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Biden endorses Scholten in U.S. House race for Amash seat

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has endorsed the campaign of Hillary Scholten, who is running to succeed U.S. Rep. Justin Amash in Congress. 

Scholten, a Grand Rapids Democrat, is among the first congressional candidates to receive Biden's endorsement, according to her campaign. 

Scholten, an immigration lawyer, had advised the Obama administration on federal immigration policy. She is facing Republican Peter Meijer, a military veteran from Grand Rapids, in the November general election.

Hillary Scholten

The contest will decide who fills the seat of Amash, a Republican-turned-Libertarian who is retiring from the House after five terms representing Michigan's 3rd District. 

Scholten, who has made her Christian faith a centerpiece of her campaign, is expected to tour the Kids Food Basket, which feeds food-insecure children, in Grand Rapids on Tuesday with Biden's wife, Jill Biden. 

Jill Biden is then set to visit Battle Creek for a listening session with military families with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“From her work with homeless women and children to her time at the Department of Justice, Hillary has spent her career fighting for her community. I am proud to endorse Hillary and know that she will fight to ensure that every Michigan family has a fair shot at getting ahead," Joe Biden said in a statement. 

Meijer's campaign declined to comment Monday.

Cook Political Report rates the 3rd District — long held by Republicans — as "leans" GOP. Meijer has been endorsed by top GOP House leaders: House Minority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican. President Donald Trump has not weighed in on the race. 

Democrats are targeting the district, noting that Whitmer, a Democrat, won 50% of the vote there in 2018. Scholten would become the first woman to represent the area in Congress if she wins.

Meijer, grandson of the founder of the Meijer supermarket chain, had raised about $1.5 million to Scholten's $1 million as of July 15, but Scholten has more cash on hand — $572,000 in the bank to Meijer's $407,000, according to federal disclosure reports. Her campaign said it had raised $1.5 million as of Monday.

Scholten praised Biden's career in public service and said he "understands West Michiganders and the urgency with which we need affordable health care and to build back our economy."

"The grace and humility with which he’s served the American people is exactly the kind of leadership we need in the White House," Scholten said. 

Amash has represented the district since 2010. He has publicly clashed with Trump and decided against a presidential bid this summer after a year-long flirtation with the idea.

mburke@detroitnews.com