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Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

2024 Michigan elections: Sandy Pensler ends Senate campaign; Watch Trump rally

Sandy Pensler shakes hands with Mike Rogers as Donald Trump looks on
At a Donald Trump rally in Grand Rapids, Sandy Pensler said Saturday he's ending his U.S. Senate campaign and backing fellow Republican Mike Rogers in the race. (Bridge photo by Brett Farmer)

Last updated: Saturday, July 20, at 6:45 p.m. This post will be continuously updated with political and campaign news through the Nov. 5 general election.

Michigan businessman Sandy Pensler said Saturday he is "ceasing" his campaign for U.S. Senate and endorsing fellow Republican candidate Mike Rogers. 

Pensler announced his decision on stage Saturday night at former President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Grand Rapids, where Trump invited both him and Rogers on stage. 

"My campaign was always about making American better," Pensler said. 

"The best way to do that is to enact President Trump's policies. To do that, we need control of the Senate. A divisive, continued primary effort hurts the chances of that."

Pensler will remain on the ballot — including absentee ballots that have already gone out — for the Aug. 6 primary. He was among four Republicans seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate race to replace retiring Democrat Debbie Stabenow. 

Rogers, former Congressman Justin Amash and physician Sherry O'Donnell remain in the race.

Trump endorsed rogers in March.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin and actor Hill Harper are competing in the Democratic primary.

— Jonathan Oosting

Saturday, July 20

Watch Trump rally in Grand Rapids

Thousands of supporters were filing into Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena Saturday ahead of former President Donald Trump’s first campaign rally with his newly-selected running mate, Ohio U.S. Sen. JD Vance.

Watch Trump's full speech here:

It is the first joint campaign rally Trump has held since selecting Vance as his running mate and accepting the Republican presidential nomination at his party’s convention in Milwaukee on Thursday.

It’s also Trump’s first public rally since an assassination attempt one week ago that left his ear injured and the country shaken by the specter of political violence. Supporters throughout the crowd wore apparel bearing the instantly iconic image of Trump raising his fist in the moments after the shooting.

Prior to the event, a line of supporters awaiting entry stretched around the block in downtown Grand Rapids. Security has reportedly been tightened since the assassination attempt and roads around the arena were closed to traffic well ahead of the rally.

Organizers are expecting a full house when Trump takes the stage at 5 p.m., though the upper deck of the arena is not being occupied. Trump last visited Michigan with a Detroit stop at a Black church in June. 

— Simon Schuster

Friday, July 19

Trump talks autos, UAW and Kid Rock at RNC

In his first speech since a failed assassination attempt against him, Donald Trump on Thursday night recounted the shooting and accepted the Republican nomination for president. 

Watch the full speech here: 

The former president, who is set to return to Michigan on Saturday for a Grand Rapids rally, also took aim at auto industry policies under Democratic President Joe Biden and called for the firing of UAW President Shawn Fain. 

In his speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump said he'd end Biden's "electric vehicle mandate." There is no mandate, but the Biden administration is pushing automakers to build more electric and hybrid vehicles by setting new average emissions standards.

Trump also criticized Biden and Fain for new auto plants being built in Mexico, an apparent reference to Chinese automaker BYD.

Trump said he would put tariffs of between 100% to 200% on the vehicles to make them "unsellable in the United States." Biden in May announced 100% tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and some other products. 

Trump also praised Michigan musician Kid Rock, who performed before Trump took the stage in Milwaukee. Other opening acts included wrestler Hulk Hogan and musician Lee Greenwood. 

In a statement, Biden campaign Chair Jen O'Malley Dillon said the Democratic incumbent is offering a "different vision" for the country than Trump. "One where we create opportunities for everyone, while making the super wealthy finally pay their fair share." 

— Jonathan Oosting

Wednesday, July 17

Watch John James, Mike Rogers, Perry Johnson at RNC

Michigan U.S. Rep. John James, U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rogers and businessman Perry Johnson spoke this week on the floor of the Republican National Convention, each touting former President Donald Trump or ridiculing President Joe Biden ahead of the November general election. 

Watch their speeches below:

James, a Shelby Township Republican, began his Monday night speech in Wisconsin by ... touting the NFC North champion Detroit Lions, which drew a few boos from Packers country. But Michigan’s only Black member of Congress got applause as he told the story of his father, who grew up in the Jim Crow South and later founded a successful logistics business in Detroit. 

Under Trump, "we can once again have a land where hard work truly does get you ahead,” James said. “We can, once again, have a land where you can go from poverty to prosperity in a single generation."

Rogers, a former member of Congress now running for U.S. Senate, used his Tuesday night speech to provide red meat to the overwhelmingly pro-Trump convention crowd, bashing illegal immigration, the Chinese Communist party, Biden's push for electric vehicles and price spikes caused by inflation. 

"The most expensive vehicle to operate in Michigan in 2024 is your grocery cart, thanks to the Democrats in Washington D.C.," he said.

Johnson, a Bloomfield Hills businessman, was perhaps the most unlikely Michigan convention speaker given his limited political history. He ran for governor in 2022 but was disqualified from the primary ballot due to faulty signatures and then last year launched a long-shot presidential campaign against Trump before bowing out to endorse the former president. 

But Johnson revved up the crowd in Milwaukee on Tuesday night with strong statements of loyalty to Trump: "He has the heart of a lion, the brain of a genius — and he's done it before. President Trump is ready to save our country. To 'make America great again,' again.” 

— Jonathan Oosting

Election updates at a glance

July 16: Donald Trump returning to Michigan on Saturday
July 16: VP Kamala Harris to campaign in Kalamazoo
July 15: Trump taps Ohio’s JD Vance as VP pick
July 15: John James, Mike Rogers, Perry Johnson to speak at RNC
July 12: Full video of Joe Biden campaign speech in Detroit

July 11: Election tampering case on hold after judge nixes hearing
July 10: Farm union endorses Slotkin for U.S. Senate
July 9: Democratic legislator calls for Biden withdraw
July 7: Joe Biden to campaign in Detroit amid calls to withdraw
July 3: Whitmer, governors to meet with Biden as speculation swirls
July 3: House campaign chair, finance chair resign
July 2: Jill Biden headlines Traverse City campaign office opening
July 2: Dave Chappelle raising money for Hill Harper
July 2: Dan Kildee endorses McDonald Rivet
June 28: Whitmer presidential buzz ramps up after Biden debate
June 25: Whitmer endorses in key congressional primary
June 24: Biden, Trump to debate. How to watch, what to watch for
June 20: Slotkin says abortion rights fight not over
June 20: Michigan GOP chair welcomes Doug Burgum: ‘Maybe a Trump VP?’
June 18: Supremes mull Benson poll challenger rules
June 18: Trump endorses Barrett for Congress
June 14: Dems to fly sky banner over Trump boat parade in Detroit
June 14: DePerno runs for state Supreme Court despite indictment
June 10: Tucker Carlson, Kid Rock coming to Grand Rapids
June 8: VP Kamala Harris rips Trump conviction in Detroit
June 7: Court dismisses disqualification challenge
June 7: Michigan’s most interesting state House races
June 5: Nessel opinion tightens financial disclosure rules
June 4: Biden immigration order prompts GOP backlash
May 30: Harper challenges Slotkin to four U.S. Senate debates
May 29: Trump coming to Detroit
May 29: Lara Trump to speak in Macomb County 
May 28:
 Tlaib suggests voters may withhold Biden votes
May 28: Slotkin debuts first TV ad
May 24: Rogers has signatures
May 24: Dems claim ‘potential fraud’ in Mike Rogers signatures
May 22: Senate debate canceled as Rogers, Slotkin bow out
May 21: Adam Hollier booted from ballot
May 21: White House corrects Biden

May 17: Speaker Johnson raising funds in Michigan’s 7th Congressional district
May 17: Signature fiasco threatens Thanedar challenger
May 16: Kristina Karamo loses fight for Michigan GOP (again)
May 15: Joe Biden, Donald Trump agree to debates
May 14: Jill Biden to visit Marquette
May 14: Lisa McClain hospitalized
May 14: Big buy planned for Senate race
May 13: GOP pushes absentee voting
May 10: Justin Amash says ‘we don’t impeach presidents enough’
May 8: First U.S. Senate debate set for Mackinac Policy Conference
May 8: Ottawa Impact member recalled in defeat for ultraconservative faction

May 7: Nessel slams Trump over abortion comments
May 6: Whitmer, Thanedar take heat over Israel-Hamas war
May 3: Whitmer calls 'baloney' on Trump abortion stance
May 1: Trump bashes criminal charges
May 1: Trump supporters flood Saginaw County
May 1: Biden heading back to Detroit
April 30: Academic, business leaders seek three U.S. Senate debates

Tuesday, July 16

Donald Trump returning to Michigan on Saturday

Former President Donald Trump is set to campaign in Grand Rapids on Saturday for what is expected to be his first public political rally since a gunman attempted to assassinate him last weekend in Pennsylvania. 

The campaign stop will also be Trump’s first trip to Michigan with U.S. Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, who he tapped as his running mate on Monday before Republicans formally voted them to be the party’s presidential and vice presidential nominees.

The Grand Rapids rally is scheduled to begin Saturday at 5 p.m. in Van Andel Arena, with doors opening at 1 p.m.

West Michigan has historically been a conservative region, but redistricting, an increasingly liberal Grand Rapids and moderate voter frustration with Trump contributed to a political shift that Republicans are working to reverse. 

Trump narrowly won Kent County in 2016, besting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by about three percentage points. But current President Joe Biden flipped the county in 2016, beating Trump by about six points en route to his statewide win. 

Saturday’s stop will mark the second time this year Trump will be back in the region. He campaigned in Grand Rapids on April 2 to criticize Biden’s immigration policies

Trump is expected to again revisit that topic, as well as touch on inflation, the opioid epidemic and crime during Saturday’s rally, according to a statement from his campaign.

Jordyn Hermani

Presidential visits

As a battleground state, Michigan residents are seeing a lot of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump ahead of the Nov. 5 general election. Bridge is tracking their visits, and those of their running mates, through Election Day. Click on the circles to see who came, when and where.

Tuesday, July 16

VP Kamala Harris to campaign in Kalamazoo

Vice President Kamala Harris is headed to Michigan this week as part of a swing state tour that Democrats say will highlight the stakes of the fall election as Republicans formally pick Donald Trump as their presidential nominee. 

Harris is planning a visit to Kalamazoo on Wednesday to participate in a discussion with former Trump national security official Olivia Troye and Amanda Stratton, a Michigan resident and former Republican voter with a “personal reproductive health story,” according to the Biden-Harris campaign.

The vice president is also expected to deliver remarks. 

