Senator Stabenow won’t seek re-election

The Michigan Democrat believes it’s time for a new generation of leadership
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 3:48 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Senior Michigan Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says it’s her last term. Stabenow made the announcement early Thursday morning saying she believes it’s time for a new generation to lead.

Stabenow said colleagues on Capitol Hill were surprised but also very supportive of her decision to not seek re-election. The Senator says she wants to pass the torch to the next generation of young leaders and feels confident it will not cost Democrats the seat in 2024.

Stabenow said, “we have a number of people and I will be talking to them. I’m sure folks have to make their own decision.”

Stabenow is the first woman from Michigan elected to the U.S. Senate. She said in her statement, “I have always believed it’s not enough to be the ‘first’ unless there is a ‘second’ and a ‘third’. ”

In an interview with Gray Television’s Washington News Bureau, Stabenow was asked whether she would prefer her successor to be a woman.

Stabenow said, “it’s always exciting to me to see women moving forward. I know we have wonderful leaders, men and women that will look at this. But, you know, it’s always important. I think it’s exciting for me to see women moving forward.”

Stabenow also said that values and experience getting things done will be important.

Georgetown University political science professor Mark Rom said some of the obvious Democratic names to run for the seat include House members. Congresswomen like Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.). Rom also said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson could be a potential viable candidate.

Shortly after Stabenow’s announcement, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s spokesperson told CBS News that Whitmer was not interested in running for the seat.

Stabenow said, “I’ve had a chance to talk to the governor, and I certainly understand she has a wonderful opportunity with a Democratic state House in the Senate for the first time in 40 years.”

Stabenow also said, “so I was not surprised that her commitment is to Michigan.”

Rom said while Democrats aren’t expressing public nervousness about keeping control of the seat, behind the scenes is likely a different story.

“Whenever a senator retires, that’s got to make them nervous because it’s an open seat. Open seats always easier for their party to make a pickup,” Rom said. “We’ll see who the Republicans put forward. It’s going to be competitive seat. We can almost be positive.”

Republican Congressman-elect John James narrowly lost the 2020 Senate race to Senator Gary Peters. Thursday, James became the first freshman member of the new Congress to speak on the House floor. Just hours after Stabenow’s announcement, James nominated Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for speaker ahead of a seventh round of voting.

Senator Stabenow said she will continue serving her Michigan constituents over the next two years, including leading an effort on a new farm bill.



A spokesperson for Congressman Dan Kildee’s (D-Mich.) said in a statement on Thursday evening, “as Michigan’s senior Democrat in the House and a member of leadership, Congressman Kildee is focused on delivering results for his constituents and our state in his current office. He will not be running for Senate in 2024. Congressman Kildee knows our state has a talented bench of Democratic leaders to follow in the footsteps of Senator Stabenow and serve Michigan well in the U.S. Senate.”