Longtime Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) shocked the political world Thursday when she announced she would not seek re-election in 2024, and rumors have already started to fly as to who might take her spot.
“Inspired by a new generation of leaders, I have decided to pass the torch in the U.S. Senate. I am announcing today that I will not seek re-election and will leave the U.S. Senate at the end of my term on January 3, 2025,” Stabenow announced in a statement.
By Thursday afternoon, the names of multiple potential candidates on both sides of the aisle began circulating.
For Democrats who have to defend 23 out of the 33 seats up for grabs in 2024, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg topped the list of potential candidates. Buttigieg moved to the Great Lakes State from Indiana last year. The former presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has already shot down the rumor, however.
“Senator Stabenow is a force in the Senate and fights every day to make life better for Michiganders and all Americans. I’ve been honored to work with her, and look forward to continuing to work with her during this Congress,” Buttigieg told POLITICO. “I am fully focused on serving the President in my role as Secretary of Transportation, and not seeking any other job.”
The D.C.-based outlet reported that Buttigieg said he moved to Michigan for family reasons since his husband Chasten is from Traverse City, but Michigan offers the Democrat a much better opportunity for winning an election than red Indiana.
On the Republican side of the aisle, 2022 gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon sparked speculation when she posted a tweet thread on the “opportunity” Stabenow’s announcement gives Republicans in 2024. Michigan Republicans have not held a Senate seat since 2001 after Stabenow defeated GOP Sen. Spencer Abraham’s re-election bid.
“Debbie Stabenow’s retirement gives Republicans the opportunity to coalesce behind a strong candidate, put in the work on the ground now, and prove why Joe Biden’s runaway spending and record of failure are hurting hardworking Michiganders,” Dixon tweeted.
A person with knowledge of Dixon’s plans told The Daily Wire that the Michigan Republican is not ruling out a Senate run and remains focused on helping Republicans win the seat in 2024. Dixon won the GOP nomination for governor handily in August, but she was defeated by Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer last November.
Debbie Stabenow’s retirement gives Republicans the opportunity to coalesce behind a strong candidate, put in the work on the ground now, and prove why Joe Biden’s runaway spending and record of failure are hurting hardworking Michiganders.
— Tudor Dixon (@TudorDixon) January 5, 2023
A slew of Michigan Democrats, including Governor Whitmer, were also floated as potential picks for the party. A Whitmer spokesperson quickly shot down the possibility of the newly re-elected governor running for the senate seat, NBC News reported.
Rep.-elect John James (R-MI) is another high-profile name being floated for the seat. James, a U.S. Army veteran, ran against Stabenow in 2018, coming up short by 6.5 percentage points. He ran again for a Senate seat two years later against Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, losing that election by less than two percentage points. The veteran finally won a general election in 2022 when he was elected to serve as the U.S. representative for Michigan’s 10th House district.
Other politicians some are speculating could run include Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Michigan state Sen. Tom Barrett, who lost a race against Slotkin for the U.S. House seat last November, and former Rep. Fred Upton, who retired from Congress at the beginning of 2023 after serving since 1987.