The planned stop will be the vice president’s fourth visit to Michigan this year and is part of the campaign’s recent push to win over independent and Republican women concerned about reproductive rights. 

The visit will also come less than one week after U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten became the first member of Michigan’s Democratic congressional delegation to call on President Joe Biden to end his reelection bid and allow for an alternative candidate.

Biden, who spoke at a Friday campaign rally in Detroit, said he will not leave the race and predicted he will win in the fall despite close polling in Michigan and other “blue wall” states. 

Lauren Gibbons

Monday, July 15

Trump taps Ohio’s JD Vance as VP pick

Former President Donald Trump has selected U.S. Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his vice presidential running mate, ending weeks of speculation on who the Republican would pick to join him at the top of the ticket.

Vance, 39, was elected to office in 2022 and currently serves as Ohio’s junior Senator, giving Trump another Midwest connection on the ticket after parting ways with former Vice President Mike Pence of Indiana. 

Vance gained prominence for his 2016 memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, which was later made into a film.

Trump, in announcing his choice on social media, lauded Vance’s academic, military and business career. Vance was among the handful of Trump’s vice presidential hopefuls, which included U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. 

“J.D. has had a very successful business career in Technology and Finance,” Trump wrote, “and now, during the Campaign, will be strongly focused on the people he fought so brilliantly for, the American Workers and Farmers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, and far beyond.”

News of Vance’s selection was immediately met with cheers from Michigan Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, who is currently in the running for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.

Vance “will be a tremendous vice president,” Roger said in a statement, calling the selection “another sign” that Trump is “focused on helping middle class Americans achieve the American Dream.”

Michigan Democrats, meanwhile, criticized the choice.

“Trump has only ever surrounded himself with extremists who agree with his far-right agenda, and J.D. Vance is certainly no different,” state party Chair Lavora Barnes said in a statement. 

— Jordyn Hermani

Monday, July 15

John James, Mike Rogers, Perry Johnson to speak at RNC

Michigan U.S. Rep. John James, U.S. Senate hopeful Mike Rogers and businessman Perry Johnson will speak at the Republican National Convention this week in Milwaukee. 

The Republican National Committee and Donald Trump's presidential campaign announced planned speakers over the weekend but have not yet detailed speaking times. 

The convention runs Monday through Thursday in Milwaukee. Formal sessions are slated for:

  • Monday 12:45-4:45 p.m.
  • Monday 5:45-10:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday 5-10:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday 5:45-10:00 p.m.
  • Thursday 5:45-10:30 p.m.

Trump, who survived an assassination attempt on Saturday evening, is expected to speak at the convention on Thursday night as he accepts the party's presidential nomination. 

Multiple television networks are expected to broadcast the convention. The RNC will also stream speeches on YouTube

— Jonathan Oosting

Friday, July 12

Full video of Joe Biden campaign speech in Detroit

President Joe Biden spoke at a campaign rally Friday evening in Detroit, vowing to continue his reelection campaign and take on former President Donald Trump. 

Watch his speech in the video player below.

The Michigan campaign rally came as Biden pushes back against calls from some fellow Democrats to end his reelection campaign to allow for an alternative nominee to take on Republican former President Donald Trump. 

According to portions of his speech released ahead of the event, Biden was expected to promise that the first bill he'd sign in a second term would "restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land."

Biden was also expected to discuss raising the federal minimum wage, banning assault weapons and Project 2025, the conservative blueprint for a second Trump term that the former president has attempted to distance himself from in recent weeks. 

Inkster resident Diane Jones said she came to Biden’s rally at Detroit Renaissance High School so she can see the president's performance for herself and decide whether to support him or a different candidate. 

A longtime volunteer for Democratic campaigns and causes, Jones said she hoped Biden will address education and criminal justice issues — and make a compelling case for why she should vote for him. 

“Everybody talks about how he's not fit and everything else, but I don't know for sure,” she told Bridge Michigan. 

There’s nothing that will change Tom Moran’s mind. Holding a homemade sign outside of the rally stating “Pass the Torch, Joe,” Moran said he wanted to see an open Democratic convention next month where other candidates compete for the presidential nomination. 

The Fenton resident and lifelong Democrat said if another Democratic candidate doesn’t come forward, he’ll be supporting Cornel West, a third-party candidate. 

“I'm not voting for Joe Biden — I saw the debate, and he's just not up to the job,” Moran said. “I think it would be reckless and irresponsible for me to support Biden. And my fear is he's going to stay on the ticket, drag the other Democrats down.”

Deborah Sawicki, of Clinton Township, said she believes Biden is being treated unfairly by members of the party. She remains a staunch supporter, telling Bridge that Biden’s honesty and previous success against Trump are qualification enough to remain on the ticket.  

“I’m sending prayers and the power of the Holy Spirit to help Joe remain president,” Sawicki said.

Ahead of his Detroit rally, Biden also made a stop at the Garage Grill & Fuel Bar in Northville, located in the district of U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, who had joined Biden on the flight from Washington, along with U.S. Reps. Haley Stevens and Shri Thanedar.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Mayor Mike Duggan were among the Democratic dignitaries who greeted Biden when he landed at the Detroit airport shortly before 4 p.m.

Asked whether she believed Biden should be the Democratic nominee, Benson demurred, telling reporters she’s “just focused on making sure people know what’s at stake this year and know how to exercise their vote.”

— Lauren Gibbons and Jonathan Oosting

Thursday, July 11

Election tampering case on hold after judge nixes hearing

Hillsdale County District Court Judge Megan Stiverson on Thursday called off a preliminary examination that would have determined whether two Trump loyalists charged with election tampering should be brought to trial. 

From the bench of a packed courtroom, Stiverson said she would grant a motion from attorney Dan Hartman — who is representing attorney Attorney Stefanie Lambert and former Adams Township Clerk Stephanie Scott in the case — to appeal her recent rejection of a motion to dismiss

Lambert and Scott were charged with multiple felonies in May after Attorney General Dana Nessel alleged Scott refused mandatory maintenance of a voting machine tabulator following the 2020 presidential election. Lambert, serving as Scott’s lawyer at the time, is accused of illicitly transmitting 2020 general election data from the Adams Township electronic poll book under Scott’s direction. 

Scott faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, while Lambert faces up to 15 years. They have each pleaded not guilty.

Assistant Attorney General Richard Cunningham called Thursday’s delay “unprecedented and unnecessary.” He declined to comment further after the hearing.

A possible future date for continuing the preliminary examination was not set before court recessed early Thursday.

It's the latest delay in a series of cases stemming from failed efforts to try to prove that fraud cost former President Donald Trump the 2020 election, including so-called “fake electors” cases that have been stalled in district court. 

Lambert is facing additional felonies in Oakland County, where she is set to stand trial in October in a separate voting machine tampering case.

— Jordyn Hermani

Wednesday, July 10

Farm union endorses Slotkin for U.S. Senate

The Michigan Farmers Union on Wednesday endorsed Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elissa Slotkin, calling the congresswoman a leader who “understands the challenges facing Michigan's family farmers.”

The state's conservative-leaning agriculture community, long aligned with outgoing U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, could play a key role in deciding who replaces her in the Senate. The race is widely considered a tossup in the general election and one of the most competitive in the country. 

Citing Slotkin's current role on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee and her national security background, Michigan Farmers Union President Bob Thompson said Slotkin is poised to advocate for the state's agricultural interests in the Senate and protect farmers from foreign threats to the industry.


Other major farm organizations like the Michigan Farm Bureau’s AgriPAC committee have not yet offered endorsements in the race.

Slotkin currently lives on a family farm in Holly, which was once part of Hygrade Meat Company run by her grandfather, Hugo Slotkin.

She serves on the House Agriculture Committee and previously told Bridge Michigan she sees food security and the future of farming as a national security issue critical to Michigan and the nation’s success.

Both Slotkin and her Democratic primary opponent, Detroit actor and businessman Hill Harper, have said they’d seek placement on the Senate’s agriculture committee if elected.

Former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, a front runner for the GOP nomination, has said his top agricultural priorities include removing regulatory barriers for farmers, reforming the H-2A visa program to provide access to more agricultural labor and renegotiating trade deals to protect farmers from subsidized foreign imports.

— Lauren Gibbons

Tuesday, July 9 

Democratic legislator calls for Biden withdraw

State Rep. Phil Skaggs of Grand Rapids has become Michigan’s first Democratic legislator to publicly call for President Joe Biden to end his reelection bid.

“After decades of public service, the highest, final service President Biden can perform for the country is to announce he will end his run for reelection and release his delegates to the Democratic National Convention,” Skaggs wrote in a lengthy thread on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

With Biden at the top of the ticket, Skaggs continued, “indications are that we may be headed to a significant defeat in the fall.”

Skaggs wrote that he was troubled by Biden’s “inability to be an effective communicator” during a June 27 debate that left Democrats shaken and opened questions into Biden’s ability to run a vigorous reelection campaign against former President Donald Trump.

Related: As Biden reassures Democrats, cracks emerge in Michigan’s united front

“I am confident a second Trump imperial presidency will be a calamity of historic and global proportions,” Skaggs added. “We must save our democracy from a takeover by a criminal and his gang.”

Still, there are prominent Michigan Democrats who steadfastly support Biden, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has also sought to end speculation that she could step in as an alternative should Biden bow out.

“I don’t foresee any change in this race, and the president and vice president have my full support,” Whitmer said Tuesday morning on Good Morning America.

— Simon Schuster

Sunday, July 7

Joe Biden to campaign in Detroit amid calls to withdraw

President Joe Biden will return to Michigan this week to campaign amid calls by some Democratic officials for him to end his re-election bid and open up the party's nomination to another candidate. 

Biden is set to visit Detroit on Friday, according to an advisory from his campaign, which did not announce any additional details but said it will do at a later date. 

The Detroit stop will be Biden's fourth trip this year to Michigan and first since a debate performance against former President Donald Trump renewed questions over the 81-year-old president's ability to win re-election and lead the country for another four years. 

Some members of his own party, including former Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson, have urged Biden to withdraw from the presidential race ahead of the August nominating convention. 

"It’s clear the President is suffering from cognitive decline, and the actions by him, his family, and staff since the debate have only reinforced that belief," Johnson wrote last week on Facebook. "He will be remembered for a lifetime of honorable service to our country."

Biden has said he has no plans to withdraw.

"I am running — and going to win again," the president said Friday in a Wisconsin rally. 

"I'm not letting one 90-minute debate wipe out three and a half years of work," Biden added on social media

Were Biden to step down, Democratic delegates could select a new presidential nominee at the party's upcoming Chicago convention, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 19. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been floated as a potential contender, but she has attempted to quell speculation while publicly affirming her support for Biden. 

Biden "is our nominee," Whitmer wrote on social media last week. "He is in it to win it and I support him."

