Michigan Dems flip two Republican seats in U.S. House

Democrats and Republicans are locked in an election battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives, which is currently led by the GOP and retiring Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

Democrats have flipped two Republican-held Congressional seats in Detroit’s suburbs and added three women to Michigan’s delegation in the U.S. House.

Political newcomers Elissa Slotkin of Holly and Haley Stevens of Rochester Hills won tightly contested races over GOP Rep. Mike Bishop of Rochester and Lena Epstein of Bloomfield Township, according to unofficial results.

Their victories will split Michigan's 14-member delegation evenly between the parties, with the Democrats on track to possess newfound power in the majority come January.

And as expected, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit was elected to replace Rep. John Conyers Jr. in Congress. 

She will join Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis, also elected Tuesday, as the first two Muslim women elected to the U.S. House.

Democrats framed the election in part as a referendum on the bombastic president and his party’s record on health care, over Republican appeals about the economy and job growth.

Haley Stevens, candidate for Michigan's 11th Congressional District seat,  greets supporters at an election night party in Birmingham.

Incumbent Democratic Reps. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, Debbie Dingell of Dearborn and Dan Kildee of Flint Township were victorious in their races.

Republican incumbents winning re-election included U.S. Reps. Fred Upton of St. Joseph, Justin Amash of Cascade Township, Bill Huizenga of Zeeland, John Moolenaar of Midland, Tim Walberg of Tipton and Paul Mitchell of Dryden.

Voter Shana Chambers, 53, of Lansing said she cast her ballot for Slotkin and other Democrats on Tuesday because there are "so many things that were just not addressed" by Republicans. She is worried about President Donald Trump, she said.

"I just feel like if Democrats take it all back" they'll be in better position to oust the president in two years, said Chambers, who works for Ingham County.

"I just felt like everything leads to the next level."

Elissa Slotkin, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 8th Congressional District, attends an election night watch party in Clarkston.

Democrats needed to pick up 23 GOP seats to win the U.S. House, including a handful of toss-up races, while Republicans were expected to hold the U.S. Senate.

Michigan was key to congressional Democrats’ battleground map, targeting GOP strongholds in the Detroit suburbs, including the open seat of retiring GOP Rep. Dave Trott of Birmingham. 

That's where Stevens, a Rochester Hills Democrat, won over Epstein, a Bloomfield Township Republican, with 52 percent to Epstein's 45 percent Wednesday, with all precincts reporting unofficial results.   

Stevens served as chief of staff of the auto task force under President Barack Obama that oversaw the financial bailout of Chrysler and General Motors from 2009-11.

Republican candidate for Michigan's 11th Congressional District, Lena Epstein greets supporter Dr. Samir Hanna, Tuesday in Troy.

Epstein, co-owns her family's business, Vesco Oil in Southfield, and co-chaired Trump's successful Michigan campaign in 2016. 

"Epstein all the way in Michigan House 11. She is a wonderful person and, at the same time, a real fighter. Has my Strong Endorsement!" Trump tweeted Tuesday.

Frank Pawlicki, a pharmacist from Novi, said Trump played a major role in many of his decisions at the ballot box Tuesday, including his vote for Stevens.

“I fear his (Trump’s) agenda. And I feel the only way to do something about it is to put another check in the system” by voting for Democrats, Pawlicki said. 

The district includes covers parts of Wayne and Oakland counties including Livonia, Plymouth, Canton Township, Birmingham, Troy and Novi.

Outside groups have poured over $8 million into the fight over Trott's seat and $17 million on Michigan's 8th District — a record-breaking battle between Bishop and Slotkin.

Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., left, shakes hands at his campaign watch party with supporter Tommy Saracino in Rochester, Tuesday.

District 8: Slotkin of Holly edged out Bishop 51 percent to 47 percent, with all precincts reporting early Wednesday. 

Bishop, the former state Senate leader, was seeking a third term in Congress, where he serves on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. 

He had easily won re-election in the past, but Slotkin had outraised him nearly 2-1 this campaign cycle.

Her background includes national security posts under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, including three tours in Iraq as a CIA officer. 

In her victory speech in Clarkston, Slotkin said the mission of her campaign was "to restore some sense of dignity and integrity to our politics."

“This is what happens when you set a goal, and you stay focused, you believe in this country, and that people love it more than anything in the world, and you believe in the possibility of the United States,” she said to shouts and applause from supporters.

"I stand before you tonight a very proud Midwestern Democrat. ... We are practical, we are reasonable, we are independently minded. We are willing to work across the aisle to get something done."

Mary Lindamood, a 54-year-old veterinarian in Howell, said she voted for Slotkin over Bishop, calling the Democratic challenger “very well prepared” for the job.

Peter Poertner, a 54-year-old firefighter from Howell, said he voted for Bishop and other Republicans because of the economy, which he said he’s “very happy” with.

“Everything was so negative, and I didn’t enjoy that one bit,” he said of the race. “However, for me, it's not the negative portion of the race. It’s the individual and how they stand on a particular topic. For me, it’s a conservative stance.”

The district covers Livingston County and parts of Oakland and Ingham counties, including Lansing. 

