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Slotkin campaign reports threat of violence to police, citing increased tension in district

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin said Sunday her campaign reported a threat of violence to police, with the congresswoman saying she decided to speak about it publicly because "the climate has gotten significantly worse in the last few weeks."

A caller left a voicemail at the Holly Democrat's campaign headquarters this week, using "threatening, sexually explicit and violent language, including a threat to 'shoot my way to victory,'" Slotkin said in a statement. 

Her staff notified Lansing and U.S. Capitol Police, who traced the call to a young person in Ingham County, but did not make an arrest after determining the individual was unlikely to pose an actual treat, Slotkin said.

Capitol Police did not immediately respond Sunday to a request for comment.

“This is not the first time violent threats have been directed at me or members of my team," Slotkin said.

"I also want to make clear that law enforcement will be involved in each and every threat we receive. We cannot let it be normal that political differences are metered out with threats of violence."

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) during a walking tour of small businesses in Rochester Hills, Michigan on September 4, 2020.

Slotkin, a former defense official in the Obama administration, flipped a Republican-held district in 2018 when she defeated U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester. 

She is running for her second term, facing Republican Paul Junge in the Nov. 3 election. Michigan's 8th District includes Ingham and Livingston counties and parts of Oakland County. 

The threat was not the first incident the campaign has reported to police this year, but it stood out because of the specific threat of violence, campaign spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said. 

"The congresswoman has spoken a lot recently about the increase in tension she has seen in the district — we have had supporters report angry confrontations and at least one supporter has reported an assault to police," Trowbridge said. 

Slotkin has also spoken out against the alleged kidnapping plot against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, as well as an earlier threat to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and an incident this week in New York involving Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, Trowbridge noted.

Slotkin didn't mention President Donald Trump in her Sunday statement. Fellow Democrats Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have accused the president of doubling down on "dangerous" rhetoric following the foiled kidnapping plot. 

“We have to be better than this. Our kids and our country deserve better than this," Slotkin said.

"Leadership climate is set from the top, and every elected leader needs to set an example by calling out violent and intimidating threats and making clear it has no business in the 8th District, our state and our country.”

Trump at an Oct. 17 rally in Muskegon prompted chants of "lock her up" after he insisted Whitmer needed to relax more COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan. 

Trump didn't join the chant but responded by saying, "Lock 'em all up." He later told "60 Minutes" that he never said "lock up" Whitmer. "I would never say that. Why would I say that?"

Trump is expected to hold a rally on the edge of Slotkin's district Tuesday at the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing — his second visit to Michigan this month. 

Trump lost Ingham County, the most populous county near the airport, by 27 percentage points to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. However, most of the surrounding counties voted for Trump.

mburke@detroitnews.com

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.