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Hillary Scholten running again as Democrats see opportunity in Michigan's redrawn 3rd District

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Hillary Scholten, a Democrat, has announced her candidacy for one of Michigan's newly redrawn congressional seats.

A familiar name is throwing her hat in the ring to represent Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District.

Hillary Scholten of Grand Rapids said she will once again seek the Democratic nomination for the seat. She ran for the 3rd District in 2020, but lost the election to Republican Peter Meijer.

The district has since been redrawn to include Muskegon, which could give the Democrats a better shot of winning.

Meijer has gone against his own party to vote for the impeachment of Donald Trump, and has co-sponsored bipartisan legislation as part of his work with the Problem Solvers Caucus, which includes an equal number of both Democrats and Republicans.

But Scholten pointed to his votes against the infrastructure bill and voting rights legislation as key differences between them.

“I think that voters here in West Michigan — especially the new Michigan three — are really looking for a leader who can lead on those particular issues,” Scholten said in a phone interview.

Scholten is currently an attorney with the firm Miller Johnson in Grand Rapids. She previously worked for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and for the justice department during the Obama administration.

If Scholten were elected, she would be the first Democrat to represent Grand Rapids in 45 years, and the first female ever.

“I am running on all of the experience and perspective that I have,” Scholten said. “But one of those is as a woman and as a mother. That’s a perspective that we here in West Michigan have not had.”

Though Grand Rapids has never had a female representative in Congress, Muskegon has. Republican Ruth Thompson from Muskegon County was first elected to Michigan’s then-9th Congressional District in 1951. Her run in Congress ended in 1957, and no other woman has represented West Michigan since.

Peter Meijer is also facing Republican primary challengers in the race, over his vote to impeach Donald Trump.

Trump has already endorsed Republican John Gibbs, who is running against Meijer. Republican Audra Johnson is also running against Meijer in the primary.

This story was corrected to reflect that Tom Norton is no longer running in the 3rd District primary. He is now running in the 2nd District.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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