Two U.S. House races exhibiting both the "Blue Wave" and the #MeToo movement are playing out right here in metro Detroit.
11th Congressional District: Epstein vs. Stevens
This race features two first-time female candidates. Haley Stevens is a centrist Democrat known for helping bail out Michigan's automotive industry. Lena Epstein is a Republican businesswoman-turned-politician who has aligned herself with Trump.
The district covers portions of western Oakland and Wayne counties and has been held by Republican men for nearly 50 consecutive years. Republican Rep. Dave Trott is not seeking re-election.
Stevens is a Rochester Hills native who entered the political arena when she was appointed by former President Barack Obama as chief of staff to auto bailout czar, Steve Rattner. After helping negotiate the bailout that kept GM and Chrysler afloat, she worked on the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Stevens' policy positions include support for the Affordable Care Act, gun control, cap-and-trade, and immigration reform. On health care, she has said she would support a public insurance option.
Epstein, meanwhile, seems to be replicating the Trump playbook. Epstein's policy platform includes cutting corporate taxes, repealing and replacing the ACA, and supporting Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policy. Epstein is the co-owner of a large corporation that distributes automotive and industrial lubricants.
Polling has shown Stevens with a slight edge. Michigan's 11th is made up of a number of affluent suburbs and is home to some of the best-educated people in the state. Democrats have mapped their road to regaining control of the House through such areas, as they believe well-educated people will vote against Trump and the candidates who follow his lead.
8th Congressional District: Bishop vs. Slotkin
This race features incumbent Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Rochester), a long-time politician who's represented the district since 2015, and Democratic challenger Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA analyst.
Slotkin has been a part of the Washington, D.C. defense apparatus since the early 2000s and has worked under both the Bush and Obama administrations in positions including CIA analyst and acting assistant secretary of defense.
As a candidate, Slotkin has cast herself as a practical, centrist Democrat looking for incremental reforms. Specifically, she supports reforming (but not abolishing) ICE, improving public education (including public charters), expanding the ACA (she does not support Medicare for All), and enhancing environmental protection laws.
Bishop, meanwhile, has largely served in lockstep with his Republican colleagues while in Congress. He's voted to repeal the ACA and cut corporate taxes in the greatest shift of wealth to the upper class in modern American history. He also opposes modest gun control measures and abortion. While Bishop has deviated from his Republican colleagues on a couple of votes concerning the environment and climate change, he generally supports industry over Earth. He also disagrees with elements of Trump's trade policy, as hiking taxes on imports can disproportionately hurt a manufacturing-heavy state like Michigan.
The 8th Congressional District race has been deemed a toss up.
U.S. Senate: Debbie Stabenow vs. John James
This race pits incumbent Debbie Stabenow, who has held the seat since 2001, against political outsider, businessman, and Iraq war vet John James.
In her bid for re-election, Stabenow (D-MI), is running on her record of helping make health care more affordable through a number of bills aimed to drive down the cost of prescription drugs. Stabenow is also known for her efforts to promote American manufacturing through a bill that would ensure the federal government contracts with companies that make things here in the U.S. She also supports legislation to give people a path to debt-free college.
James, meanwhile, who lives in Farmington Hills, has closely aligned himself with Donald Trump, and has run a campaign emblematic of the culture war playing out on the national stage. This summer, James told a group of male Christian businessmen that the world should operate on Christian values, that Christian men must be as passionate and vocal as those who "seek to tear down families," and that — though "it's not politically correct" — it is the duty of Christian men to lead because "women want men who've been tested." In the midst of the sexual assault controversy swirling around the confirmation of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, James told a crowd in Macomb County, "I don't want to go to Washington, who would right now? I mean, you'll see what I was doing 36 years ago. Well, I was one, so I was breastfeeding... so I guess I was grabbing boobs." Most recently, James' campaign ran an ad that included a Nazi German swastika. James claimed not to know where the symbol came from and the ad was taken down.
On the policy front, James says he supports the "Trump agenda." That includes last year's unprecedented transfer of wealth to the upper class that is projected to increase the debt, as well as a tough stance on immigration that includes defunding sanctuary cities, or as James calls them, "outlaw cities." He appears to disagree with the Trump on trade. Senator Stabenow early on was leading by about 20 percentage points in the polls, but her support has narrowed significantly as Election Day approaches.
Find more 2018 Election Guide coverage here.
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