Barrett, Hertel Jr. make rumored congressional campaigns official
After months of speculation, the race for Lansing’s open congressional seat has its first contestants.
On Sunday, Former State Senator Tom Barrett announced he’s once again jumping into the race to represent Michigan’s 7th District in Congress.
Barrett posted a campaign announcement video to social media late Sunday night. The Charlotte Republican is vying to flip the House seat after he ran a competitive campaign last year to represent mid-Michigan.
Barrett said the challenges facing the U.S. have only worsened since the 2022 election, including border security, influence from China, and a rising cost of living.
“Add up all of these things, and they are leading to substantial economic uncertainty for families, and they're becoming very real and very apparent to people that are just trying to do their best to get by,” he told WKAR. “With all that happening, I decided that I can't sit by and pretend it's not happening or look the other way.”
On Monday, Barrett’s former Senate colleague, Curtis Hertel Jr. announced his run for the Democratic nomination at a crowded union hall in south Lansing.
Hertel, who most recently served as Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s legislative director, said he joined the race out of a love for public service.
“I see a Washington D.C. that is too often focused on the fights that are happening there and not focused on the struggles that are happening for Michigan families. And so, I think it’s important to send somebody to Washington that can work with both sides of the aisle, listen and get things done for people,” Hertel told reporters after his speech.
Hertel later added he didn’t have just one priority outside of listening for his first day in Washington, if he were to win. Instead, he named onshoring supply chains, school safety, and lowering taxes for working class families as some of his stances.
Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-07) currently holds the seat, after beating Barrett by five percentage points in a very expensive race last year.
But Slotkin is now running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Debbie Stabenow next year. That leaves one of the most competitive and expensive House races in the country open for the 2024 election.
Several other prominent Lansing-area Democrats were rumored to have interest in the U.S. House race.
Many of them, including Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum and Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, decided against it. Byrum, Schor, and others mentioned in the rumor mill attended Hertel’s announcement Monday.
Barrett and Hertel are currently the only declared candidates in their race, according to Federal Election Commission data.
Hertel said his track record gives him an edge.
“In the Legislature, I worked with a lot of Republicans in order to do big things like bring jobs here to Lansing in the Lansing battery plant. Unfortunately, Tom was not part of most of those conversations,” Hertel said.
Barrett, who opposed large scale business incentives as “corporate welfare,” said he has his own experience representing competitive districts with voters on both sides of the aisle.
The Republican said he’s maintained a friendly relationship with Hertel and that he texted him Monday to congratulate him on his announcement.
“We were on opposite sides of a number of issues and we actually found ways to work together on a variety of issues as well,” Barrett said. “I'm looking forward to having a campaign and having a debate and illustrating the clear differences between the two of us.”
Barrett said he learned valuable lessons from his first bid for Michigan’s 7th District, but he thinks the dynamics next year will be different. He noted 2024 will also feature a close presidential race and a U.S. Senate election.