Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow won’t seek reelection in 2024
By Shania Shelton, CNN
Sen. Debbie Stabenow will not seek reelection in 2024, the longtime Michigan Democrat said Thursday, opening up a Senate seat in a key swing state.
“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, 72, said in a statement.
Stabenow’s decision comes just months after Democrats held on to control of the Senate in the midterm elections. Senate Democrats were already facing a tough map in 2024, but Stabenow’s decision to retire puts another seat in a crucial swing state in play.
Stabenow, who previously served in the Michigan state House and state Senate, first won election to Congress in 1996, winning a swing seat in Central Michigan. After two terms in the House, she won election to the Senate in 2000, unseating Republican incumbent Spencer Abraham. In the Senate, she rose to become the current No. 3 Democrat in the chamber as chair of her caucus’s Policy and Communications Committee. She also currently chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“No one embodies the true Michigan spirit more than Debbie Stabenow,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “From the state legislature to the House of Representatives, and for the last two decades in the United States Senate, Debbie has made a difference for Michiganders every step along the way.”
Democrats are defending 23 of the 34 Senate seats up for reelection next year, including three seats in states that backed former President Donald Trump by at least 8 points in 2020: West Virginia, Montana and Ohio.
Besides Michigan, the party is also defending seats in other battleground states such as Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In the wake of Stabenow’s announcement, Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin is closely looking at running for Senate, a source close to the congresswoman’s team told CNN.
Other potential candidates for the seat include Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga and Rep.-elect John James and Democratic Reps. Dan Kildee and Debbie Dingell and Democratic state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, who drew national attention last year in a floor speech pushing back against anti-LGBTQ attacks from a Republican colleague. James lost a closer-than-expected race to Stabenow in 2018 and then narrowly lost a bid for the state’s other Senate seat in 2020, before winning election to the House in November from a swing seat north of Detroit.
Two high-profile Democrats took their names out of contention Thursday for Stabenow’s seat.
A spokesman for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who was reelected to a second term in November, confirmed that the Democrat will not run for Senate in 2024.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement to CNN that he is “fully focused” on his current role and “not seeking any other job.”
The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, moved last year to Michigan, where the parents of his husband, Chasten, live.
A spokesperson for Senate Democrats’ campaign arm expressed confidence Thursday in holding Stabenow’s seat.
“In 2022, Michigan Democrats won resounding statewide victories, and we are confident Democrats will hold this Senate seat in 2024,” David Bergstein of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a statement.
Mike Berg, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that the committee is going to “aggressively target this seat in 2024.”
“Senate Democrats don’t even have a campaign chair yet and they are already dealing with a major retirement,” he said in a statement.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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CNN’s Terence Burlij, Edward-Isaac Dovere, Annie Grayer, Kaitlan Collins, David Wright and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.