Biden and Trump have both recently campaigned in Detroit, courting Black voters in the traditional Democratic stronghold where turnout could help decide the presidential election.

Biden spoke at an NAACP dinner in May. Trump spoke at a church and conservative conference in June.

— Jonathan Oosting

Wednesday, July 3

Whitmer, governors to meet with Biden as speculation swirls

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will meet with President Joe Biden in the White House alongside other Democratic governors Wednesday evening, a Whitmer spokesperson confirmed to Bridge.

The meeting comes amid growing calls for Biden to leave the presidential race after his halting debate performance last week.

Whitmer plans to attend the event with Democratic governors from nine other states, while more expected to join virtually, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Speculation has refused to quiet about Whitmer’s presidential prospects should Biden exit the race. Whitmer, a national co-chair of Biden’s campaign, remains a full-throated supporter of the President, though her online appeals to support his reelection link to her own federal fundraising account, Fight Like Hell PAC, rather than Biden’s own fundraising.

On Monday a Politico Magazine column quoted “someone close to a potential 2028 Whitmer rival” claiming she told Biden’s campaign Michigan is no longer winnable after the debate. 

Hours later, Whitmer’s X account posted a succinct denial: “Anyone who claims I would say that we can’t win Michigan is full of shit.”

Biden’s wife, Jill, is scheduled to be in Traverse City on Wednesday. On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom — another politician frequently mentioned as a stand-in candidate — will campaign for Biden in Van Buren County. 

— Simon Schuster

Wednesday, July 3

House campaign chair, finance chair resign

Two lawmakers leading 2024 campaign operations for Michigan House Democrats have resigned, according to multiple news outlets.

The Detroit News and Gongwer News Service reported Wednesday that Reps. Regina Weiss, D-Oak Park, and Samantha Steckloff, D-Farmington Hills, offered their resignations ahead of an internal Tuesday meeting of House Democrats. 

House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, is reportedly in the process of revising the campaign structure.

Campaign chairs for legislative caucuses typically set statewide strategy and fundraising plans with the goal of defending vulnerable districts and potentially picking up competitive seats.

The 2024 cycle is critical for Democratic House leadership as they prepare to defend their slim majority in the chamber from Republicans eager to win it back.

The resignations come after a turbulent budget debate, where several Democrats disputed a move to pass the budget without also moving a policy bill involving changes to the state’s retirement system for public school employees.

– Lauren Gibbons

Tuesday, July 2

Jill Biden headlines Traverse City campaign office opening

First Lady Jill Biden is heading to Michigan on Wednesday to help open a campaign office in Traverse City, President Joe Biden’s campaign announced Tuesday. 

The office opening announcement is 1 p.m. Wednesday, where Jill Biden will be joined by Chasten Buttigieg, a northern Michigan native and husband to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigeig. 

Jill Biden is reportedly scheduled to land in Grand Rapids Tuesday afternoon, according to CBS News

Prior to Wednesday’s campaign event, Biden will attend events in Middleville near Grand Rapids to promote summer nutrition programs for children and visit the Hidden Helpers summer camp, the outlet reported. 

The new Traverse City location will be the campaign’s 45th Michigan office for recruiting and training volunteers.

Jill Biden last visited Michigan in May, where she made several Upper Peninsula campaign stops with Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris. 

— Lauren Gibbons

Tuesday, July 2

Dave Chappelle raising money for Hill Harper

Democrat Hill Harper is teaming with comedian Dave Chappelle for a campaign fundraiser scheduled on July 11 in Detroit’s St. Andrew’s Hall.

Doors for the show open at 6 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. show. General admission is $500, with balcony tickets costing $250. Tickets are available online.

Harper is taking on U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Holly for a shot at Michigan’s hotly contested open U.S. Senate seat. The winner of the Aug. 6 primary faces one of four Republicans: former U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, businessman Sandy Pensler or Dr. Sherry O’Donnell.

 Jordyn Hermani

Tuesday, July 2

Dan Kildee endorses McDonald Rivet

Kristen McDonald Rivet photo
Democratic state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet is running for the U.S. House in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District (Campaign photo)

Retiring U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee endorsed state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet, D-Bay City, on Tuesday to succeed him in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District.

In a statement, Kildee said a “spirited primary” had emerged in the district but called McDonald Rivet “the best candidate to represent mid-Michigan going forward” and someone who “fights every day for working people.”

A Democrat, Kildee served six terms and won reelection in his newly-drawn district by more than 10 percentage points in 2022. In November, he announced he would not seek reelection, a decision prompted by a recent battle with cancer.

Related: Whitmer endorses in key congressional primary

“When I announced my retirement from Congress, I said I'd do everything I could to help elect common sense, principled, results-oriented leaders,” Kildee said at a campaign event for McDonald Rivet in Flint. “And that's why I'm speaking out, supporting and endorsing Kristen McDonald Rivet.”

McDonald Rivet faces State Board of Education president Pamela Pugh and former Flint mayor Matt Collier in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary.

Kildee’s endorsement follows those of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week, United Auto Workers and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has named the district among its priorities.

The district stretches from Flint’s southern suburbs north along Lake Huron to Pinconning and includes Saginaw and Midland.

— Simon D. Schuster

Friday, June 28

Whitmer presidential buzz ramps up after Biden debate

President Joe Biden's sluggish performance in Thursday night's debate renewed speculation over whether Democrats could still replace him on the ballot this fall with an alternative candidate. 

Experts say Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could be a legitimate contender should Biden step down before the party's August nominating convention, which he has given no indication he plans to do. 

"I wish Biden would reflect on this debate performance and then announce his decision to withdraw from the race, throwing the choice of Democratic nominee to the convention," progressive columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote Thursday night on social media.

Related: Gretchen Whitmer says she won’t replace Biden. What happens if that changes?

Someone like Whitmer, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio or Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo "could still jump in and beat" Donald Trump, the former president and presumptive GOP nominee,  Kristof predicted, before making similar arguments in a New York Times column

Steve Schmidt, a former Republican turned Democrat strategist who co-founded the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, predicted after the first hour of the debate that Biden will be a "one-term president."

"He still has the chance to watch a Democrat be inaugurated," Schmidt wrote on social media. "There are 68 days until the DNC. Whitmer/Moore beats Trump," Schmidt added, referencing Maryland Gov. Wes Moore as a possible Whitmer running mate. 

Whitmer, for her part, has served as a national campaign co-chair for Biden and has previously denied any attempt to try and replace him as this year's Democratic nominee. 

Whitmer was reportedly expected in Los Angeles Thursday night for a debate watch party fundraiser for the Biden campaign, and she tweeted praise for Biden shortly after the debate began. 

Whitmer released a statement Friday morning that touted Biden but did not directly reference his debate performance. 

"Joe Biden is running to serve the American people. Donald Trump is running to serve Donald Trump," she said. 

"The difference between Joe Biden’s vision for making sure everyone in America has a fair shot and Donald Trump’s dangerous, self-serving plans will only get sharper as we head toward November.”

Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon said the president "presented a positive and winning vision for the future of America" in the debate.

Michigan Democratic Party Lavora Barnes said the debate presented a "clear choice" between Biden and Trump, who "could not be more out of step with the values of Michiganders."

— Jonathan Oosting

Thursday, June 27

Watch Joe Biden, Donald Trump debate

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump debated Thursday night as they compete for a second term in the White House.

Miss it? You can watch the debate, hosted by CNN, below. 

Tuesday, June 25

Whitmer endorses in key congressional primary

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday endorsed state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet, D-Bay City, to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, in the Michigan’s closely contested 8th Congressional District.

In a video posted to the X social media platform, Whitmer said Rivet would “fight like hell for Michiganders” in congress, “just like she's been doing in the state legislature,” highlighting recent Democratic policy wins in Lansing. 

McDonald Rivet has two primary challengers for the Democratic nomination: State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh, and former Flint Mayor Matt Collier.

Kildee served six terms and won reelection in his newly-drawn district by more than 10 percentage points in 2022, but announced in November 2023 he would not seek reelection in, a decision he said was spurred by a recent battle with cancer.

The district has become more conservative since 2020 redistricting. Kildee’s district had once been anchored solely by Flint but now stretches north to encompass the more conservative tri-cities region consisting of Midland, Saginaw and Bay City.

It means the congressional race is expected to be one of the state’s closest. Though there has been little public polling yet conducted in the race, one hypothetical matchup between McDonald Rivet and a GOP challenger, Paul Junge, had the two candidates statistically tied with about a fifth of voters undecided.

In the Republican primary, Junge, a businessman, is competing against Midland native Mary Draves, who recently picked up the endorsement of the Saginaw County Republican Party. Anthony Hudson, another candidate in the GOP primary, recently drew widespread criticism for posting an AI-generated video of Martin Luther King Jr. endorsing his campaign.

— Simon Schuster

Monday, June 24

Biden, Trump to debate. How to watch, what to watch for

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will debate Thursday night for the first time since the 2020 election, which saw Biden narrowly win Michigan by 154,188 votes en route to an Electoral College victory. 

The presumptive presidential nominees for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, are set to share the stage for a 90 minute debate that starts at 9 p.m. CNN will host from its network studios in Atlanta. Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate. 

You should be able to watch the debate on many major TV networks, as the CNN event will be simulcast on NBC, ABC, C-SPAN and more. For viewers without a subscription, CNN is also expected to air the debate live on its website.

The June 27 debate will mark "the earliest general election debate since televised presidential debates began in 1960, according to Dustin Carnahan, an associate professor in Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

That's possible because of the "long-held status of both Biden and Trump as the presumptive nominees for their parties," Carnahan said in a pre-debate analysis distributed by the university. 

Debates usually don't change many minds because they are typically viewed by people who are already politically engaged, he added.

"But in a year when each campaign has made no secret of its strategy of questioning the other’s fitness for office, any significant gaffes by either of the candidates during the debate is likely to dominate messaging by the campaigns and in news coverage as evidence of that candidate’s decline,” Carnahan said.

“And given the longer period between the first and second debate in 2024 — two months rather than a week or two in a normal debate schedule — attempts at damage control might prove more challenging as a poor performance is likely to linger."

Elissa Slotkin on a stage, speaking to supporters
Rep. Elissa Slotkin, center, was joined by leaders of three leading abortion rights advocates in Grand Rapids Thursday for a rally ahead of the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended federal rights to an abortion. (Bridge photo by Lauren Gibbons)

Thursday, June 20

Slotkin says abortion rights fight not over

Prominent abortion rights advocates gathered in Grand Rapids on Thursday to campaign for U.S. Senate candidate Elissa Slotkin, arguing their fight didn’t end in 2022 when Michigan voters added abortion rights to the state constitution. 

