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Candidates are fighting 'til the bitter end in crowded 11th District race

Candidates for the 11th District House of Representatives seat.
Michigan Radio
The Republicans, from left: Kerry Bentivolio, Rocky Raczkowski, Klint Kesto, Lena Epstein, Mike Kowall; The Democrats, from left: Tim Greimal, Haley Stevens, Suneel Gupta, Fayrouz Saad, Nancy Skinner.

It’s less than one week until primary day, and the 10 (that’s right, 10) candidates running to replace U.S. Rep. Dave Trott are in the final stretch of what has been a hectic primary race.

Michigan's 11th congressional district
Credit WikiCommons
Michigan's 11th congressional district

The 11th District, which kind of circles around the northwest edge of Wayne County, has a strange political history. Three of the district’s four last representatives were Republicans, and voters went for Mitt Romney and then Donald Trump in the last two elections. But voters also chose Barack Obama in 2008, by a higher margin than either Romney or Trump. The district also surrounds two Democratic strongholds: Wayne and Oakland counties.

It’s exactly the type of suburban district that Democrats hope to flip in 2018.

But with five Democrats and five Republicans running, there’s no clear front-runner. And it’s unlikely any candidate will come away with a majority of the vote next week.

Still, the candidates aren't giving up. As of July 19, the 10 candidates had spent a combined $7 million. Much of that is being spent on advertising. Like in many primary races, each party's candidates don't differ greatly on the issues, so a candidate's reputation and popularity matters. 

So who's running to replace Dave Trott? Below is a list of the candidates.

The Republican candidates

Kerry Bentivolio actually held the 11th District seat from 2013 to 2014, but lost to Trott. A resident of Milton, Bentivolio is a former educator, Army veteran, and National Guardsman.

Lena Epstein’s claim to fame was as co-chair of Donald Trump’s 2016 Michigan campaign. She lives in Bloomfield Hills, and is a co-owner of Vesco Oil Corporation based in Southfield.

State Rep. Klint Kesto currently represents the 39th state House District. Kesto is a former prosecutor, and lives in Commerce Township.

State Sen. Mike Kowall represents the 15th state Senate District, and is currently the majority floor leader. He lives in White Lake.

Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski is a retired Army Reserves lieutenant colonel, businessman, and former state representative. A Troy native, Raczkowski has competed for two federal seats: losing first to former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin in 2002 and later to then-U.S. Rep. Gary Peters in Michigan’s 9th District in 2010.

The Democratic candidates

State Rep. Tim Greimel served as House minority leader from 2013 to 2017, representing the 29th District. He currently lives in Auburn Hills, and is a former Oakland County commissioner.

Suneel Gupta is best known as the brother of famous CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta. The younger Gupta is a lawyer and entrepreneur, and lives in Birmingham.

Fayrouz Saad is a former Homeland Security employee and served as immigrant affairs director for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. She lives in Northville.

Nancy Skinner has run for office twice in Michigan, and once in Illinois. In 2006, she was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House in the 9th Congressional District, and in 2014, she lost the Democratic primary in the 11th District. A climate change activist and radio commentator, Skinner lives in Bloomfield Hills.

Haley Stevens served as the chief of staff for the Obama administration’s auto task force, assisting with the 2009 bailout of Chrysler and General Motors. Stevens currently lives in Rochester Hills.

The primary election is Tuesday, August 7. Learn more about voting in the primary here.

Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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