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Michigan's U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow won't seek re-election in 2024

Debbie Stabenow stands outside wearing a coral colored jacket.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow announced Thursday she would not be seeking re-election for a fifth term in 2024.

The news likely comes as a shock to many Democrats in the state because Stabenow had not previously indicated that she would not seek reelection. Stabenow's impending retirement turns Michigan’s next Senate race into one of the most competitive in the country.

In 2000, Stabenow was the first woman from Michigan elected to the U.S. Senate. But she has a political career that has spanned 50 years. Stabenow cited "passing the torch" to a younger generation of political leaders as motive for stepping down.

"As part of my own new generation, I was elected to the Ingham County Commission in 1974 at the age of 24," she said in a statement. "As the youngest and first woman to chair the Board, this began years of breaking barriers, blazing trails, and being the 'first' woman to reach historic milestones as an elected official, including the honor of being the first woman from Michigan elected to the U.S. Senate. But I have always believed it's not enough to be the 'first' unless there is a 'second' and a 'third.'"

“Under the cloud of unprecedented threats to our democracy and our basic freedoms, a record-breaking number of people voted last year in Michigan. Young people showed up like never before. This was a very hopeful sign for our future."

While the current political climate in Michigan favors Democrats following a midterm election where they flipped the state House and Senate, the state is still expected to be one of the nation’s premier battlegrounds in the 2024 presidential election.

Only one Michigan Republican has held a seat in the Senate in the past 40 years. State Republican Party Chair Ron Weiser said the GOP now has a chance to take it back. "Republicans will not miss this critical opportunity to bring common sense to D.C. and economic prosperity back to Michigan," he said.

Stabenow joined the U.S. House in 1996. In 2000, she made history by becoming the first woman to be elected senator in Michigan, defeating a Republican incumbent. She turned back GOP challenges in 2006 and 2012 and defeated Republican John James by 6.5 percentage points in her last election in 2018. James was elected to the House in November.

Stabenow is the longest-serving member of the state’s congressional delegation. She is chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, making her the No. 3 ranking party leader, and heads the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

Stabenow most recently has been involved in bipartisan legislation aimed at increasing oversight of cryptocurrencies. She has also led efforts to expand and increase funding for mental health care both nationally and in Michigan.

Ahead of 2024, the date of Michigan’s primary is yet to be finalized after the Democratic National Committee rule-making arm voted to move Michigan up in the party’s presidential primary calendar. If the full DNC approves the plan, as expected, Michigan would be the fifth state to vote in the primary process on Feb. 27.

The Republican National Committee has already set their primary schedule and Michigan is not in the first five states. If Michigan Republicans were to move their primary before March 1 to match the Democrat’s plan, they could be significantly penalized by the national Republican Party.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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