Endorsement: Slotkin, Kildee, Scholten and Marlinga will give Michigan credibility in U.S. House

As in contests for statewide office, our recommendations in Michigan’s 2020 congressional election were heavily influenced by our concern at the number of Republican candidates who either participated in Donald Trump’s campaign to overturn the 2020 election, continue to deny the legitimacy of that election, or express reservations about the legitimacy of future elections.

Three of the five Republican House members seeking re-election to Michigan’s congressional delegation this year ― Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet; Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Bruce Twp.; and Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton ― voted in January 2021 not to recognize election results certified by state legislatures in Arizona and Pennsylvania, casting their lot with insurrectionists who had attacked the U.S. Capitol just hours earlier in an abortive effort to block Joe Biden's succession to the presidency.

Two other GOP incumbents on this year's ballot ― Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, and Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland ― joined Bergman, McClain and Walberg in a desperate legal gambit to block Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from casting their state's Electoral College votes for Biden. In a lawsuit filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court, the five Michigan congressmen asked justices to let the four state's legislatures — all controlled by Republican majorities — decide how to allocate their state’s presidential votes.

That spurious attempt to overturn the election was too much for even the three Trump-appointed justices, who joined the high court majority in rejecting it. Had they succeeded, however, Bergman and his GOP confederates would have effectively disenfranchised millions of Michigan voters. Those who have been paying attention to the testimony of Trump's inner circle now understand that the five Michigan lawmakers were complicit in wider conspiracy to undermine the democratic process.

Because all five GOP incumbents hail from sprawling, sparsely populated districts where Republican voters predominate, each is virtually assured to win re-election. Democrats enjoy a similar advantage in four other districts, where incumbent Reps. DEBBIE DINGELL, D-Ann Arbor; HALEY STEVENS, D-Birmingham; and RASHIDA TLAIB, D-Detroit; are expected to win re-election handily. State Rep. SHRI THANEDAR, D-Detroit, is likewise a shoo-in for the open seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Brenda Lawrence.

That leaves just four districts up for grabs in a Michigan congressional delegation reduced to 13 seats after faster-growing states claimed a larger share of the 435 seats in the House.

In the newly reconfigured 7th and 8th Congressional Districts, incumbent Reps. ELISSA SLOTKIN and DAN KILDEE tower over their underqualified Republican challengers.

Slotkin, who upset incumbent Rep. Mike Bishop four years ago in what had hitherto been considered a safe Republican seat, has distinguished herself among an influential, bipartisan group of House members with backgrounds in national security. Kildee, now the chief deputy whip for the House Democrats, has joined with fellow incumbent Debbie Dingell to restore some of the experience and expertise Michigan's congressional delegation lost with the departures of John Dingell and Sandy Levin and the imminent retirement of Rep. Fred Upton.

Neither HILLARY SCHOLTEN, who has waged an impressive campaign for the 3rd Congressional District seat Rep. Peter Meijer will relinquish in September, nor longtime Macomb County Prosecutor CARL MARLINGA, who gave up a judicial sinecure to seek an open seat in the Macomb-centric 10th Congressional District, boast previous congressional experience. But both are more impressive than their election-denying Republican rivals, who placed on the GOP ticket by embracing Trump's stolen election lies.

John James, Marlinga's opponent in the highly competitive 10th, is an opportunist making his third bid for federal office after unsuccessful campaigns to unseat Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. A telegenic chameleon who tailors his vague public policy views to his audience, he can be affably pragmatic when addressing independent voters and militantly partisan when sharing a podium with Trump, as he did earlier this month. He's acquired a good deal of experience taping 30-second campaign spots, but his dearth of experience representing constituents at any level hardly augurs his success at the congressional level.

The Washington Post this week identified James and John Gibbs, Scholten's opponent in the closely contested 3rd Congressional District, as two of 10 prominent Michigan election-deniers who have amplified phony stolen election claims in their pursuit of elective office. That hardly gives us confidence that either man can be trusted to respect and uphold the results of Michigan's next presidential election.

Decades of sophisticated gerrymandering have left Republicans with congressional representation disproportionate to their electoral strength. But until 2020, it seemed implausible the partisan complexion of the U.S. House would prove decisive in a presidential election.

Today, the prospect of a Republican congressional majority refusing to recognize Democratic presidential electors is far less remote. If an Electoral College stalemate threw the 2024 presidential election to the U.S. House, each state would be afforded a single vote, with the advantage going to the presidential candidates whose party enjoyed a majority in that state's congressional delegation.

With so many Republican candidates expressing doubts that any popular election is trustworthy, assuring that Democrats enjoy a majority in Michigan's congressional delegation has become vastly more important. Re-electing DAN KILDEE and ELISSA SLOTKIN and adding HILARY SCHOLTEN and CARL MARLINGA to Michigan's congressional delegation will help assure that Michiganders' votes are counted in 2024 and beyond.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin is seeking re-election to a 3rd term in a reconfigured 7th Congressional District.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin is seeking re-election to a 3rd term in a reconfigured 7th Congressional District.
Rep. Dan Kildee n is seeking re-election in Michigan's 8th Congressional District.
Rep. Dan Kildee n is seeking re-election in Michigan's 8th Congressional District.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Endorsement: Slotkin, Kildee, Sholten and Marlinga for U.S. House