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September 15th, 2023        Len’s Political Note #589 Elissa Slotkin Michigan Senate

2024                                         General Election

Elissa Slotkin tells people that Israeli kibbutzniks are not the only Jewish farmers.

She grew up on a farm in Holly, Michigan, but was not a conventional farm girl any more than, say, Eleanor Roosevelt was a housewife or Ronald Reagan was a public relations man. Her family’s business was Hygrade Meat.

Sometime in the past, perhaps before the beginning of the 20th century, there was a butcher in New York.  By 1914, her great grandfather, who was the butcher or the son of the butcher, had founded Hygrade Meat.  By 1976, when Elissa Slotkin was born, the family business, including Ball Park Franks, had been sold.  In 1969, when Hygrade Meat was sold to the third largest meat packer in the country, Hygrade was the fifth largest.  Elissa Slotkin’s grandfather went to work for United Brands and became head of the Eastern Meat Packing Association.

Elissa Slotkin was born in New York, but grew up on the farm which appears to have been her dad’s interest.  For schooling, she attended the Cranbrook Schools, private schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  The schools were a little more than 30 minutes away from the farm in Holly, but close to where her mother lived, also in Bloomfield Hills.   After prep school, she went to Cornell, enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and majored in rural sociology.

As an undergraduate, Elissa Slotkin may have wanted to know more about what it meant to be a farm girl, but her graduate school interest was international.  She enrolled at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in 2001.  Two days after classes began, the New York City World Trade Center was attacked — transforming the country, the city where she was going to school, and her ambitions.  She committed herself to national service and that service became the CIA.

Before completing her degree at Columbia, Elissa Slotkin became fluent in Arabic while at the American University in Cairo. Her language skill was particularly useful during her time in Iraq as an analyst.  Back in the States during the GW Bush administration, she worked for the National Security Council as an Iraq expert.  During the Obama administration, she worked for the Departments of State and Defense, serving as the acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs during the administration’s last two years. In that role, she was central to countering ISIS, including, for instance, overseeing the sale of arms to ISIS opponents.  She left the Defense Department when Donald Trump became President and moved back to the farm in Holly with her husband.

Elissa Slotkin and her husband, Dave Moore, a retired Colonel and former Apache helicopter pilot in Iraq, planned their future when he was free from his counterterrorism consulting responsibilities with the Defense Department.  She decided on Congress, on a run against incumbent Mike Bishop.  One basis for that run was Bishop celebrating his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  She was a tough campaigner.  Her brother has warned against getting into a knife fight with Elissa Slotkin. 

 Elissa Slotkin made the Affordable Care Act personal and Congressman Bishop a villain for voting to abolish it.  Elissa Slotkin’s mother, who had died from ovarian cancer, had been denied health insurance because of her precondition – a previous bout of breast cancer. No amount of explaining, on Bishop’s part, that he had voted for replacements for the Affordable Care Act or for a stand-alone bill to ensure coverage notwithstanding pre-existing condition would allow him an escape from that vote to oppose the ACA.  Elissa Slotkin defeated Mike Bishop by more than 15,000 votes, by a 51-47 margin.

In Congress, Elissa Slotkin has served on both the Armed Services Committee (formerly chairing the subcommittee on Intelligence and Operations) and the Agriculture Committee.  These committees are an excellent reflection of her life experience and her interests.  Her press releases range from a focus on bills to increase crop yields and protect groundwater to additions to the military budget that protect the health and safety of personnel and reminders to the public that, when Putin seemed threated by Prigozhin and the Wagner group, that these insurgents “are not good guys coming to liberate Russia and make it a blooming democracy.”

Elissa Slotkin’s campaign priorities for the Senate are broad.  She addresses protecting the rights of Americans (voting rights, civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights), protecting the safety of Americans (physical safety and gun safety plus cybersecurity), restoring and expanding manufacturing to the United States (referring to the CHIPS Act and the infrastructure Law passed while she was in the House), and restoring and expanding the American Middle Class (especially protecting health care access without which a health crisis, like the one experienced in her family, can drain a family’s resources).

When Elissa Slotkin entered Congress, she found a group of natural allies – other newly elected defense oriented Democratic Members of Congress who had served in the military or in the CIA.

Four of the ten are still in Congress and are not seeking higher office:  Jared Golden of Maine, Mikie Sherrill and Andy Kim of New Jersey, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania.

Three lost reelection bids.   Elaine Luria of Virginia, Max Rose of New York, Gil Cisneros of California.

Others extended their ambitions.  Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania ran for the US Senate but lost in the primary to John Fetterman.   Abigail Spanberger of Virginia has told people informally that she will not run in 2024.  She plans to run for Governor of Virginia in 2025.  And Elissa Slotkin is running for the US Senate from Michigan.

Elissa Slotkin has been a valuable Democrat in the House and will be equally valuable in the Senate.  So long as the Republican Party is dominated by extremists, the Democratic Party and the country needs Elissa Slotkin and those like her.  She and those she has been most compatible with put defense of country in a context that respects and appreciates those qualities of the United States that distinguish us from authoritarian countries as well as the authoritarians among us.

Earlier in the month, Republicans finally produced an opponent.  Former Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers announced.  He has been living in Florida and lobbying on behalf of defense contractors in Washington.  He said he thought he had left politics behind.  Now that he has emerged, other Republicans may follow.

If other Republicans announce, Elissa Slotkin will have something to say about them.  For now, notwithstanding Rogers’ criticisms of Trump, she points out that “he supports an extreme nationwide abortion ban with no exceptions for rape, incest, or common miscarriage; he voted to cut Social Security and Medicare; and, with an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, he voted to “expand” access to guns.  Furthermore, she may point out that Rogers, like many Midwesterners, had retired to Florida.  He was so ensconced in that state he voted in the 2022 election there.

Help Elissa Slotkin keep this Senate seat in the hands of the Democrats.  We still don’t know who her Republican opponent will be.

Protect Other Senate Incumbents

 Montana Incumbent Jon Tester is running in a state that Donald Trump won in 2020 57-41.  As the only working farmer in the Senate, he is popular in Montana.  He has geared himself up for the campaign.  On July 1, he had $10.5 million available for the campaign and no announced Republican opponent.  Keep him ahead of the game. He needs those resources.  In an August poll, he led in the low single digits against three possible Republican opponents.   Whoever emerges as the Republican nominee will raise a lot of money quickly.  Len’s Political Note #550

Ohio. Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown is listed by every pundit as one of the most vulnerable Senators in the 2024 election.  He is the only Democratic statewide office holder in Ohio which has grown increasingly Republican.  Can Sherrod Brown’s connection to the state’s blue-collar voters, enhanced by his gravelly voice, sustain his election campaign?  Most of the polls conducted in June and July show Sherrod Brown with slim leads against the Republican candidates.  He has armed himself for the campaign and, on July 1, had $8.7 million available.  The two extremely wealthy Republicans in the campaign can add money whenever they want to.  One had $3.9 million as of July 1; the other had $1.5 million.  Help Sherrod Brown.  He will need more money to sustain his lead in the polls. The most recent poll showed him with double digit leads over those opponents. I don’t believe those numbers.  I hope you do not believe them either.  Len’s Political Note #556

Wisconsin Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin is also listed by every pundit as one of the most vulnerable Senators in the 2024 election.  Wisconsin has swung from party to party.  In 2022, the state reelected a deeply conservative US Senator 50.5-49.5; it reelected a progressive former school superintendent as Governor 51.2-47.8.  The State elected a Democratic Secretary of State, a Democratic Attorney General, and a Republican State Treasurer.  It is not at all clear who Tammy Baldwin’s Republican opponent will be.  A poll in May found her leading a Republican Congressman by a single point.  The Congressman has since announced he would not run for the US Senate.  She has raised $5.5 Million for the campaign.  The more Tammy Baldwin raises, the more she will discourage opponents.  Help her out; keep her ahead of any possible opponent. Len’s Political Note #570

 Nevada Incumbent Jacky Rosen is running in a state where the other US Senator, Catherine Cortez Masto won in 2022 by 7,000 votes, a margin of 48.9-48.  Because of her ability to listen to people and to connect with them, Harry Reid persuaded her, when she was President of Nevada’s largest synagogue, to run for Congress and, after she won,  for the Senate.  She is doing her job, raising money for her reelection run.  At the beginning of July, she had $7.5 million.  None of the Republicans who have announced had raised much money by the end of June, but one of them is from an extremely wealthy family.  Help Jacky Rosen raise more money.  Len’s Political Note #564