EMILYs List President Jessica Mackler, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Alexis McGill Johnson and Reproductive Freedom for All President Mini Timmaraju joined Slotkin, who said abortion opponents have not stopped their efforts to limit access after the downfall of Roe v. Wade two years ago.

She pointed to a recent legal challenge to abortion medication prescriptions that was ultimately tossed by the U.S. Supreme Court and near-total abortion bans in other states.

“They brought this fight, and we cannot let them win this fight,” Slotkin said.

Abortion advocates won big at the Michigan ballot box two years ago with passage of Proposal 3, which wrote abortion rights and reproductive health access into the state constitution. Democrats, too, saw success at the polls, winning a sweep of statewide offices and majority control of the Legislature. 

While leading Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rogers has said he won’t try to “undo” the Michigan law, abortion rights groups on Thursday urged voters to avoid complacency, pointing to the possibility of a federal abortion ban.

“We know that what we did here in Michigan could so easily be stripped away next year if we are not able to take back the House, if we lose the Senate and lose the presidency,” Timmaraju said. 

Former president and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump said in April that he believed laws enforcing abortion access should be left to the states. He did not directly say whether he would veto a federal abortion ban if congressional Republicans put one on his desk.

— Lauren Gibbons

Thursday, June 20

Michigan GOP chair welcomes Doug Burgum: ‘Maybe a Trump VP?’

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum visited Michigan on Thursday as a surrogate for former President Donald Trump, who is reportedly considering Burgum as a potential running mate as he campaigns to return to the White House. 

Burgum toured a butcher’s shop in Walker with Republican officials, including Michigan GOP chairman Pete Hoekstra, who joined the running mate speculation with a morning tweet: “Welcome Governor Burgum to West Michigan! Maybe a Trump VP?”

Later Thursday, Burgum is expected to attend a Michigan GOP fundraiser reception at Ucellos in downtown Grand Rapids. 

Burgum, in his second term as Governor of North Dakota, was a presidential candidate before announcing he was suspending his campaign in December 2023.

Trump was in Detroit last Saturday, speaking in a church in a bid to win support from Black voters, though the audience was largely white.

President Joe Biden won Kent County, where Burgum visited, by a slim margin in the 2020 election.

— Simon Schuster

Tuesday, June 18

Supremes mull Benson poll challenger rules

The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday morning in a two year-old suit challenging the breadth of election guidance the Michigan Secretary of State can issue and how far-reaching it can be.

At issue is whether Jocelyn Benson’s department could legally issue guidance for poll challengers ahead of the 2022 election without using the administrative rules process, and if the instructions they issued followed Michigan election law. 

May 2022 rules required partisan poll challengers to be credentialed by their parties. They couldn’t carry cell phones or speak with election inspectors. Republicans, including the state and national parties, challenged the rules and the department’s process. The Michigan Court of Claims and Court of Appeals ruled for the GOP, but the rules have remained in place through the legal battle.

Assistant Attorney General Heather Meingast, who represented the state on Wednesday, told Supreme Court justices that a requirement to use the rulemaking process in such instances “threatens the Secretary's ability to issue timely and effective instructions” for future elections.

The rules aimed, in part, to manage an increasingly contentious vote-counting process by heading off combative poll challengers who are more disruptive than scrutinizing.

Justice David Viviano, a Republican nominee, seemed skeptical about the scope of one rule that would require challengers to refer their disputes to a “challenger liaison.” He expressed concerns those liaisons, under the department’s rule, could throw away challenges they deemed frivolous.

“Where does the Secretary find the authority to have clerks determine which challenges are permissible, such that they don't even have to be adjudicated, much less recorded for future review by anybody?” he asked.

At the same time, an attorney representing the Republican National Committee, Robert Avers, didn’t have a direct answer for how — without those rules — election officials could address a poll challenger making constant objections to voters’ eligibility.

“There has to be this collaboration between the inspector and the challenger,” Avers said, suggesting there could be a discussion before turning to law enforcement and removal.

The determination by the seven-member court could have far-reaching effects on the ability of state officials to fine-tune the administration of Michigan’s election. Liberals have a 4-3 advantage on the court.

— Simon Schuster

Tuesday, June 18

Trump endorses Barrett for Congress

Tom Barrett speaking to supporters
Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Tom Barrett in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District race. (Campaign courtesy photo)

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Republican Tom Barrett in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District race, his second non-incumbent Michigan endorsement of the cycle so far.

Barrett would “be an incredible representative” for the district, Trump said in a Monday message posted to his own social media site, Truth Social.

“Tom bravely served our Country as an Army Helicopter Pilot and, in Congress, he will Secure our Border, Defend our Law Enforcement, Support our Military/Vets, and Protect our always under siege Second Amendment,” Trump wrote. “Tom has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

Barrett, a former Michigan state senator, has no Republican primary challengers. He will take on Curtis Hertel, a Democrat and former colleague in the Michigan Senate, in November. Hertel is also not facing a challenge in the August primary. 

This is Trump’s second non-incumbent Michigan endorsement of the 2024 cycle. In March, he endorsed former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat. He has also endorsed every member of Michigan's Republican congressional delegation for the 2024 cycle.

Jordyn Hermani

Friday, June 14

Dems to fly sky banner over Trump boat parade in Detroit

Ahead of Donald Trump’s visit to Detroit this weekend, the Democratic National Committee is planning to hit the city with advertisements attacking the former president.

Trump supporters traveling down the Detroit River in a “boat parade” on Saturday are expected to be greeted by a plane flying overhead with a banner that says “Trump’s a Crook, Don’t Let Em Sink Ur Boat.”

The sky banner will fly the length of the boat parade’s three-hour route from Lake St. Clair to Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The parade is slated to end next to Huntington Place, the convention center where Trump is scheduled to address a convention of conservative activists hosted by the organization Turning Point Action.

At the time of the parade, Trump is slated to be in a church in northwest Detroit, where his campaign said he will attend a roundtable of community leaders.

“This weekend, Michigan voters will be reminded of how Trump is unfit to lead, not only as a convict, but as a failed leader who left working families behind during his first term,” DNC spokesperson Stephanie Justice said in a statement. “Trump will continue to prop up his extreme, anti-freedom agenda and attack democracy in Detroit, but Michiganders know better than to listen to a crook who always puts his own interests first.”

Detroit has become a focal point for the campaign of President Joe Biden, where he, Vice President Kamala Harris and key surrogates have made repeated stops in recent months. Biden most recently spoke at the Detroit Branch NAACP’s Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner in May.

The DNC is also running digital billboard ads on freeways into the city in English and Spanish, saying “Trump and his fellow crooks are in Detroit asking for your vote. But it’s a scam, they don’t care about you, they’re just out for themselves.”

A statement from Trump’s campaign said “President Donald Trump loves the people of Michigan and is doing what it takes to stop (Joe Biden) from continuing to destroy our great nation.”

Simon Schuster

Friday, June 14

DePerno runs for state Supreme Court despite indictment

Attorney Matthew DePerno, a Trump loyalist currently battling felony charges for his role in an alleged voting machine tampering scheme, is running for the Michigan Supreme Court. 

In a statement, DePerno said he is running for a seat on the state’s highest court, in part, because "activist judges, prosecutors and attorney generals are using their power to prosecute their political enemies."

“After watching the abuse of our legal system both here in Michigan, as well as across the country, it is clear that the Michigan Supreme Court needs members that are committed to following the constitution and rule of law,” he said.

The Michigan GOP confirmed DePerno’s candidacy Thursday morning, listing him as one of three August convention candidates who will compete for the party's nomination to a partial-term seat.

The Kalamazoo-area lawyer has never held elected office or a judicial post. He was the Michigan Republican Republican Party’s nominee for attorney general in 2022 but lost to Democrat Dana Nessel. He also ran for Michigan GOP Chair last year but lost a convention vote to Kristina Karamo, who has since been replaced. 

DePerno gained notoriety in conservative circles for his 2020 lawsuit that alleged a reported vote total in Antrim County was evidence that fraud cost then-President Donald Trump in that year’s election. 

DePerno lost that case, and the Michigan Supreme Court denied his appeal

Along with former state Rep. Daire Rendon and fellow attorney Stefanie Lambert, DePerno is now facing criminal charges for an alleged pro-Trump plot to illegally access voting machines following the 2020 election. He’s pleaded not guilty. 

Supreme Court candidates are technically nonpartisan, but they are nominated at conventions by political parties. 

DePerno is running for a partial-term seat currently held by Justice Kyra Harris Bolden, an appointee of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who is also running to complete the term. 

He’ll have competition: Branch County Judge Patrick William O’Grady and former gubernatorial candidate Alexandria Taylor are also seeking that GOP nomination. 

Also on the ballot is an opening for a full term on the court after Justice David Viviano, a GOP nominee, announced he wouldn't seek re-election. 

Rep. Andrew Fink, R-Adams Township, and Appellate Court Judge Mark Boonstra are both seeking the Republican nomination for that seat, while University of Michigan law professor Kimberly Ann Thomas is seeking the Democratic nomination. 

Lauren Gibbons

Monday, June 10

Tucker Carlson, Kid Rock coming to Grand Rapids

Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson is scheduled to visit Michigan in September as part of a national arena tour featuring conversations about the 2024 presidential election with high profile conservative figures.

Among them: Michigan native Kid Rock, who Carlson plans to interview at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel arena on Sept. 20. Tickets go on sale June 14.

The 15-stop tour will feature conversations “about pressing issues facing our nation today,” including the 2024 presidential election and “today’s American culture,” according to an event listing from Moms for America, a national conservative education advocacy group. 

Carlson’s planned stop will come just over a month after Michigan’s Aug. 6 congressional primary and will undoubtedly serve as a means to advocate for former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee. 

Other guests on Carlson’s national tour include actress Rosanne Barr, former Republican presidential candidate and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, a Georgia Republican.

— Jordyn Hermani

Saturday, June 8

VP Kamala Harris rips Trump conviction in Detroit

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Michigan on Saturday to raise campaign funds and rouse Democratic Party activists as she and President Joe Biden seek re-election this fall. 

Harris first stopped in Ann Arbor for a private fundraiser that included actress Octavia Spencer, according to pool reports. The vice president then visited Black Stone Bookstore and Cultural Center in Ypsilanti before heading to Detroit for the Michigan Democratic Party's annual Legacy Dinner fundraiser. 

Harris spoke at the Detroit event, where she began by addressing the Gaza war and the recent Israeli rescue of four hostages held by Hamas. 

She was briefly interrupted by a protester but reiterated Biden's recent comments that "it is time for this war to end,” according to a recording of the speech. 

Harris also took multiple jabs at former President Donald Trump, the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee who was recently convicted on felony counts in a hush money case in New York. 

"Simply put, Donald Trump really thinks he is above the law," Harris said. “He really does. And this should be disqualifying for anyone who wants to be president of the United States."