6th District: Upton, a 16-term Republican, had trailed Democratic challenger Matt Longjohn of Portage before surging ahead to again clinch this southwest Michigan district.

Upton garnered 50 percent to Longjohn's 46 percent with all precincts reporting. 

Their contest has centered around health care as Longjohn, the former national health director for the YMCA, argued Upton is beholden to interest groups and hasn't protected health coverage for vulnerable patients.

Upton, a moderate from St. Joseph, said he battled Trump over coverage for preexisting conditions when Congress tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The 6th District includes Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Berrien, Cass, Van Buren counties and most of Allegan County.

District 13: Tlaib had 85 percent of the vote with 89 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday afternoon. 

No Republican was on the ballot in the 13th District, but Green Party candidate Etta Wilcoxon of Detroit trailed with 3 percent, and Working Class Party hopeful Sam Johnson of Detroit had 8 percent.

Wayne County reported nearly 3,100 write-in votes as of 11:54 a.m. Wednesday, but those results were not broken down by candidate. The write-in tally undoubtedly included votes for Brenda Jones, the Detroit City Council president, who lost the primary to Tlaib by 1 percentage point, or 900 votes.

Tlaib, an attorney and community organizer, led fundraising in the race.

A Palestinian American and Trump critic, Tlaib's platform included addressing Detroiters' concerns about water shutoffs, high car insurance rates, leaky fire hydrants and safer neighborhood intersections. 

Steven Cooley, 54, a retired firefighter from Romulus, said he voted for Tlaib in part because, while in the state Legislature, she fought the storage of piles of industrial coke ash on the shores of the Detroit River near his firehouse. 

"I see positive things from her," Cooley said. "She's a fighting force for the people."

Jones angered some Democrats by declaring her last-minute, long shot maneuver in an attempt to upset Tlaib. She cited concerns about the "integrity" of the primary election.

The chair of the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party, Jonathan Kinloch, has called Jones' write-in effort a "major distraction" from helping other Democrats on the ticket get elected.

Jones spent the day visiting polls to spread word about the write-in, said Thea White, a campaign volunteer for Jones.

“It is taking that extra effort to educate. We want to make sure that everyone’s vote counts," White said. 

Tamara Kirkland, 45, of Detroit said the decision on the 13th District was difficult but she opted to write-in Jones' name.

“It was a tight race. They both have good ideas,” she said. Jones "has a pretty good record. She’s been around a while, and she pretty much sees through when she’s determined to do something. She’s made headway in the city.”

Jones won the race to finish out Conyers' unexpired term in office with 87 percent of the vote, with 89 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday. Wilcoxon had 4 percent, and US Taxpayers hopeful Marc Joseph Sosnowski of Dearborn Heights had 9 percent.

Jones will temporarily represent the district for an estimated seven weeks, from mid-November through Jan. 2.

She has not said whether she intends to resign her elected city post before taking office in Washington, but House leadership says there's no precedent for allowing a member of Congress to also hold local elected office.  

The seat in the 13th District, which covers parts of Detroit and Wayne County, has been vacant for more than 11 months since Conyers resigned in December. 

District 9: Democrat Andy Levin beat Republican Candius Stearns in the race to replace his father, retiring U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, in the 9th District.

Levin, 57, of Bloomfield Township had 60 percent to 37 percent for Stearns of Sterling Heights with all precincts reporting. He has the backing of several labor unions, as well as his father and his uncle, former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.

Levin has defended the Affordable Care Act and support an expansion of health care coverage by embracing Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-all plan. Stearns opposes these efforts and argued there are better ways to pursue health care coverage.

The 9th District includes parts of Oakland and Macomb counties including Ferndale, Oak Park, Royal Oak, Hazel Park, St.Clair Shores, Warren, Bloomfield, and Sterling Heights.

7th District: U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, beat former state Rep. Gretchen Driskell, a Democrat, in a rematch contest in the GOP-leaning 7th District.

Walberg had 54 percent to Driskell's 46 percent with all precincts reporting.

He also defeated Driskell, a former state representative from Saline, by 15 percentage points in 2016, but she has raised more money than the incumbent this time around.

Walberg, a former pastor, is seeking a sixth term in the House, where he serves on the influential Energy and Commerce Committee. 

Democrats have repeatedly targeted Walberg, who lost his first re-election bid in 2008 to Mark Schauer. But Walberg beat Schauer in a 2010 rematch when Republicans experienced their own wave election and retook control of the U.S. House. 

The 7th District includes the Eaton County portion of Lansing, along with Branch, Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

1st District: Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman defeated Democrat Matt Morgan in Michigan's 1st District — a contest between two retired Marine officers of different generations.

Bergman of Watermeet had 56 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Morgan of Traverse City in the election to represent northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, with all precincts reporting.

Bergman, a retired three-star general seeking a second term, has embraced Trump's tariffs, border wall and the GOP tax reform bill.

Morgan, an Iraq veteran and political newcomer, campaigned on single-payer universal health care, infrastructure upgrades and immigration reform.

Morgan ran a successful write-in effort across the 32-county district in the August primary, garnering 30,000 votes after getting kicked off the ballot for a technical deficiency.