Pennsylvania Incumbent Bob Casey, Jr is running in a purple state that, in 2022, elected a Democratic Governor and a Democratic US Senator.  Do not let those victories fool you.  Pennsylvania is far from a safe Democratic state and Bob Casey, Jr. does not feel like he is a safe candidate.  He is a moderate Democrat who has kept the support of both progressives and moderates.  He had $5.9 Million dollars as of July 1 for his campaign, having spent almost that much before June 30.  Right now there are no announced Republican candidates.  The more Bob Casey Jr raises, the more effective he can be in keeping Republicans out of the race.  Help Bob Casey Jr. raise money.  Len’s Political Note #581

Two Open Democratic seats

 Michigan. Today’s note is about Elissa Slotkin.  Her win would not increase the number of Democrats in the Senate, it would keep a Democratic seat.

Arizona. A Ruben Gallego victory would increase the number of Democrats, but only because Kyrsten Sinema changed from being a Democrat to an Independent. If she has an affiliation at all now, it is as a supporter of the large corporations that supported her.  We don’t know if she will run for election in 2024 as an independent.  We know she has raised plenty of money.  A popular poor boy made good, Ruben Gallego entered July with $3.8 million dollars for his race.  His funds pale in comparison with Sinema’s, who had $10.8 million.  A three-way poll at the beginning of August showed Gallego leading with 37%, Sinema with 26%, and a Republican at 25%.  August polls of Gallego in two-way races against various Republicans showed him leading in the low single digits or even.  Help Ruben Gallego.  He has a long fight ahead of him.  Len’s Political Note #544

Flip Republican Senate Seats

Texas.  Colin Allred played football for Baylor and for the Tennessee Titans in the NFL.  He went to Law School at the University of California Berkely and practiced law in Houston, from which he was elected to Congress.  He is proving to be a serious opponent to Ted Cruz, often described as the most disliked man in the Senate.  Cruz raised $37.7 Million, spent $33 Million, and had $4.8 Million on July 1. Colin Allred had $5.7 Million on July 1 after spending $3 Million of the #8.8 Million he had raised. One recent poll showed Cruz leading by 5 points; another by 7 points.  That is not a big lead after outspending your opponent $33 Million to $3 Million.  Donate to Colin Allred.  Help him compete with Ted Cruz.  A poll in May showed him behind by mid-single digits. He just might win.  Len’s Political Note #560

Missouri. I am among those who believe it is possible to oust Republican faux super-masculine Senator Josh Hawley.  Lucas Kunce is a veteran and attorney who worked on arms control issues for the Pentagon and blames large corporations for the destruction of small towns throughout Missouri.  There are no polls for this race yet.  Hawley had $4.5 million available for the race as of July 1.  Lucas Kunce is not doing badly with $1.2 million, but he will need a lot more to compete.  I encourage you to donate.  Len’s Political Note #538

Another Seat to flip

Florida Incumbent Republican Rick Scott made the monumental error of suggesting that social security and Medicare be subject to reapproval votes every five years; threatening the existence of these enormously popular programs.  Two Democrats have announced – Navy veteran and humanitarian Phil Ehr and the former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who came to the US as a child from EcuadorShe has the support of leading Democrats.  Polls have shown Phil Ehr behind Scott by low single digits and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ahead by a point.  I will wait a little before deciding which Democrat to urge you to support.


Extreme Flipping Long Shots

Mississippi. In a state where the Black vote is 38% of the total vote.  It is a state where it would make a difference if a Black Democrat gpt one-third of the white vote. If Mississippi were than kind of state veteran and attorney Ty Pinkins’ remarkable story would give him a chance.  He came from cotton picking poverty to success in the military to Georgetown Law School.  Mississippi is may not be that kind of state, but providing him with some financial support provides some psychic satisfaction.

Tennessee.  Do you remember Gloria Johnson?  She was the third member of the Tennessee three, the one who , by a single vote, was not expelled from the legislature.  She is running against extreme right wing Republican US Senator Marsha Blackburn. Give Gloria Johnson some love.