Fight for Congress comes down to wire in Michigan
Oxford — U.S. House candidates and their supporters have made their final, furious push across Michigan heading into the homestretch for Tuesday's critical midterm elections.
Democrats aiming to win control of the House are framing the election as a referendum on President Donald Trump, while Republicans are increasingly hopeful that the growing economy will swing voters their way.
"I am really confident that we'll be in the majority," Democrat Andy Levin said after a canvassing kickoff for labor workers in Madison Heights on Monday.
He's running to succeed his father, longtime U.S. Rep. Sander Levin of Royal Oak, in the 9th District.
"I hope we have at least one branch of government, the House, that actually stands up to Donald Trump. That reveals all the lies to be lies. That insists on what's supposed to be very normal oversight of the executive branch."
U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, a Republican running for a third term, touted the positive assessments of the economy at a final get-out-the-vote rally with Michigan GOP supporters Monday in Oxford.
"This economy is rocking and rolling because this president is doing what he said he would do. If you turn this over to Nancy Pelosi, she will reverse it," Bishop said, referring to the House Democratic leader.
"Let’s keep this thing rolling and going forward."
The House battleground includes several competitive Michigan races. Many had thought the contest to succeed U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Detroit, was effectively decided with no Republican on the ballot on Tuesday.
But after losing the primary, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones is waging a last-minute write-in campaign attempting to upset former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the Democratic nominee.
Political analysts say a win for Jones is a long shot considering her name won't be on the ballot.
While Jones' ground strategy is unclear, she is emailing supporters and posting on Facebook explaining how to write in her name on the ballot. Both candidates campaigned at the same Inkster church on Sunday.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re not distracted by it,” Tlaib said during a break in making calls at a phone bank in Southwest Detroit on Monday. “I’m just focused on getting out the vote.”
In the suburbs, the contest between Bishop and Democrat Elissa Slotkin ranks fourth as the most expensive race for campaign advertising nationwide this cycle.
The district has seen $21 million worth of television and radio ads this cycle, according to an analysis of ad-spending data by NBC News.
Bishop, a Rochester Republican and former state Senate leader, has easily won re-election in the past. But Slotkin, a former top defense official, has made headway targeting women and stressing her work for presidents of both parties.
The candidates have clashed on health care, qualifications and campaign finance, among other issues.
"It might all come down to Oakland County," said David Dulio, who chairs the political science department at Oakland University. "She needs to hold down the Bishop gains in his home area" to be successful.
At her campaign’s Lansing office Sunday, Slotkin rallied a group of roughly 50 volunteers and supporters before they walked door-to-door in overcast, blustery weather.
Her campaign reported knocking on 40,000 doors and making 125,000 calls over the weekend and planned to keep up the pace into Tuesday.
“Nothing gets people out to vote, nothing persuades people to vote for someone new more than a door-knocker,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee joined Slotkin and her supporters Sunday, emphasizing the critical role the 8th District could play in flipping the U.S. House and putting “a check on this president.”
“This is a district that clearly is one of the districts that we have to win if we’re going to be in the majority,” the Flint Democrat said.
Slotkin told her supporters that Tuesday would be a “nail biter” and predicted the split would come down to a difference of 5,000 votes.
“We are indeed in the closest race in the state and one of the closest races in the country,” Slotkin said.
Bishop rallied supporters on Monday night with other GOP candidates at the Legacy Center in Oxford, where an estimated 350 people waited in line to get in the door.
Bishop took the stage to the tune of the "Rocky" theme, wearing boxing gloves. He accused Slotkin and Pelosi of trying to "buy" the district with millions of dollars in outside money, though conservative outside groups have also spent millions.
"Do not give this district away. We need to have everybody out voting," Bishop told the crowd.
"I ran for this job because I love my country. I love my family, my community, and that’s why we’re all here we’re fighting for it. That’s what hangs in the balance right now."
On stage, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard accused Slotkin of carpetbagging.
She grew up in Oakland County and moved back to the district last year after 15 years in national service, including three tours in Iraq as a CIA officer.
"Why would you get rid of somebody who gets things done?" Bouchard said of Bishop.
After the rally, Bishop talked about a "groundswell of support" unlike he's ever felt before.
"We’ve been through races like this before. I have no idea how close it is, but it’s close. All I can do is keep running through the tape," he said.
His campaign said it's made well over 100,000 voter contacts this cycle — both phone calls and knocking on doors.
In addition to his campaign, Bishop has gotten a boost on the ground from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super political action committee with ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, that's made over 860,000 voter contacts, the group said.