Republican Junge plans run against Kildee in new congressional district

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Republican Paul Junge said Tuesday he plans to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee in the newly drawn 8th Congressional district about two years after Junge's unsuccessful bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly. 

A Brighton resident, Junge said he intends to move to Genesee County to run in the new 8th congressional district, which includes the Tri Cities — Saginaw, Bay City and Midland — as well as the city of Flint. His press release contained a dateline of Fenton.

Kildee hails from Flint Township and serves as a member of the influential Ways and Means Committee and chief deputy whip for House Democrats. 

Paul Junge

It's considered good form for members of Congress to live in the district they represent but it's not required.

"My interest was not exclusively in wanting to unseat Elissa Slotkin; my interest was to try and be a conservative voice to the people of Michigan," Junge said in explaining his planned move to the 8th Congressional District. 

"I think very clearly there’s a lot of people who feel Dan Kildee is not representing their interests in Michigan," he added. 

In 2020, Kildee was reelected in the current 5th district 54%-42% over Republican former state Rep. Tim Kelly of Saginaw Township.

State Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, has already filed to run in the new 7th Congressional District against Slotkin. 

Former Attorney General Bill Schuette also has been rumored to be considering a run for the 8th Congressional District but hasn't announced. 

Junge said he anticipates other Republican challengers will join the race but felt compelled to file sooner than later.

"If there’s going to be a credible Republican challenge, a candidate has to get moving,” he said. 

Slotkin beat Junge in the 2020 election 51% to 47% even as former President Donald Trump won the congressional district by a slim margin.

Slotkin raised millions more dollars in the 2020 race than Junge, a 55-year-old former TV anchor and prosecutor. 

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 Trump took office. Junge also spent time working in the family business, All Star Maintenance, which maintains military housing. 

"I’m running for Congress to fight for the conservative, America First principles that make our country strong and free," Junge said in a press release. "By stopping the failed Biden-Kildee agenda and returning to the successful policies of the Trump Administration, we will strengthen our economy, lower gas prices, secure the border, and expand opportunities for every American."

Republican U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar currently resides in Midland but announced last week that he would run in Michigan's redrawn 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses western Midland County, several Mid-Michigan counties and lakeshore communities as far north as Bear Lake and as far south as the northern border of Muskegon. 

Republican Tom Norton, who failed to get Trump's endorsement in his bid against GOP U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids Township, filed paperwork this week to run against Moolenaar in the 2nd district.

Staff writers Craig Mauger and Melissa Nann Burke contributed.