By SIMON D. SCHUSTER
Michigan Campaign Finance Network
LANSING (April 15, 2022)
A potentially big Democratic field in the 13th
A whopping 13 Democrats filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run in Michigan’s new 13th congressional district. Though only four are on the ballot as the filing deadline looms, six raised more than $100,000 through the first three months of 2022.
State Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) has put more than $5 million of his own money into his campaign, and his willingness to spend millions in pursuit of elected office was made plain by his $10.4 million gubernatorial bid in 2018. He continued to spend more of his personal wealth on his campaign, telling The Detroit News it makes him
It has the potential to be a big primary. With Thander’s self-funding included, nearly $6.7 million has already flowed into campaign coffers for the Democratic primary.
State Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) has raised more than $500,000, while former State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo raised $221,000. Attorney Michael Griffie raised a little more than $300,000 and Portia Roberson, CEO of the community nonprofit Focus HOPE, took in about $268,000.
The new 13th district overlaps a considerable amount with the 14th district held by outgoing U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield). In what may be an indication of support, Roberson reported receiving $4,000 from Lawrence’s campaign on the final day of the filing period. Lawrence’s campaign didn’t report the contributions, however.
One of the candidates that qualified for the August ballot, John Conyers III, hadn’t submitted a campaign finance report as of midday Tuesday.
The deadline to qualify for the ballot is 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Michigan Republican Party co-chairs give to candidates in contested primaries
Meshawn Maddock, the co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, gave $1,000 to John Gibbs, a candidate challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) for the new 3rd district nomination.
Meijer is among the small minority of Republicans who voted to impeach former president Donald Trump in the wake of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, 2021. He has maintained his criticism about Trump’s refusal to recognize the result of the 2020 election.
Maddock maintains a close relationship with Trump, who has endorsed Gibbs. This appears to be the first time a Michigan party chair has donated to a congressional candidate challenging an incumbent from their own party. Though Maddock has spoken warmly of Gibbs in the past, she hasn’t formally endorsed him.
Ron Weiser, the party’s other chair, has given $2,900 to House candidate John James in the new 10th district and U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), who’s running for the new 5th district. Both are also poised to face primary challengers.
MCFN wasn’t able to identify any candidates reporting Michigan Democratic Party chair Lavora Barnes as a donor.
John James raises $1.5 million for bid in 10th
Two-time Senate candidate John James has turned his efforts his cycle to the new 10th house district, and in his first campaign finance disclosure of the election cycle reported raising more than $1.5 million.
Nearly half of that amount was raised through a joint fundraising committee, John James For Michigan. It is registered to also raise money for the Republican Party’s primary congressional PAC, the NRCC.
It’s well known that congresspeople from both parties, in order to receive a prized spot on an influential committee, must raise funds for their party as a “tax” to receive it. The NRCC is the recipient of the committee tax for Republicans.
Slotkin Has $5.5 million war chest in 7th
In the new 7th district, incumbent Rep. Elissa Slotkin has a $5.5 million war chest, more than 10 times as large as her likely November competitor, state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte).
She raised more than $1 million from individual donors, who gave an average of $288 to her campaign. Contributions from Emily’s List made up nearly a quarter of her donations.
Her first election in 2018 was the most expensive U.S. House race in Michigan’s history and in 2020 she raised more than $9 million to ultimately defeat Republican Paul Junge. He’s running again, but in a different district.
Pro-Israel PACs go to war in key Democratic contests.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and J Street — the most influential interest groups supporting American ties with Israel — have been waging a proxy war of sorts in the 11th and 12th district races.
The 11th district race is setting up to be a contentious primary between incumbent Democratic U.S. Reps. Haley Stevens and Andy Levin, who represent the current 11th and 9th districts, respectively.
A point of difference, albeit not an enormous one, has been their stance toward the middle eastern nation. Levin is Jewish, while Stevens is not. She later reported the AIPAC donations from AIPAC as lobbyist-bundled contributions.
Her campaign reported receiving about $338,000 in the first three months of 2022, roughly a third of her overall fundraising, from donors ferried through AIPAC and a related group, Pro-Israel America PAC.
AIPAC is noted for its unconditional support for Israel and tolerates little straying from the candidates it supports. While Levin is supportive of Israel, AIPAC previously called him “arguably the most corrosive member of Congress to the U.S.-Israel relationship” and endorsed Stevens.
Levin’s has instead garnered the support of J Street, which has routed close to $167,000 to Levin from its donors.
J Street was established as an alternative to AIPAC and is emblematic of the schism within the American Jewish community on Zionism as a whole. While the PAC supports Israel, it is more progressive and also advocates for a resolution to the decades-old Israel-Palestinian conflict through means that break from Israel’s own policy.
Levin has previously pushed for Israel to reduce its military responses to Palestinian attacks and pushed for diplomacy between the two sides while calling himself a “lifelong Zionist.”
Stevens has roughly $1.3 million more cash on hand than Levin as of Friday’s filing, about $1.5 million to $2.8 million.
In the new 12th district, the incumbent Democrat running is one of Israel’s most vocal critics in Congress, Rep. Rashida Tlaid, who currently represents the 13th district.
Early polling put Tlaib well ahead of the primary field in the 12th district but now Janice Winfrey, the Detroit City Clerk, has garnered the support of AIPAC. Of the $236,000 she’s raised, about $106,000 has come from AIPAC donors. Winfrey garnered just 4% support in that January poll.
Other Democratic candidates in the 12th district include Shanelle Jackson, Elliott Steven and Hassan Nehme.
Here is a breakdown of the funding sources for all the Congressional candidates that have filed the latest disclosure with the FEC: