news·6 min read

These 6 Midterm Races in Michigan Could Impact Abortion Access and Voting Rights

Michigan state with I voted images over it
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
Sep 23, 2022

Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, we're breaking down some of the key races in states facing tight races. 

In Michigan, access to abortion and voting rights are on the state’s ballot (literally). And several of Michigan's midterm candidates are battling for the final say. Here’s what to know. 

The state of Michigan

Back in 2016, voters were in favor of Making America Great Again and went red for former President Trump. But four years later, most voters said 'let's switch it up' and went blue for President Biden. In Congress, both of the state's Senators are Dems, while its House members are evenly divided. And that split is reflected at the state level, too. Dems control the executive branch (think: the governor and attorney general), while Republicans control the legislative branch.

But now, newly drawn congressional maps have created three swing seats in the third, seventh, and eighth districts. And the fate of these seats could determine if Congress stays blue or goes red after Election Day. Here’s what you need to know about Michigan’s major races – from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s run for reelection to a wave of candidates claiming 2020 voter fraud. Let’s dive in. 

Races to watch

Here are the top races to watch at the state and federal level in Michigan. And here’s what each elected position actually does.

State

  • Gubernatorial Race

    • The candidates: Incumbent Gretchen Whitmer (D) vs. Tudor Dixon (R)

    • Stakes: The legal right to an abortion is up for debate in Michigan. And who is elected governor could have a major impact on which direction the state goes. 

    • What to know: Whitmer is in support of protecting abortion rights (which she’s shown through a lawsuit and executive action). Dixon describes herself as pro-life (unless the mother’s life is at risk). And said that it should be the only exception to an abortion ban. In the past, she has said that she believes the 2020 election was stolen. But lately has been dodging the topic altogether – giving no real indication on what she believes. Dixon has also been endorsed by former President Trump and Betsy DeVos’ family (the former Secretary of Education). But Project FiveThirtyEight says Whitmer is “clearly favored” to stay in office.

  • Attorney General Race

    • The candidates: Incumbent Dana Nessel (D) vs. Matthew DePerno (R) 

    • Stakes: Nessel has expressed support for protecting abortion access in the state, while DePerno said he wants to criminalize the procedure. Michigan is at a standstill over abortion access (although its currently legal until fetal viability). And who wins attorney general could have a big impact on the future of access in the state. That’s because a state’s AG is in charge of enforcing laws like abortion bans.

    • What to know: Prior to Roe being overturned, Nessel was very clear that she wouldn't enforce the the state's 1931 abortion ban (which was recently ruled unconstitutional by a judge). But Trump-endorsed DePerno said that he will make no exceptions for abortion. And would enforce the ban. Just like Dixon, DePerno is an election denier. And Nessel’s office requested a special prosecutor investigate DePerno's role in spreading 2020 election misinformation. DePerno said that if he is elected, he will investigate Nessel’s and Whitmer’s roles in the 2020 election.

  • Secretary of State Race 

    • The candidates: Incumbent Jocelyn Benson (D) vs. Kristina Karamo (R)

    • Stakes: Karamo's saying 'things are better in threes' and joins the ranks of the two other GOP candidates in denying Biden's 2020 win. If she’s elected as Michigan’s Secretary of State, she will play a large role in the state’s election process.

    • What to know: Leading up to the 2020 election, Benson sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters across the state. A move Trump falsely said was illegal. Trump-endorsed Karamo claims that ballots were illegally counted for Biden when she volunteered as a poll worker in the 2020 election. (Note: There's been no proven evidence of that.) And the future of elections is one of her top priorities.

Federal

  • 3rd Congressional District Race

    • The candidates: Hillary Scholten (D) vs. John Gibbs (R) 

    • Stakes: Michigan’s third district is a swing seat (thanks to new congressional maps). And according to Project FiveThirtyEight, Scholten holds a slight lead over Gibbs. But the margin is small. And could directly impact Dems slim majority over Congress.

    • What to know: Trump-endorsed Gibbs is a 2020 election denier, who narrowly won the Republican primary election over incumbent Peter Meijer (who, btw, voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection). Gibbs worked in the Trump administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development. He is against critical race theory (CRT) and is anti-abortion. If elected, he wants to make “nationwide permitless concealed carry” a thing, and conduct an audit of the 2020 presidential election. Scholten, on the other hand, says she will “always protect a woman’s right to choose.” She also wants to expand mail-in and early voting, end gerrymandering, and protect against “attempts to overturn” elections.

  • 7th Congressional District Race

    • The candidates: Incumbent Elissa Slotkin (D) vs. Tom Barrett (R) 

    • Stakes: The seventh district is another swing seat in Michigan. (Meaning: It’s a big deal for a red or blue Congress.) Project FiveThirtyEight predicts that Slotkin, a former CIA officer, is “slightly favored” to win the district. But both candidates aren’t taking any chances. So far, Slotkin has raised $6.8 million and spent $1.8 million of it. And Barrett has raised $1.3 million and spent more than $940k. 

    • What to know: Slotkin is running for reelection in her very purple district, and is making some of her top priorities affordable healthcare, campaign finance reform, women’s reproductive health, and gun reform. Barrett is against CRT, describes himself as “pro-life,” and wants to lower taxes. 

  • 8th Congressional District Race

    • The candidates: Incumbent Dan Kildee (D) vs. Paul Junge (R) 

    • Stakes: In keeping with the theme, this swing district packs a big punch for the midterms. Especially since it also houses Flint — known nationwide for its water crisis. 

    • What to know: Junge previously worked in the Trump Administration for immigration services. Now, he’s running for Congress. He is anti-abortion, anti-CRT, and is pro-Second Amendment. He wants to focus on “securing the border,” education, infrastructure, and jobs. Meanwhile, Kildee — who’s been in the House since 2013 — is focusing on the economy, healthcare, clean water, and education. Plus, he says he’ll “keep fighting” to protect reproductive rights. As of now, Project FiveThirtyEight says Kildee is “favored” to win the district. 

Ballot measures to watch

  • Proposal 3: Voting yes would ensure protection to reproductive rights in the state’s constitution. This includes prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortions, and miscarriage and infertility care. Voting no would oppose these changes to the state’s constitution. 

  • Proposal 2: Voting yes would amend the state’s constitution to guarantee a minimum of nine days for early voting, broaden the state’s use of ballot drop boxes, and more. Voting no would oppose these changes to the state’s constitution.

theSkimm

There’s a lot at stake this year. And the key way to make your opinion known on allllll of these issues, is to vote. And luckily, you have until Election Day to register to vote in Michigan. Find out more on what you need to register here.

PS: Check out our page that will help you build your ballot before you cast your vote.

Live Smarter

Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter. Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.

fbtwitteremail