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Michigan ‘fake elector’ takes on top Democrat in bid for state House

two women standing in a courtroom
Michele Lundgren, left, and Meshawn Maddock, right, talk briefly during a December 2023 hearing in Lansing’s 54-A District Court. Both face felony charges alleging they forged documents in a failed effort to keep former President Donald Trump in the White House. (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Michele Lundgren, one of 15 Republicans facing ‘fake elector’ charges, is running for the state House in Detroit
  • Her likely Democratic opponent is state House Speaker Joe Tate
  • Lundgren acknowledges she’s a long shot in the heavily Democratic district

Michele Lundgren knows she’s a long-shot candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives. 

She’s a Republican living in the Democratic stronghold of Detroit, and a political newcomer with little name recognition. She’s also challenging one of the most powerful Democrats in the state — and fighting felony charges for allegedly trying to help overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss.

But the 74-year-old Cass Corridor resident says she’s serious about taking on House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, telling Bridge Michigan she feels strongly about representing the party she believes in.

Michele Lundgren; she is wearing a read hat and black shirt
Michele Lundgren (Courtesy)

“I'm a novice, and I don't have any real background in political science or politics,” she said. “But when somebody steps up and says, ‘We've got no one else,’ I make an effort to try to learn as much as I can and represent our party and our district as best as possible.”


Lundgren is unopposed in the Republican primary in Michigan’s 9th state House District, meaning she’s a lock for the general election. That’ll likely be against Tate, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former professional football player who helped deliver Democratic majority control in Lansing.

Democrats don’t consider Lundgren a threat. Detroit-based districts trend heavily Democratic, and Tate is the highest-ranking lawmaker up for re-election this year.

House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, standing up with the suit
House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, pictured at a 2023 press conference, is facing both primary challenges and a general election challenge. His primary focus this cycle is retaining the House Democratic majority. (Bridge photo by Lauren Gibbons)

But party officials are concerned by what they view as efforts to normalize beliefs that President Joe Biden’s 2020 win in Michigan was illegitimate, despite reams of evidence to the contrary. 

“That someone who is…one of the fake electors that have been charged with felonies is running against our leader, our speaker of the state House — the idea of it is almost hard to fathom,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes told Bridge. “It's a little shocking to me.”

Lundgren is one of 15 Republicans accused of falsely filling out paperwork that asserted Trump won Michigan, even though Biden won by 154,188 votes. The case remains pending in Ingham County’s 54-A District Court.

The document purported to be an official certificate awarding the state’s presidential electors to Trump in what Attorney General Dana Nessel claims was an attempt to keep him in the White House. Nessel, a Democrat, has argued the signers’ actions “undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our elections” and warrant criminal prosecution. 

If found guilty on eight felony counts ranging from conspiracy and election law forgery to uttering and publishing, Lundgren could spend more than a decade in prison. Most of the charges are punishable by up to 14 years behind bars, while others are five-year felonies.


A preliminary exam for Lundgren and other defendants is expected to resume May 28. If the judge sends the case to trial, it's unlikely it will be resolved by the Nov. 5 general election. 

Lundgren and other co-defendants maintain that they did nothing wrong. Calling the ongoing case a “nightmare,” Lundgren said she believed she was putting her name to a sign-in sheet for a meeting and was unaware it would be passed off as an elector document. 

The Detroit Republican said she became interested in politics shortly after Trump announced his first presidential run in 2016. She attended rallies and eventually became a local party delegate. 

In 2022, Lundgren said she was approached to run for state House, and she launched an unsuccessful campaign against Rep. Abraham Aiyash, D-Hamtramck. Aiyash won with 91.6% of the vote.

Now, Lundgren said she’s running again because it’s “very important to our party to have somebody on the ballot” and “shows the validity of the whole system,” viewing it as an extension of her community work on the neighborhood block association and an advocate for senior services. 

“I'm a real go-to gal, I'm a real doer,” Lundgren said. “Something needs done, you can always count on me to achieve whatever has to be done.”

In addition to Lundgren, Tate also faces two Democratic challengers in the Aug. 6 primary: Lory Renea Parks and R.M. Nelson, both of Detroit. 


Tate recently told Bridge that he and other incumbent Democrats on the ballot this fall are “going to run on our record,” pointing to months of fast-paced lawmaking in 2023 where Democrats, newly in control, passed a slew of policy priorities related to labor, elections, energy, reproductive rights and more. 

“We know one thing that Michiganders value is people getting things done and their government working for them,” Tate said. “So I think the strategy is just telling our story and what we've done, because I think that is going to resonate the most at the end of the day.”

Barnes, the Democratic party chair, predicted Tate “will have no trouble holding onto his seat” and said the party is primarily focused on competitive races that could make or break House Democrats’ slim majority.

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