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Junge wins 8th District GOP primary for Congress, will face Slotkin

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Former television anchor and prosecutorPaul Junge won the 8th Congressional District Republican primary over Howell real estate agent Mike Detmer by more than 6 percentage points. 

Junge will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Holly in November after a tight primary Wednesday as the GOP battles to take back the 8th Congressional District seat. The Associated Press has not yet called the race.

With 100% of precincts reporting Wednesday, Junge led a crowded field, capturing 35% of the vote. He was followed by real estate agent Detmer of Howell with 29% of the vote and Fowlerville lawyer Kristina Lyke at 25% percent of the vote.

Marine veteran Al Hoover was last with about 11%.

The candidates' vote ratio remained relatively steady throughout Tuesday night and into Wednesday with Junge inching a point or two ahead with each wave of new precinct results.

Paul Junge

Junge thanked his opponents early Wednesday morning.

"We must now unite to defeat Slotkin in November and together we will make Slotkin a one-term Member of Congress," Junge said on social media.

The 53-year-old Junge moved back to Michigan last year. He spent 2014-18 in Washington, D.C., where he worked for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee before gaining a senior adviser position at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services when President Donald Trump took office. Junge also spent time working in the family business, All Star Maintenance, which maintains military housing. 

Detmer, 44, meanwhile, ran as a “constitutional patriot” committed to bringing more pharmaceutical production into the United States, deregulating industries to bring jobs back to Michigan and protecting Second Amendment rights.

ELECTION RESULTS: Follow along for results 

Each of the Republican candidates has listed the preservation of constitutional rights as a priority should they be elected, followed closely by tight restrictions on the foreign production of pharmaceuticals. 

The GOP candidates also professed support for Trump, but said they would would speak their minds if they disagreed with the president. 

The 8th Congressional District is comprised of the left-leaning Ingham County, the right-leaning Livingston County and part of Oakland County, whose Republican roots have steadily begun to turn blue.The makeup draws a diverse set of voters to the polls each election.

Caleb Kime, a 25-year-old Lansing man, cast his vote for Detmer because it was the name he recognized most based on yard signs, billboards and ads.

“I’m a Trump supporter,” Kime said. “I stand behind, for the most part, what most Republicans do. It's what I’ve done since I’ve been voting — stick to what I feel is best.” 

Scott and Erica Ketchum of Holt cast a Democratic ballot Tuesday, opting for in-person voting instead of absentee because of worries about the potential for the ballot to be lost in the mail or a mistake in preparing his ballot.  Scott Ketchum said he’d had calls from the 8th Congressional District GOP candidates, but said he was likely to cast his ballot for Slotkin in November.

“I haven’t minded the things that Elissa Slotkin has done,” Scott Ketchum said. “The things that I’ve heard her attempting to do don’t seem out of line with what I would think is reasonable.”

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin.
Republican Mike Detmer is running for Congress in the 8th District, aiming to challenge Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly.

The 8th Congressional District was flipped by Slotkin in 2018 when she beat Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop by four percentage points. President Donald Trump won the district by nearly 7 percentage points in 2016.

Slotkiin ran unopposed in the primary and has more than $4.8 million in cash on hand for the November general election, a figure that dwarfs the roughly $520,000 Junge had on hand in July. None of the other candidates had raised more than $60,000 last quarter.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com