Editor's Note: It took a lot of money for U.S. Rep. Elissa SLOTKIN (D-Holly) to win her seat in Congress. The $28.3 million-plus spent on her campaign and that of her opponent, former U.S. Rep. Mike BISHOP (R-Rochester), set the record as the most ever spent in a Michigan Congressional race.
Next year, Slotkin will have to try to win it all over again in the 8th, where the Republicans supposedly hold a 56-44 percent voter-base advantage, but don't have an announced candidate (see related story).
Incumbency does have its advantages, but is there any reason to doubt that she'll need at least as much funding support in 2020 as she did in 2018? MIRS asked a panel of political pundits that question, as well as three others, including a couple looking ahead to redistricting.
Q. In 2020, will it once again take $18 million-plus in backing for U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin to win the 8th District Congressional seat?
Jen EYER, a partner at Vanguard Public Affairs, said another very expensive race is very possible.
"Rep. Slotkin is successfully building an early war chest, and that strength bodes well for her chances of staving off a challenger in 2020," Eyer said. "As for how much she'll need in total backing, it's reasonable to assume this race will be on par with 2018, given the targeting she's already getting from Republican PACs. Slotkin seems to be doing a good job of balancing the job of representing her constituents with the constant demands to fundraise. While I personally feel ill at the thought of $18 million being spent on a single Congressional seat and would love to see serious campaign finance reform, under our current system all signs point to a positive outcome for Slotkin in 2020."
Q. If the newly-drawn 8th Congressional District turns out to be a "safe" Democratic district, would it then be reasonable to assume that the old GOP-biased methods had simply been replaced by new Dem-biased methods?
"The process by which districts will be drawn in the future by our new redistricting commission will be so unlike the old, smoke-filled back room partisan process, that any comparison would be a grave disservice to citizens who may not understand the difference," Eyer said. "This new process was created to be transparent, and the goal is competitive districts. To start eroding the credibility of the commission before they've even begun their work would be a slap in the face to Voters Not Politicians and the majority of voters who approved the measure."
Q. What is the likelihood that the courts will force the new redistricting commission to alter its maps at least once before the 2022 election?
Eyer said the GOP might air some complaints but the courts will stay out of it.
"It's likely that Republicans, who have enjoyed a phony majority for decades, will challenge all or some districts," Eyer said. "However, I do not expect the Michigan Supreme Court to entertain attempts to inject partisan bias back into the process and thwart the will of the people."
Q. Barring some unforeseen development, would you expect the Democrats in 2020 to basically concede the 7th Congressional District to U.S. Rep. Tim WALBERG (R-Tipton) and the 1st Congressional District to U.S. Rep. Jack BERGMAN (R-Watersmeet) and spend their time and money in more promising districts?
According to Eyer, the Democrats should play to win even in these districts.
"The 7th and the 1st are obviously very, very tough for Democrats to win as they are currently drawn," Eyer said. "However, Democrats can ill-afford to not run strong candidates in these districts because if the bottom falls out for Trump, they will carry the day. Democrats in these districts also need to focus down ballot on winning seats at the township, city and county levels, in order to build a bench for higher offices."