Victoria LaCivita, a spokesperson for Team Trump Michigan and the state GOP, dismissed the conviction as the result of a "rigged political witch hunt.” She accused the Biden campaign of focusing on the case "because they are failing Michiganders on the issues every single day."

Friday, June 7

Court dismisses disqualification challenge

Nasser Beydoun, a Democrat running for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat, is still poised to miss the primary ballot after an appeals court panel on Friday rejected a lawsuit contending he was wrongly disqualified.

Beydoun was removed from the ballot last week by the Board of State Canvassers because he used a P.O. box, rather than a required home address, on his nominating petitions — citing personal safety concerns.

A Michigan Court of Appeals panel, in denying his request for relief, wrote that while “not unsympathetic” to Beydoun’s argument, he could have prioritized his privacy and still complied with state law by listing a business address rather than a home address.

Judges, however, have yet to weigh in on a suit filed by Dr. Anil Kumar, a Democrat running in Michigan's 10th Congressional district. Kumar was removed from the ballot after state Bureau of Elections staff “identified at least 47 petition sheets showing clear indications of fraud.” 

If courts decide to take up Kumar’s suit, they’ll need to do so before June 22, when local clerks must begin printing absentee ballots and sending them to military or overseas voters.

Jordyn Hermani

Friday, June 7

Michigan’s most interesting state House races

The battle for the state House is on as Democrats defend their narrow two-seat majority and Republicans look to regain power. As part of our new Bridge Elections FAQ series, reporters Jordyn Hermani and Lauren Gibbons broke down the most interesting state House races to watch.

Wednesday, June 5

Nessel opinion tightens financial disclosure rules

State elections officials can require officeholders to provide more than the bare minimum on new personal financial disclosure forms, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel determined in a formal legal opinion released Wednesday. 

A 2022 ballot proposal approved by Michigan voters and later written into state statute by legislators requires the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and lawmakers to file financial disclosure statements, the first of which were due in April. 

As part of those disclosures, officials were required to list their assets, liabilities, income sources, future employment agreements, gifts, travel reimbursements and more.

Lawmakers who finalized the rules last fall extended disclosure requirements to candidates for those same offices, but they left what critics called gaping "loopholes" allowing filers to obscure monetary values and other information about income sources, as well as assets held by spouses.

In the June 5 opinion, requested by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Nessel concluded that Benson can require additional identifying information about income sources, such as names and addresses associated with stock options or other unearned income. 

“Knowledge of public officers’ financial interests and entanglements permits the public to determine when those officers might be acting for their own gain,” Nessel wrote in the opinion. “Simply disclosing that a public officer has a ‘pension,’ ‘annuity,’ or ‘deferred compensation’ plan would not advance the purpose of the amendment.”

The opinion also allows for more specific disclosure of lobbyist gifts or charitable donations on the officeholders’ behalf. That includes making officials disclose all gifts legally required to be reported by lobbyists, even if the lobbyist failed to do so in their own reports, along with any charitable contributions a lobbyist makes in lieu of a gift to a lawmaker. 

"The constitution requires more than just disclosing a 'list' of gifts and payments - it requires the disclosure of 'information,' meaning 'facts' and 'data,' regarding the gifts or patents made by lobbyists or lobbyist agents,” Nessel’s opinion reads.

Benson, in a statement responding to Nessel’s opinion, said the attorney general’s opinion provides “clarity and certainty” about the new disclosure rules.

“I will continue to fight for laws improving transparency and accountability in our state, limiting the influence of lobbying and financial interests, and allowing better enforcement of disclosure and ethics requirements," Benson said. 

Lauren Gibbons

Tuesday, June 4

Biden immigration order prompts GOP backlash

Amid political pressure over the uptick in illegal crossings from Mexico, President Joe Biden signed an executive order Tuesday allowing his administration to effectively shut down the southern border when the system is “overwhelmed.” 

Biden’s order sparked backlash from Michigan Republicans, who argued the Democratic incumbent is doing too little and too late in an election year, and human rights advocates who claimed the decision would put lives at risk. 

The order aims to bar migrants who unlawfully cross into the U.S. from receiving asylum if the crossings “exceed our ability to deliver timely consequences, as is the case today,” according to a White House statement.

The order will “make it easier for immigration officers to remove those without a lawful basis to remain and reduce the burden on our Border Patrol agents,” the Biden administration said.

According to the Associated Press, Biden’s order would trigger an effective border shutdown when there are a daily average of 2,500 illegal crossings. The border would reopen to asylum seekers once the average declines to 1,500.

Michigan Republican Party Chair Pete Hoekstra and Senate Republican Leader Aric Nesbitt, standing outside the party's headquarters
Michigan Republican Party Chair Pete Hoekstra and Senate Republican Leader Aric Nesbitt, R-Porter Township, were critical of the expected border plan during a Tuesday press conference. (Bridge photo by Lauren Gibbons)

Michigan Republican Party Chair Pete Hoekstra, who is backing former President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, on Tuesday accused Biden of trying to “legitimize a system that is broken,” calling the move a “failed strategy.” 

Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt, R-Porter Township, joined Hoekstra at a morning press conference and suggested the Democratic president should consider revisiting Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy to return most asylum-seekers to that country to wait out their pending immigration cases. 

The Biden campaign countered the GOP criticism by noting Trump helped torpedo a bipartisan border deal this year in Congress, claiming he “ordered his MAGA allies to kill it because he thought it would help him politically.” 

That congressional plan would have added additional border agents, installed drug-detection machines and created emergency protocols for border backlogs, but fell flat after Trump and other conservatives criticized the deal in February. 

“Keeping our communities safe is at the bottom of Trump’s priority list while inciting chaos and division is at the top,” Alyssa Bradley, Michigan communications director for the Biden campaign, said in a statement. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, praised Biden's order but called on Congress to "act on legislation that will strengthen these efforts." Her administration will approve federal requests for Michigan National Guard deployments to the southern border, as it has done under both Trump and Biden, Whitmer added. 

— Lauren Gibbons

Thursday, May 30

Harper challenges Slotkin to four U.S. Senate debates

U.S. Senate candidate Hill Harper is calling for four Democratic debates before the Aug. 6 primary and criticizing his top competitor for bowing out of a planned bipartisan debate at this week’s Mackinac Policy Conference. 

During an island press conference, Harper told reporters he wants to debate Elissa Slotkin in geographically diverse parts of the state in order to get in front of as many voters as possible.

“It's incumbent upon us as candidates to go everywhere across the state and inform voters,” Harper said on the porch of the Grand Hotel, where Slotkin was also meeting with conference attendees. “We should debate right now.” 

Related: Stabenow not endorsing in primary as Michigan’s U.S. Senate race narrows

Slotkin backed out of what was supposed to be a bipartisan Mackinac debate after Republican primary front-runner Mike Rogers declined to participate. 

Slotkin told Bridge Michigan Thursday that she had signed up for the Mackinac debate in April and had pushed for an alternate format after Rogers and Republican Justin Amash declined invites. 

She said her campaign has reached out to Harper’s to discuss a Democratic primary debate format and would also participate in a general election debate. 

“I'm still ready to debate, because that's what I've always done in every race,” Slotkin said. 

— Lauren Gibbons

Wednesday, May 29

Trump coming to Detroit

Former President Donald Trump is slated to return to Michigan in June, this time to speak at The People’s Conference, a three-day conservative conference in Detroit, according to organizers. 

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is among a handful of high-profile conservatives expected to speak at the event, which is scheduled for June 14-16 at the Huntington Place. Organizers did not immediately make clear when Trump would give remarks.

Other announced speakers include ex-Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon and ex-U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat turned Independent.

Hosted by Turning Point Action — the campaign arm of Turning Point USA, a nonprofit organization advocating for conservative politics on high school, college, and university campuses.

Interested parties can request tickets, which start at $50 for those age 26 and under and run up to $525 for older VIP attendees. 

Trump’s return to Michigan comes following campaign stops in Grand Rapids and Saginaw County, where he spoke at length on immigration and electric vehicles, respectively.  

— Jordyn Hermani

Wed. May 29

Lara Trump to speak in Macomb County 

Lara Trump, co-chair of the Republican National Committee and daughter-in-law of former President Donald Trump, is set to headline a Republican fundraising dinner in Macomb County next month. 

The Michigan Republican Party announced Lara Trump as the keynote speaker for the Macomb County Lincoln Day Dinner, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on June 12 at Penna's of Sterling in Sterling Heights. 

Tickets start at $250 for a single seat. VIP tickets, which include a picture with Lara Trump, cost $2,500 and a sponsorship is $5,000.

Lara Trump became co-chair for the RNC — the national party's top fundraising post — in March alongside Michael Whatley. 

Ronna McDaniel of Michigan had led the RNC since 2017 but resigned in late February at the suggestion of Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Trump is expected to take on Democratic President Joe Biden in a rematch of the 2020 election. Biden won Michigan by 154,188 votes. 

The state is one of a handful that could determine the election this fall. Both Biden and Trump campaigned Michigan this month. Biden spoke at an NAACP Dinner in Detroit, while Trump held a rally in Saginaw County. 

Tuesday, May 28

Tlaib suggests voters may withhold Biden votes

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib told a crowd this weekend that voters upset with President Joe Biden’s support of Israel “aren’t going to forget this in November.”

Tlaib, D-Detroit, made her remarks Saturday at the People’s Conference for Palestine, a three-day event in Detroit calling for Israel to stop its offensive in the region and for “an end to all U.S. aid for Israel.” Conservative outlets have accused the conference of supporting terrorist-aligned organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

As part of her speech, Tlaib slammed both Biden “and my colleagues in Congress” for not better supporting anti-war student protests at universities across the country.

“It is cowardly,” Tlaib added, “but we’re not gonna forget in November, are we?” 

Tlaib has long been a vocal opponent of Biden’s support for Israel as it continues its war against Hamas in Gaza. She was one of the handful of elected officials to urge voting “uncommitted” in Michigan’s February presidential primary as a way to protest Israel’s ongoing war.

About 13% of Michigan’s Democratic primary voters did end up voting “uncommitted” earlier this year, the effort seeing a large turn out in places like Dearborn and Hamtramck, cities with a heavy Muslim or Arab American populations.

Jordyn Hermani

Tuesday, May 28

Slotkin debuts first TV ad

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin has released her first television ad buy in her bid for the U.S. Senate, highlighting her CIA experience under the past presidential administrations of George W. Bush, a Republican, and Barack Obama, a Democrat.

The 30-second clip is part of a multi-million dollar campaign which will run on broadcast, cable, digital and specifically on Black radio stations across Michigan, according to her campaign.

