Stabenow Exit Adds to Tough 2024 Senate Cycle for Democrats

(Bloomberg) -- Senate Democrats could face a tougher road to keeping their narrow majority in 2024 after Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, a member of their leadership team and chair of the Agriculture Committee, announced Thursday that she would not run for reelection.

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Her departure sets up an open seat in a presidential battleground state, albeit one won by Joe Biden in 2020. Democrats will also be defending Senate seats in Ohio, West Virginia and Montana, states won easily by Donald Trump. Complicating matters for Democrats, they have to defend 23 of the 33 seats on the ballot in 2024.

“Inspired by a new generation of leaders, I have decided to pass the torch in the US Senate,” she said, adding that she plans to finish a new five-year farm bill.

Stabenow noted she was first elected to a county commission office in 1974 when she was just 24. She also cheered on the growing ranks of women in elected office since she first got involved in politics.

Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana are among the key Democrats who haven’t announced their plans, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has complicated the map further for Democrats after she declared as an independent though she still aligns with Democrats for control of the Senate. Arizona is yet another key battleground state.

Democrats are also waiting on other senior Democrats, such as Dianne Feinstein of California, the most senior Democrat, to announce their plans. Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, the chairman of Banking Committee, told a home-state newspaper that he does plan to run for reelection.

Michigan Representative Elissa Slotkin, 46, is seriously considering a bid for Stabenow’s Senate seat, according to two people close to the congresswoman who were granted anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

Slotkin, a former CIA analyst whose family created Ballpark Frank hot dogs, won against Republican opponent Tom Barrett in November in a district that leans red and includes Lansing but also has rural areas northwest of Detroit. Her race was one of the most expensive congressional elections, according to AdImpact, which tracks political spending. Slotkin’s spokesman declined to comment.

Stabenow served earlier in the House, first winning a seat there in 1996. She made history in 2000 when she became the first woman ever elected to the Senate from Michigan. She was reelected three times.

She’s made a priority of climate-change policies but also has tended carefully to the needs of the automobile industry in her home state. On the Senate Finance Committee, she’s backed legislation to provide tax credits for electric-vehicle buyers that could help companies such as General Motors Inc. and Tesla Inc.

--With assistance from David Welch.

(Updates with reporting on Elissa Slotkin, starting in seventh paragraph)

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