U.S. House incumbents continue aggressive fundraising amid redistricting

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Two U.S. House sophomores who flipped Republican seats three years ago are again leading the Michigan delegation in fundraising for the quarter, according to disclosure reports. 

Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Holly and Haley Stevens of Rochester Hills posted hauls of $957,461 and $618,234, respectively, as they and other House lawmakers face uncertain electoral prospects in a redistricting year. 

Richard F. Lopez, director of federal and administration affairs at GM, gives Michigan Congresswomen Haley Stevens, center, and Elissa Slotkin a description of the new Cadillac CT6 during the tour.

Slotkin reported $3.76 million cash on hand, and Stevens has $1.5 million as of Sept. 30. Both lawmakers are top targets of national Republican groups and are likely to see well-funded GOP challengers next year once the state's redistricting maps are finalized.

Several other members of the delegation, including Reps. John Moolenaar, R-Midland; Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township; Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township; and Bill Huizenga, R-Holland, brought in more during the third quarter compared with the same period in 2019.

Simon Schuster of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network attributed this to the uncertainty that the incumbents are facing amid the state's first round of redistricting with a new nonpartisan redistricting commission.

"Some of these candidates are fundraising very aggressively with the amount of uncertainty and the loss of congressional seat in Michigan. I don't think people know who they might get drawn in with with the new districts, and they're sort of girding for a primary fight," Schuster said.

"As to those who are not fundraising as aggressively, the interested parties, the donors and special interests don't know whether those candidates are going to be in office in two years. And as a result, to some extent, they might be holding off on more generous contributions."

Michigan's delegation in the House is split 7-7. Michigan Democrats raised about $1 million more than the Republicans over the last three months — over $2.88 million collectively to the Republicans' $1.8 million.

Levin, Moolenaar, Kildee, Upton and Huizenga are among the lawmakers would be looped into a new district with another incumbent in some version of the draft congressional maps put forward for public comment by Michigan's nonpartisan redistricting commission last week. 

While the maps could still change, Huizenga would be in the same district as Upton. Huizenga raised $370,225 for the quarter — about $100,000 over the same period in 2019 — and has $917,101 in cash reserves.

Upton posted receipts of $292,943 and has $842,348 in the bank — about $200,000 more than he had at the same point in 2019. 

Upton has attracted a few primary challengers since he voted to impeach former President Donald Trump in January after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

His highest profile opponent, first-term state Rep. Steve Carra of Three Rivers, was endorsed last month by Trump. Schuster said the effect of that can been seen in the fair number of relatively large contributions that Carra received from "random places out of state."

Carra reported raising $115,585 last quarter, compared with $108,522 in the second quarter of 2021. He has $134,399 in cash reserves.

"It's showing that he wants a serious challenge. That this is not posturing, and that he thinks he has a shot against Upton and really working for it," Schuster said.

More:Trump endorses Michigan primary challenger to U.S. Rep. Fred Upton

Levin, who is serving his second term, reported $342,727 in receipts — compared to $161,464 for the same period in 2019 — and has $935,645 in the bank.

Levin has been drawn into a draft district with Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, who raised $91,207 and has slightly more in cash reserves than Levin — $977,307.

Schuster noted that both Lawrence and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, saw their fundraising drop off last quarter when compared to the same period in 2019. Lawrence had raised about $214,000 in the third quarter that year. Tlaib pulled in $358,500 last quarter compared with $722,000 in 2019, and has $1.16 million in cash reserves.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, has suggested to colleagues she might run in the new Ann Arbor-based district that would also include western Wayne County and several Downriver communities she currently represents. Dingell raised $207,877 and has $597,978 in the bank.

Moolenaar again led Michigan Republicans in fundraising for the quarter, posting receipts of $391,915 and reporting $1.23 million in the bank. 

Moolenaar has been drawn into a district with Kildee under the draft maps. Kildee raised $307,978 for the quarter but has more than Moolenaar in cash reserves at $1.4 million. 

Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids Township, raised $277,550 for the three-month period and has $859,161 in cash reserves. Meijer also voted for Trump's impeachment, but his primary challengers remain far behind Meijer in cash. 

Meijer challenger Tom Norton brought in $70,360, including $35,000 he loaned his campaign. Norton's campaign reported $51,757 in the bank but also $150,500 in debt, according to disclosures. Another challenger, Audra Johnson, raised $12,862 and had $47,365 in reserves.

Rep. Tim Walberg, a Tipton Republican, had seen a drop off in his contributions from political action committees following his objection to certifying the 2020 election results in January. 

Schuster noted that Walberg’s fundraising was down about $100,000 from the same quarter in 2019 and that his PAC receipts continue to be down.

"That reflects the precipitous drop that he also faced in the second quarter," Schuster said. "But what you attribute that to at this point is difficult to pin down, when other people who challenged the outcome of the 2020 election have more or less returned to normal fundraising levels."