Four things last week’s fundraising reports told us about Michigan’s political races


There’s no clearer crystal ball into future political results than campaign finance reports.

I know, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers, trying to figure out what it all means.

Luckily for you, I’m here to sort it all out … well, for the U.S. Senate and congressional races that will be on mid-Michigan ballots, anyway.

Here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Nobody raises money in Michigan like Elissa Slotkin. Like, nobody. Ever.

She raised piles of money when she was running for the House. As a U.S. Senate candidate, her prowess is magnified by at least a power of two.

She raised $2.7 million when most people’s heads were in Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, in that order. The total is more appreciated in context:

When Gary Peters was making the jump from being a member of the House to a U.S. senator in 2013, he raised about $1 million in a comparable time frame. In 2017, U.S. Sen Debbie Stabenow, as a three-term incumbent, raised $1.7 million. Add those together, and you have what Slotkin has pulled in.

While her main primary opponent, “The Good Doctor” actor Hill Harper, spent more than he raised last quarter, Slotkin squirreled away $6 million. Her cash-on-hand total is more than what the other 13 Michigan U.S. Senate candidates accumulated by Dec. 31, multiplied by two.

I’m not saying (yet) that Slotkin is going to be Michigan’s next U.S. senator, but nobody is going to outspend her. Certainly not in the primary, and probably not in the general, either. Business executive Sandy Pensler is wealthy, but his odds of winning the GOP primary aren’t great, as I’ll touch on later.

  1. Just as there’s an exception to every rule, there’s an exception to this rule.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

When war erupted between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Tlaib was censured in the U.S. House for her passionate defense of the Palestinian community.

She ran counter to the traditional pro-Israel script in Washington, and Arab Americans across the country opened their checkbooks. Seemingly unsolicited, Tlaib raised $3.6 million in mostly small donor contributions from roughly 6,500 people in three months.

Again, here’s the amount in context:

She raised more money between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 than the next 10 U.S. House incumbents and challengers running in Michigan combined. She raised four times more money in the last three months than she did in the previous nine months.

All this came despite her not having an announced primary opponent. After this past quarter, it’s safe to say that the odds of her getting a serious Democratic primary challenge just went down. A lot.

  1. Ignore whatever poll you’re looking at. Former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers is the clear frontrunner to be the Republicans’ nominee to face Slotkin in the fall. Only a colossal screwup will prevent it.

Former President Donald Trump isn’t endorsing in this race. He learned last cycle what a high-risk, low-reward deal the endorsement game is. Besides, every Republican politician who wants to win is kissing his ring. Why bother?

For further proof that Rogers is bound to win, look at these figures:

Rogers doubled what the other eight Republican U.S. Senate candidates who filed reports gathered in the prior quarter. His campaign reported that 5,129 individuals gave him money. Former U.S Rep. Peter Meijer reported 184. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig reported 20. The aforementioned Pensler had 2.

Enough said there.

  1. Take a guess. Who raised more money last quarter? Two-time Republican U.S. Senate nominee John James or our own MI-7 congressional candidate Curtis Hertel Jr.?

Not only did Hertel raise more than James, his $550,000 was more than the 30-some other Michiganders raising money for a congressional race, incumbent or challenger, except Tlaib.

Hertel’s likely Republican opponent, Tom Barrett, didn’t do badly. His $405,000 is sixth-most of all Michigan’s congressional candidates. It’s just that Hertel is doing that well.

If it wasn’t clear before, it is now. There won’t be a competitive primary for either Republicans or Democrats in MI-7.

(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS at


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