Finley and Jacques: Bishop, Epstein would strengthen Mich. delegation
Editor's Note: The Detroit News is making recommendations in a number of state and local races on the Nov. 6 election ballot. To maximize our resources and give our readers a more balanced and comprehensive view of the candidates and issues, The News is using a different approach this year. Some of the selections will bear the traditional endorsement of the newspaper’s editorial board. In other races, we'll offer the personal recommendations of our editorial columnists, Nolan Finley and Ingrid Jacques, along with columns from an alternative viewpoint. As always, our mission is to provide our readers with the resources to help them make informed choices on Election Day.
Michigan is a key battleground in the fight for control of Congress. That explains the stunning amount of money being spent in targeted districts, and speaks to how desperate the two parties are to win the majority.
Much of the campaign cash is flowing into the 8th and 11th Districts, and as a result those are among the most competitive races on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
In the 8th District, which covers Ingham, Livingston and northern Oakland counties, incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Brighton, is in a fierce fight in his bid for a third term.
Bishop is challenged by Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA intelligence officer and national security staffer for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Her candidacy has excited the Democratic funding machine and has helped make this race the most expensive congressional contest in Michigan history. As of mid-October, at least $16.5 million had been spent by or on behalf of the two candidates, easily surpassing the $14.2 million spent in the 2010 7th District contest between current Rep. Tim Walberg and former Rep. Mark Schauer.
Bishop has been a solid congressman, and we see no reason to replace him.
Bishop, a former state Senate majority leader, serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, where he advocated for the Republican tax reform.
He has urged President Donald Trump to reconsider his trade war, recognizing the negative impact tariffs will have on Michigan's vital agricultural and automotive industries.
Bishop is gaining influence in the Republican caucus, and has worked effectively with the Michigan delegation to advance bipartisan solutions to issues affecting the state.
We believe the 8th District is best served by returning Mike Bishop to Congress.
The 11th District, covering western Wayne and southern Oakland counties, features two women entering elected politics for the first time.
The pink wave is on display in this race. Both women are millennials, which means Michigan will have its first representative of that generation in Congress.
Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, decided not to run for a third term, leaving this an open seat and one that was hotly contested in the primary.
We think Republican candidate Lena Epstein is the best choice to replace Trott, who served the district well. Epstein, a businesswoman from Bloomfield Township, got a taste for politics when she served as a Michigan co-chair for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. As a woman, she has faced intense criticism for her support of the president, but she has not let the attacks get her down or dissuade her.
That passion and determination would serve Epstein well in Congress. She’s committed to policies that would boost the economy and jobs. And her experience as co-owner of the family business Vesco Oil has given her experience not just in business but in leadership. The company, which she owns with her mother and sister, is one of the largest women-owned businesses in the state. She is also from a Jewish family, and would support Israel.
Epstein faces Haley Stevens of Rochester Hills, who has worked as a Democratic organizer, including on the 2008 presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. She later became a staffer in the Obama administration, working with the auto task force that oversaw the bailout of Chrysler and General Motors. Since then she spent time at an advanced manufacturing lab in Chicago and she created an online certification program for digital manufacturing.
Most other congressional races in Michigan were for all practical purposes settled in the August primary.
We are, however, watching the 7th District, where GOP incumbent Tim Walberg is once again facing Democrat Gretchen Driskell, and the 6th District, where Fred Upton, the Republican incumbent, is being challenged by Democrat Matt Longjohn.
Those contests could be closer than expected if there's a large Democratic turnout in Michigan this year. We believe both incumbents should be returned.