“For me, service is not about partisanship,” Slotkin, a Democrat running for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat, says in the ad. “It’s about doing what’s right to protect our country. … I refuse to let politics split us apart.”

Slotkin is one of three Democrats running for the open seat. Others include Detroit actor and author Hill Harper and Dearborn business owner Nasser Beydoun.

Beydoun’s status on the ballot could be in jeopardy after a Board of Elections review determined many of his signatures are likely invalid.

Republicans in the running include former U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, physician Sherry O’Donnell, businessman Sandy Pensler and former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers. 

Jordyn Hermani

Friday, May 24

Rogers has signatures

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rogers has enough valid signatures to make Michigan's Aug. 6 primary ballot, but Democratic candidate Nasser Beydoun does not, the Michigan Bureau of Elections said Friday. 

The bipartisan Board of State Canvassers, which is set to meet next week to certify candidate nominating petitions, will have the final word.

Beydoun is one of 17 candidates the Bureau is recommending canvassers keep off the ballot because of invalid signatures, including seven candidates for U.S. House. If canvassers follow the recommendations, it would be the second major election cycle in a row where multiple Michigan candidates were disqualified. 

Bureau staff said Beydoun shouldn't make the cut because his nominating petitions listed a P.O. Box rather than a required street address, making all signatures they reviewed invalid. Fellow Democratic Senate candidate Hill Harper had challenged Beydoun's petitions on similar grounds. 

For Rogers, the frontrunner for the GOP Senate nomination, the Bureau effectively dismissed a late challenge filed by the Michigan Democratic Party and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who had claimed evidence of "potential fraud" on the former congressman's petitions. 

Rogers appears to have more than enough signatures to make the ballot, the Bureau said in a report

Below, you'll find a full list of candidates the Michigan Bureau of Elections is recommending canvassers disqualify. You can read the bureau reports here.  

  • U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Nasser Beydoun
  • 1st District U.S. House Republican candidate Josh Saul
  • 1st District U.S. House Republican candidate JD Wilson
  • 8th District U.S. House Republican candidate Nikki Snyder
  • 10th District U.S. House candidate Anil Kumar
  • 10th District U.S. House Democratic candidate Rhonda Powell
  • 12th District U.S. House Democratic candidate Ryan Foster
  • 12th District U.S. House Republican candidate Steven Elliott
  • 12th District U.S. House Republican candidate Hassan Nehme
  • 2nd District Court of Appeals candidate Lisa Neilson 
  • 35th District Judge candidate Maria Ruggirello 
  • 36th District Judge candidate Vanessa Moss
  • 36th District Judge candidate Herman Griffin
  • 44th District Judge candidate Belem Morales
  • 3rd Circuit Judge candidate Charles Longstreet II
  • 6th Circuit Judge candidate Nadine Renee Hatten 
  • 54th Circuit Judge candidate Hugh A. Woodrow

Friday, May 24

Dems claim ‘potential fraud’ in Mike Rogers signatures

Democrats are renewing their call for the state Board of Canvassers to review nominating petition signatures from U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rogers and potentially disqualify the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. 

The Michigan Democratic Party and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee missed the April 30 deadline to formally challenge signatures but last week first urged the state to investigate petitions from four GOP candidates. 

In a new letter released Friday, Democrats alleged "potential fraud" associated with petition sheets from 18 circulators who collected a combined 12,293 of Rogers' 30,000 signatures. They also provided declarations from six voters whose names appear on Rogers' petitions but say they never signed. 

The Rogers campaign dismissed the latest Democratic letter as baseless.

"It's as illegitimate as the last one," spokesperson Chris Gustafson said in a text message to Bridge. "Democrats didn't file a legal challenge in time and are lashing out because Mike Rogers will be on the ballot and they know they can't beat him."

But Democrats contend they've identified various “errors and markers" on Rogers' petitions that are similar to fraudulent signatures that led canvassers to kick multiple GOP gubernatorial candidates off the ballot in 2022. 

Among other things, the new letter questions the legitimacy of signatures from areas of the state geographically far apart, and voters listed on nominating petitions who are not registered to vote in Michigan.

“If the Board finds that any circulator submitted a fraudulent petition sheet, it should invalidate all of that circulator’s sheets—for any candidate, in addition to any signatures across the petition that are found to be invalid for other reasons,” Chris Trebilcock, an attorney representing Democrats, wrote in the letter.

Wednesday, May 22

Senate debate canceled as Rogers, Slotkin bow out

A scheduled bipartisan U.S. Senate debate at the Mackinac Policy Conference has been canceled after top-polling candidates declined to participate, organizers announced Wednesday. 

The top three polling candidates in each party were invited earlier this month to partake in a bipartisan debate May 30 on Mackinac Island as part of the annual conference that attracts politicians and the state’s top business leaders.

But the Detroit Regional Chamber said Wednesday that Republican Mike Rogers and Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin did not accept the invitation, an outcome chamber officials characterized as an unexpected and “deeply concerning” development.  

“The leading candidates' refusal to engage in this vital forum… undermines our democratic process and hampers our state's progress,” chamber officials wrote in a statement. “This is a clear reflection of today’s political dynamics, which increasingly discourage candidates from directly addressing voters' concerns.”

The Slotkin campaign disputed the chamber's characterization, however, saying she had initially agreed to a debate with all six candidates but changed course after learning at "the last minute" that Rogers and fellow Republican Justin Amash would not participate. 

"We have been clear that if an equally partisan debate had been arranged, we would have been happy to participate," said Austin Cook, a Slotkin campaign spokesperson. 

Of the six candidates invited, only three — Republican Sandy Pensler and Democrats Hill Harper and Nasser Beydoun — agreed to participate, according to the chamber.

Tuesday, May 21

Adam Hollier booted from ballot

Wayne County has disqualified Adam Hollier from the ballot in the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary in August, concluding he didn't submit enough valid signatures to oppose incumbent Rep. Shri Thanedar, D-Detroit.

The decision from County Clerk Cathy Garrett comes days after her staff estimated that just 863 of the 1,553 signatures Hollier submitted were valid. He needed 1,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. 

Thanedar challenged Hollier's signatures after several appeared to be identical or erroneous. In a Monday statement, Hollier said he was "extremely disappointed."

"While I put my trust in someone who let us down in the collection of signatures, ultimately the leadership of the campaign falls on me and I must hold myself to a higher standard," Hollier said in a statement. "It is also clear that our state’s system of ballot access and petition collection is sorely in need of reform."

Hollier is a Detroiter and former state senator who was widely viewed as Thanedar's chief opponent in the overwhelmingly Democratic district. The other candidates in the Democratic primary are Detroit City Council member Mary Waters and attorney Shakira Hawkins. 

Tuesday, May 21

White House corrects Biden

The White House corrected several misstatements by President Joe Biden this week when it posted an official transcript of his Sunday campaign speech at an NAACP dinner in Detroit

The Affordable Care Act has saved families about $800 a year in premiums, not the $8,000 Biden cited in his speech, according to the transcript, which includes strikethroughs to preserve but correct faulty comments. 

Biden also claimed then-President Barack Obama sent him to Detroit to help the city during the "pandemic.” He actually meant the "recession," which the Obama administration was battling in 2009 when Biden was vice president.

Among the other mistakes: Biden misquoted GOP rival Donald Trump as saying there would be "bloodshed" if he loses the November election rematch. Trump actually used the word "bloodbath" and has said his claim was about the potential impact for the auto industry. 

Friday, May 17

Speaker Johnson raising funds in Michigan’s 7th Congressional district

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson is expected to be in Michigan this weekend, appearing at a private fundraiser in support of Tom Barrett, a Republican running in Michigan’s swing 7th Congressional district.

The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at the home of west Michigan restaurateur Johnny Brann Jr., according to an invitation distributed by the 7th District Congressional Republican Committee. Tickets start at $500 per person.

Barrett, the only Republican in the race, will take on Democrat Curtis Hertel, a former colleague in the Michigan Senate, in November for a seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly. 

Johnson’s visit comes the day prior to a visit from President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to receive an award at the annual NAACP dinner in Detroit on May 19, and further highlights the national attention on Michigan and its swing state status ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

— Jordyn Hermani

Friday, May 17

Signature fiasco threatens Thanedar challenger

Former state Senator Adam Hollier does not have enough valid signatures to challenge U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar in the 13th congressional district Democratic primary, according to a new staff report from the Wayne County Clerk’s office. 

The report – which is not a final ruling – could be a major blow to Hollier, who had secured some high-profile endorsements in his bid to challenge the Democratic incumbent. Staff estimated that just 863 of the 1,553 signatures Hollier submitted were valid. He needed 1,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. 

Hollier’s campaign told The Detroit Free Press on Thursday that they are in “the process of carefully reviewing our next steps” as Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett prepares to make a final determination in coming days. 

Thanedar, D-Detroit, had challenged Hollier’s signatures and told Bridge he thinks the Wayne County staff “pretty much agreed with our findings.” He said he hopes “local voters continue their trust in me” and elect him to a second term.

The challenge harkens back to the signature fraud scandal that rocked the 2022 GOP gubernatorial primary, when five of 10 candidates were denied a spot on the ballot because paid circulators had falsified signatures. 

— Simon Schuster

Thursday, May 16

Kristina Karamo loses fight for Michigan GOP (again)

The court case that forced a pivotal change in Michigan Republican Party leadership effectively ended this week, but an attorney representing ousted chair Kristina Karamo said they are considering an appeal.

Circuit Court Judge Joseph Rossi on Wednesday granted summary disposition in a lawsuit that had already forced Karamo out of her state party post due to a contested vote to remove her. In a decision from the bench, Rossi also canceled a scheduled June trial.

“We're very appreciative of the hard work and diligence that the court gave this case,” said attorney Jonathan Lauderbach, who represents a faction of Karamo dissidents who took over the party. “The court was very thorough in its analysis, and arrived at a well reasoned conclusion.”

Long-simmering dissent toward Karamo culminated in a Jan. 6 meeting, where about a third of GOP state committee members used a quirk of party bylaws to remove Karamo from the role. Two weeks later the same faction met again and elected the current chair, former congressman Pete Hoekstra, to lead the party.

What followed was weeks of turmoil as the party split under two factions that both proclaimed themselves the rightful party leaders.

The lawsuit filed by Hoekstra’s faction brought a degree of resolution in late February, when Rossi issued an injunction barring Karamo from claiming to lead the party, acting as chair or using its resources. 

Karamo’s attorney, the party’s one-time general counsel Dan Hartman, said Thursday they are considering an appeal at the state and federal levels.

— Simon Schuster

Wednesday, May 15

Joe Biden, Donald Trump agree to debates

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump said Wednesday they are planning to debate on June 27 and Sept. 10.  Bridge Michigan is planning to fact-check any state-related claims. 

