in West Michigan's 3rd District, where Rep. Justin Amash, L-Cascade Township, idled his re-election bid, Democrat Hillary Scholten of Grand Rapids raised more money than the Republicans campaigning for their party's nomination last quarter.

Elissa Slotkin, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 8th Congressional District, attends an election night watch party in Clarkston.

New fundraising disclosures from U.S. House and Senate candidates were due to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday night. They cover the three-month period from the beginning of April through the end of June, 126 days before the Nov. 3 general election and 35 days before the Aug. 4 primary.

One of the bright spots for Republicans came in southwest Michigan's 6th District, where Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, narrowly raised more money than his potential Democratic opponents. State Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, the most active Democratic fundraiser in the district, reported raising $377,450 over the quarter. Upton raised $382,649.

Upton, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 1986, reported having $1.4 million available at the end of June while Hoadley had $438,969.

The Michigan U.S. House candidate who brought in the most money last quarter was Slotkin, who beat a Republican incumbent in the 8th District in 2018. Slotkin reported $1.4 million in fundraising from April through June and having $4.8 million still available at the end of the reporting period.

Of her four potential GOP challengers, no candidate had more than $550,000 still available at the end of June, according to disclosures posted by Thursday morning. The most active fundraiser has been Paul Junge, a Brighton resident and former Lansing news anchor, who raised $261,877 last quarter.

The 8th District features Ingham County, Livingston County and a portion of Oakland County.

In the 11th District, which includes portions of Oakland and Wayne counties, Stevens is looking to keep a seat she flipped in 2018. She reported raising $713,728 last quarter with $3 million available at the end of June.

None of her potential Republican opponents reported having more than $300,000 available at the end of June.

Afendoulis, Meijer lead primary in fundraising

Among the five Republicans seeking the GOP nomination in West Michigan's 3rd District, state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township, and U.S. Army veteran Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids have raised the most money so far.

Afendoulis reported bringing in $394,873 last quarter and $856,718 since launching her campaign. Meijer, grandson of the late retailer Fred Meijer, reported bringing in $373,768 last quarter and $1.4 million since his campaign started.

Both candidates have loaned their own campaigns money, according to disclosures. Meijer has given $425,000 since the beginning of the race. Afendoulis has given $256,000.

On the Democratic side, Scholten, an attorney from Grand Rapids, reported raising $484,968 last quarter and having $524,576 available at the end of June, more than her potential GOP opponents who are locked in a primary race.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, holds a town hall meeting at Grand Rapids Christian High School's DeVos Center for Arts and Worship on Tuesday, May 28, 2019.

Amash, who was re-elected as a Republican in 2018, left the party after disagreements with President Donald Trump. Amash idled his campaign for re-election as an independent to consider running for president as a Libertarian, a bid he later dropped.

Amash's U.S. House account raised $24,206 last quarter.

Outside spending — spending by groups acting independently of the candidates — has been low in the 3rd District GOP primary.

McClain has money lead in 10th District

In the 10th District, where Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden Township, decided against running for re-election, the race for the GOP nomination has attracted about $4 million.

The top fundraiser has been businesswoman Lisa McClain of Clinton Township, who raised $1 million last quarter and $1.7 million since the beginning of the campaign. McClain reported loaning her own campaign $1.4 million of that total.

State Rep. Shane Hernandez, R-Port Huron, raised $124,180 last quarter and $488,976 since the beginning of the campaign. But an independent, conservative group called Club for Growth has spent about $782,000 backing the state lawmaker who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, according to campaign finance disclosures.

A group called U.S. Future Fund has reported spending $374,851 against Hernandez.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Doug "Odie" Slocom of Macomb Township is also in the race, raising $230,818 in the last three months and $457,805 since the beginning of the campaign. Slocum reported receiving a $1,000 check from former Gov. Rick Snyder last quarter.

Tlaib has big fundraising advantage

In a competitive Detroit area Democratic primary, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, is running for re-election against a challenge from Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and political activist Cornel West stump for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at TCF Center in Detroit, Friday.

Tlaib reported raising $777,316 from the beginning of April through the end of June. Jones report raising $97,737. Tlaib had a $1.2 million advantage in cash available at the end of the reporting period.

But an independent group called Concerned Citizens of Michigan reported spending $39,068 to support Jones in the race. The group's top donor was an organization called Community Education Committee, which listed a Detroit address and gave $50,000, according to campaign finance disclosures.

cmauger@detroitnews.com