The debates — set to be hosted by CNN and ABC, respectively — will mark the first time the candidates have sparred on-stage since the 2020 campaign. It also marks a shift for Biden, who until recently was non-committal on whether he would debate Trump during the 2024 cycle.

Biden signaled his willingness to debate early Wednesday, telling Trump in a video to “pick the dates, Donald.” Less than an hour later, Trump agreed, posting to his own social media platform Truth Social that it was “time for a debate … just tell me when, I’ll be there.”

The presumed Democratic and Republican nominees are foregoing a debate schedule previously announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which called for four debates across September and October. 

Bridge will follow and fact-check the presidential debates, continuing efforts undertaken during the 2020 election cycle to provide context and clarity for Michigan-related claims by the leading candidates for the White House. 

— Jordyn Hermani

Tuesday, May 14

Jill Biden to visit Marquette

First Lady Jill Biden is planning several stops in Michigan over the next few days, starting Thursday in Marquette.

Details are scant about her Marquette appearance, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that she and Douglas Emhoff, Vice President Kamala Harris’ husband, will speak to tribal members at noon Friday in Sault Ste. Marie before touring the Soo Locks at 1 p.m.

Jill Biden plans to visit Midland on Friday and appear in Detroit on Saturday, according to On Sunday, Joe Biden plans to deliver a speech at the Detroit Branch NAACP’s Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner.

Jill Biden was in Michigan just a few weeks ago, visiting Grand Rapids in late April.

Marquette last had a presidential visit in 2011. President George W. Bush visited Marquette for a reelection campaign rally in 2004. — Simon Schuster

Tuesday, May 14

Lisa McClain hospitalized

U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain was hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy Monday night, her office wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“This unexpected medical emergency will result in her absence from Congress for the next few days,” the post said. “She is currently recovering and expects to be back soon.”

Additional information wasn’t immediately provided. — Simon Schuster

Tuesday, May 14

Big buy planned for Senate race

A conservative group plans to spent $9.4 million on ads for the open Senate race in Michigan, which is already expected to be one of the nation’s most competitive, according to published reports.

The group, One Nation, plans to spend a total of $88 million on a “Stop the Insanity” campaign of radio, mail, TV and digital ads in contested Senate races, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Montana, POLITICO first reported on Monday.

The Michigan ads are expected to start after the August primary and will focus on inflation and immigration. One Nation is closely aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

It’s the latest big investment in an open state that observers predict will help decide the U.S. Senate majority come fall. 

In March, Senate Majority PAC, a group affiliated with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, announced plans to reserve $14 million in Michigan ad buys as part of a multi-state effort to defend the party’s majority. 

Among individual candidates, Democratic front-runner Elissa Slotkin has thus far dominated fundraising in the race to succeed outgoing U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. 

Slotkin, who currently represents mid-Michigan’s 7th Congressional District in Congress, raised $4.4 million in the first quarter of 2024 and reported $8.6 million in the bank. On the Republican side, business executive Sandy Pensler reported $2.1 million in cash on hand — most of which was self-funded — and former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers raised just over $1 million over the same period. 

— Lauren Gibbons

Monday, May 13

GOP pushes absentee voting

The Michigan GOP is urging its members to add their names to the state's permanent absentee voter list, arguing Republicans “cannot afford to underestimate the strategic importance” of voting by mail in 2024.

The Monday appeal marked a notable tone shift for state Republicans, some of whom joined President Donald Trump in casting doubt on the integrity of Michigan’s absentee security measures during the 2020 presidential election. 

Michigan Democrats “possess a formidable advantage” when it comes to voters on the state’s permanent absentee ballot list, outnumbering Republican sign-ups by a two-to-one ratio, the state GOP said in an email

“This stark reality handicaps our ability to mobilize low propensity voters effectively, particularly through permanent (absentee) voting in Michigan.”

Absentee voting played a pivotal role in recent Michigan elections since voters in 2018 approved a measure to expand its use. 

Roughly 1.1 million people voted absentee in the 2022 gubernatorial election, and roughly 1.8 million people voted absentee during the 2020 presidential election. Democrats performed well both years, with Trump and Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon losing their respective election bids. 

— Jordyn Hermani

Friday, May 10

Justin Amash says ‘we don’t impeach presidents enough’

Michigan U.S. Senate candidate Justin Amash spoke on X Spaces, formerly Twitter Spaces, Thursday night, criticizing fellow Republican hopeful Mike Rogers and defending his vote for then-President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

Rogers, a former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is endorsed by Trump. But Amash criticized his past support of surveillance programs that some civil liberties advocates have called an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.

“Mike Rogers is one of those people who would stand there right alongside (South Carolina Sen.) Lindsey Graham, telling Donald Trump to go to war, (telling) Trump to sign more surveillance into law, telling Donald Trump to spend more money,” Amash said in the call.

Amash, a congressman who represented the Grand Rapids area from 2011 until 2021, declined to run for reelection in 2020 after leaving the Republican Party and voting to impeach Trump over a phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Defending the impeachment vote, he argued it was a principled stand against executive authority he would have taken under Obama or Biden, too.

"I believe that all of the past three presidents have committed impeachable offenses, and in fact, what I think is a big problem in our system right now is that we don't impeach presidents enough,” Amash said. "I've always been very strongly against executive abuse. And that shouldn't be surprising. I'm a libertarian.”

He said he viewed Trump’s request to Zelenskyy that he investigate now-President Joe Biden’s family “as some kind of attempt at getting a personal benefit."

Amash is one of four candidates running in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. He’s facing Rogers, physician Sherry O’Donnell and businessman Sandy Pensler.

In a recent poll from The Hill/Emerson, Amash had just 7% support from likely voters, compared to Rogers’ 32% and Pensler’s 2%. O’Donnell did not register and 54% were undecided with a 4.1% margin of error.

If elected, Amash said he would readily break with Trump on issues where he disagrees.

"I don't know if I've changed my opinion on Trump,” he said. “It's sort of settled into my mind who he is. I think that there are good aspects and there are bad aspects. My view as a senator (is) I will support what he's doing when he's doing the right thing." — Simon Schuster

Wednesday May 8

First U.S. Senate debate set for Mackinac Policy Conference

Michigan’s first 2024 U.S. Senate debate will take place May 30 at the Mackinac Policy Conference, the Detroit Regional Chamber announced Wednesday. 

The debate, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. May 30, will be bipartisan, and invites have been extended to the top three polling candidates from each party, Sandy Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said during a Wednesday morning press conference.

The debate moderators are Rick Albin of WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids and Devin Scillian of WDIV-TV in Detroit.

Baruah said the debate format is unique in that candidates from both parties will be onstage at the same time, and “really pushes candidates to a broad audience as opposed to speaking to their base voters.” 

Mike Rogers
Republican Mike Rogers among U.S. Senate candidates invited to bipartisan debate at the Mackinac Policy Conference. (Bridge file photo)

All three Democratic candidates — U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, actor Hill Harper and business executive Nasser Beydoun — are eligible to participate. 

Invited Republican candidates include former U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers and Justin Amash and business executive Sandy Pensler. A fourth Republican candidate, Sherry O’Donnell, is not eligible to participate under debate rules.

— Lauren Gibbons

Wednesday May 8

Ottawa Impact member recalled in defeat for ultraconservative faction

Ottawa Impact received its first electoral defeat Tuesday after a member of the ultraconservative faction of county commissioners was defeated in a recall election.

Democrat Chris Kleinjans bested incumbent Republican Lucy Ebel, earning 60% of the vote in a special election that saw 20% turnout in what has been a reliably conservative county, according to unofficial election results.

“The voters of District 2 made it clear that they reject the chaos, fiscal irresponsibility, and disrespect for county employees that exemplify Lucy Ebel and Ottawa Impact’s style of government, and I will work every day to turn that around,” Kleinjans said in a statement.

He called the election “a referendum on Ottawa Impact.”

Ottawa Impact candidates took control of the county commission in 2023, when eight of nine Ottawa Impact-backed candidates were elected to the 11-member commission, running on a platform that assailed COVID-19 restrictions and leaned into the culture wars.

The group’s tenure has been marked by acrimony and turmoil, as a monthslong effort to fire the county public health director because of her pandemic  restrictions failed and the commission faces a lawsuit brought by the county administrator they hired in their first meeting and fired in March, John Gibbs.

Ottawa Impact’s supermajority lasted only three months after Jacob Bonnema broke away from the slate, dissatisfied with what he called a lack of transparency. He was later censured and removed from a committee leadership position.

Another Ottawa Impact member, Rebekah Curran, is running for U.S. Senate and didn’t file for reelection. She did not submit required signatures to qualify for the Senate GOP primary, however, after raising less than $3,000 for her senate bid, according to the latest campaign finance disclosures.

Ebel, who still is set to appear in the August 6 primary election, would have to win back her seat from Kleinjans for the faction to retain an outright majority on the commission. All Ottawa Impact members face Republican primary challengers.

— Simon Schuster

Tuesday, May 7

Nessel slams Trump over abortion comments

With the presidential election approaching, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and other Democrats continue to warn reproductive rights may be jeopardized under presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump. 

Trump has "no interest in protecting women" or abortion access, Nessel claimed Tuesday in Lansing at a coffee shop event organized by President Joe Biden's re-election campaign. 

With Trump, “really, anything goes when it comes to persecuting women for having the audacity … to reproduce,” Nessel added.

Her critique came after Trump appeared to backpedal on comments he made regarding states possibly monitoring women’s pregnancies to track whether they had an abortion. 

"They might do that," Trump initially told Time Magazine, before attempting to walk back that suggestion this weekend on his Truth Social website. 

“After 50 years, Abortion is now up to the States," Trump wrote Sunday.

Nessel was joined Tuesday by two women denied abortions in Texas and Louisiana, which barred the procedure after Trump nominees on the U.S. Supreme Court helped overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022. 

“What I went through was nothing short of barbaric … this is directly the result of Donald Trump,” said Amanda Zurawski of Texas, who said she nearly died when she was forced to deliver a stillborn girl after going into septic shock. 

Under Texas’ narrow abortion law, doctors cannot utilize abortion until a woman’s life is considered in danger. Even after the birth, Zurawski said she went into sepsis again and spent three days in intensive care. 

Jordyn Hermani

Monday, May 6

Whitmer, Thanedar take heat over Israel-Hamas war

Defaced Shri Thander sign on the side of a community center in Detroit
A courtesy photo of a defaced sign of U.S. Representative Shri Thanedar.

Two high-profile Michigan Democrats faced public criticism this weekend as pro-Palestinian demonstrators continue to call for an immediate end to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. 

Video widely shared on social media appeared to show protesters confronting Whitmer at the Bobcat Bonnie’s restaurant in Ypsilanti, where they waved Palestinian flags, chanted and played drums.

Whitmer’s office declined to comment on the incident, and the restaurant did not respond to requests for more information. 

The governor does not control foreign policy, but she is a co-chair of Democratic President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign. Shortly after the Oct. 7, 2023, attacks in Israel, Whitmer spoke at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield and said, “We stand with Israel. And Israel has a right to defend itself.” Later that month, she canceled a visit to a mosque in Dearborn.

Whitmer has since declined to weigh in on calls for a permanent ceasefire, or say whether she’d characterize the conflict as a genocide, suggesting it is a term "used to inflame and divide us." 

Separately, a Detroit community center sponsored by and named after Thanedar, was tagged with pro-Palestinian graffiti over the weekend, the first-term congressman said on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

The phrases “ceasefire” and “free Palestine” were scrawled on a wall and horns were drawn on a photo of Thanedar, who previously has called for an end to the conflict. 

“I support efforts for a ceasefire in Gaza, which must begin with Hamas releasing all hostages and Hamas's military infrastructure being dismantled,” Thanedar said in a February statement. 

“Alongside this, we must ensure humanitarian aid reaches the Palestinian people directly, differentiating their plight from the actions of Hamas.”

More than 34,700 Palestinians have reportedly been killed in the war, which began after Hamas militants entered Israel and killed close to 1,200 people in October. Israeli leaders have vowed to continue the fight until Hamas is destroyed and all hostages taken in the October raids released.

Outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Detroit Monday, protestors calling for a ceasefire were reportedly blocked from getting close to the event by Detroit police officers.

Simon Schuster

Friday, May 3

Whitmer calls 'baloney' on Trump abortion stance

Voters “cannot trust anything that Donald Trump says when it comes to abortion,” Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer claimed during a Flint roundtable this week, panning recent comments Trump made on the subject as “baloney.”

Whitmer’s critique came the same day Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, rallied at MBS International Airport in Michigan’s highly competitive Saginaw County. As part of that stop, Trump thanked the U.S. Supreme Court “for the wisdom and the courage” to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 court decision which previously established precedent for abortion access. 

Trump has long danced around the topic of enacting a federal abortion ban, recently telling Time Magazine that there “will never be that chance” as it’s unlikely the move has enough votes to clear the U.S. Senate. Last month, he said states should decide the issue.

Trump allies, however, are reportedly developing plans to try to restrict abortion nationwide, calling for things like enforcing a 19th century law that could make mailing abortion pills illegal.“No one should take any comfort” in Trump saying he won’t have the chance to sign a national abortion ban “because he doesn't have 60 votes in the Senate,” Whitmer told reporters from WNEM-TV and other outlets Wednesday. “Baloney.”

In his recent Time interview, Trump also said it was “totally irrelevant” where he stood on possibly prosecuting women for having abortions in states with restrictive bans.

“I think they might do that,” Trump said when asked about actions states with bans could take, such as monitoring a woman’s pregnancy. But he again reiterated that it didn’t matter what he thought of the idea, “because the states are going to make those decisions.” — Jordyn Hermani

Friday, May 3

Signature dispute imperils Thanedar challenger

Democratic U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar is alleging that more than half the nominating signatures of his most prominent primary opponent, former state Sen. Adam Hollier, are invalid.

Hollier needs 1,000 voter signatures from within the Detroit-based 13th congressional district to qualify for the ballot. But a consultant hired by Thanedar contends just 761 of the 1,555 signatures Hollier submitted are valid. 

In a complaint to election officials, Thanedar’s campaign argued most signatures on the petitions collected by paid circulators are either duplicated, from ineligible signers, have inaccurate voter information or hadn’t been filled out correctly by the petition circulator. Some pages of signatures look strikingly similar.

The challenge harkens back to the signature fraud scandal that rocked the 2022 GOP gubernatorial primary, when five of 10 candidates were denied a spot on the ballot because paid circulators had falsified signatures. 

“As responsible stewards of the democratic process, we cannot allow such discrepancies to go unaddressed and have asked Wayne County Clerk’s office to investigate,” Thanedar campaign wrote in a press release. 

Hollier told the Detroit Free Press that voters “should be deeply frustrated that their Congressmember is trying to disenfranchise their ability to vote.”

But a columnist at the Free Press found the name of her colleague, reporter Tresa Baldas, among the allegedly falsified signatures — and Baldas insisted she has never signed a petition.

Thanedar was first elected to Congress in 2022, coming first in a nine-candidate primary field with 28.3% of the vote, with Hollier less than 4,000 votes behind him in the heavily Democratic district. Four primary candidates including Hollier have announced campaigns to challenge him this year. — Simon Schuster

Wednesday, May 1: 

Trump bashes criminal charges in rally

FREELAND — Fighting criminal charges that threaten his comeback campaign, former President Donald Trump on Wednesday used a Michigan speech to suggest he is facing harsher treatment than notorious mobster Al Capone.

“Has anyone ever heard about him?,” Trump said of Capone, the Chicago-based crime boss who purportedly had several hideouts throughout Michigan.

“He would kill people if he looked at them and didn’t like them … He got indicted less than I did.” 

Capone, however, was actually indicted on more than 5,000 violations under the prohibition-era Volstead Act, according to federal records. 

trump in michigan
Chris Cooper of Freeland and Pat Fairbrother of Cadillac load a life-sized cutout of former President Donald Trump into their vehicle in preparation for Wednesday's rally at MBS International Airport in Freeland. (Bridge photo by Dale Young)

Trump's campaign rally in Saginaw County came amid a New York "hush money" trial focused on allegations he used campaign funds to keep an adult film star from going public with adultery allegations ahead of the 2016 election. 

Related: Trump warns of tax hikes, EV doom in Michigan rally. Here are the facts

Judge Juan M. Merchan on Tuesday declared Trump in contempt of court for making critical statements of jurors and witnesses in the case. Another hearing is expected Thursday. 

Trump is also battling federal charges for his alleged role in a plot to overturn 2020 election results in swing states like Michigan, along with related criminal charges in Georgia. 

Trump vehemently denied wrongdoing during his Michigan speech and criticized what he called "fake cases."

— Lauren Gibbons

Wednesday, May 1

Trump supporters flood Saginaw County

FREELAND — Former President Donald Trump has drawn thousands of enthusiastic fans to Saginaw County for his latest Michigan rally. His allies say it’s a sign the former president’s momentum is building as he fights to retake the White House in November. 

Supporters descended onto the Avflight hangar at MBS International Airport in Freeland on Wednesday, enjoying warm, sunny weather and the festival-like atmosphere typical of the former president’s rallies: MAGA merchandise booths, food trucks hawking hot dogs and prominent Republicans making the case for Trump. 

Supporters of former President Donald Trump prepare for his rally in Freeland, Michigan. (Bridge photo by Dale Young)
Supporters of former President Donald Trump prepare for his rally in Freeland, Michigan. (Bridge photo by Dale Young)

People are recognizing things were better under Donald Trump,” Michigan Republican Party Chair Pete Hoekstra told Bridge Michigan ahead of the former president’s speech. “There's no doubt that one of the things that's really fueling momentum is the chaos that we're seeing with Joe Biden.”

Warm-up speeches at the Trump rally featured several current and former Michigan Republican candidates, including U.S. Senate hopeful Mike Rogers, state lawmakers and Tudor Dixon, who unsuccessfully challenged Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the 2022 election. 

Citing immigration issues, high inflation and global unrest, they stressed Michigan’s importance in the coming election, arguing flipping the swing state would be key to ending Biden’s tenure. 

“We are going to work together to do something that Democrats don't believe that we can do: win the state of Michigan,” Rogers said. 

Lauren Gibbons

Wednesday, May 1

Biden heading back to Detroit

President Joe Biden is headed to Detroit on May 19 for the 2024 NAACP Detroit Branch Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner. The event, which typically draws about 10,000 people to Huntington Place convention center, plans to honor Biden with a lifetime achievement award.

Related: Biden returning to Michigan for NAACP dinner in Detroit

It will be Biden’s third visit to Michigan this year and comes as polling shows he is in a tough race with former President Donald Trump in the state. Some African-American leaders also warned that Biden and fellow Democrats cannot take their votes for granted this November.

Biden visited Saginaw, a majority-Black city, in March. — Simon Schuster

Tuesday, April 30

MBS Airport expects big crowd for Trump

DETROIT — President Donald Trump is set to host a rally in mid-Michigan on Wednesday, prompting condemnation on Tuesday from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, union leaders and other Democratic officials over labor issues.

During a media event at IBEW Local 58 in Detroit, Duggan touted the Biden administration’s efforts to incorporate union workers into clean energy jobs and argued Detroit is helped by a president “who sees the world through the eyes of folks trying to make a good living every day.” 

Trump, the presumed Republican nominee for the presidency, is slated to return to Michigan Wednesday at MBS International Airport in Saginaw County, a union-heavy swing county that has voted for the winning presidential candidate in every general election since 2008.

Mike Duggan on stage at an event
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan during at IBEW Local 58 in Detroit. (Bridge photo by Lauren Gibbons)

Trump rallied at the airport during his 2020 campaign, and officials expect crowds of 10,000 to 15,000 on Wednesday. Doors open at 2 p.m. and Trump is expected to speak at 6 p.m. 

 Airport officials told WNEM-TV 5 they expect traffic jams for miles.

Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee, previously campaigned in the city of Saginaw in March at a private organizing meeting with supporters.

Both candidates are backing on strong support of blue-collar workers, with Biden touting the endorsement of several unions, while Trump last year came to Michigan during the UAW strike to appeal to autoworkers.

Pat Devlin of the Michigan Building Trades Council argued that Michigan’s blue-collar workers wouldn’t be wooed by Trump this time around. 

“Donald Trump made promises he couldn’t keep,” Devlin said Tuesday. “He made America weaker and hurt our workers.”  — Lauren Gibbons

Tuesday, April 30

Academic, business leaders seek three U.S. Senate debates

A coalition of universities, business groups and community organizations are proposing three general election debates aimed at giving voters more unfiltered air time with candidates. 

The newly-formed Michigan Debate Task Force plans to host general election debates in west Michigan, northern Michigan and southeast Michigan in September and October, focusing on both statewide and region-specific issues. 

The goal is to shake up how debates are handled in Michigan, where candidates’ campaigns determine the logistics and “hold all the cards,” said David Dulio, political science professor and director of Oakland University’s Center for Civic Engagement.

“What we want to do is take that out of the equation and say, ‘Here are three chances that the entire state can hear from you, and we think you ought to take the voters up on that,’” said Dulio, a lead organizer of the task force. 

The group hopes to expand public debate offerings for statewide races in future cycles, including 2026’s gubernatorial election. 

— Lauren Gibbons

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