Hundreds of people crowded into a Grand Traverse Pie Company in East Lansing on Wednesday for Representative Elissa Slotkin’s (MI-08) first in-district public event since she announced she was joining calls for an impeachment inquiry last week.
There’s been a maelstrom of national media attention on Slotkin after she, alongside six other U.S. Representatives with national security and military service backgrounds penned an Op-Ed in the Washington Post saying the President Donald Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine was, “beyond the pale” and they were now calling for an impeachment inquiry.
The groups represents flipped, Republican leaning districts that were essential in Democrats regaining control of the House, and many were elected in a dramatic margin swing from the 2016 presidential election.
This is the candidate profile that absolutely crushed it in 2018. Margin swing vs. '16 prez:#NJ11 Mikie Sherrill (D) +15.6%#MI08 Elissa Slotkin (D) +10.5%#PA06 Chrissy Houlahan (D) +8.5%#VA07 Abigail Spanberger (D) +8.4%#VA02 Elaine Luria (D) +5.6%
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) September 28, 2019
Slotkin was the second to last of Democrats in Michigan’s congressional delegation to join calls of other House Democrats. Shortly after Rep. Haley Stevens (MI-11) released a statement, announcing her reticence to call for an inquiry was over as well.
The event was standing room only, shutting down the café until the East Lansing Fire Marshal was called and the event ended after just a few questions. Following the event, Slotkin spoke to WKAR’s Abigail Censky. Below are highlights of their conversation:
An 'Explanation Tour'
"And hopefully they have gotten to know me enough as a representative to trust that I didn't do this because it was some political thing for me. I did it because I just felt compelled based on preserving our national security and our democracy, and I would not have done it for any other reason."
The East Lansing coffee hour was the first in of three stops Slotkin is making this week, in an explanation tour of sorts, discussing the shift in her opinion. Previously, she had been wary of joining House Democrats in calling for an impeachment inquiry as a representative of a deeply purple district, saying she felt she needed to “bring people along” at several town halls.
Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District spans an oblong region of Mid-Michigan including parts of Ingham, Oakland and Livingston counties. Slotkin, flipped the district in 2018 when she unseated Republican incumbent Mike Bishop.
Will This Come At A Cost?
"I've had people ask me straight, straight on live TV, you know, do you think this is the end of your political career? And? I don't know, I don't know the answer to that. But I do know that there are some times when you just have to put politics aside and do what you think is right. And as someone who spent my life and national security, I don't know how to do this thing, being a congress person, any other way than that way."
After Slotkin announced her support of an inquiry many have hypothesized she’s imperiled her chances of getting re-elected in the eighth district. A column published in the Detroit Free Press suggested, “Rep. Elissa Slotkin may have risked political career with call for Trump impeachment.”
Republican Political Action Committee’s like the Congressional Leadership Fund and National Republican Congressional Committee launched social media campaigns lambasting Slotkin, likening her to fellow Michigander and member of Congress, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), who garnered attention and consternation for saying, “we’re going to impeach the MF-$%r” the week she was sworn-in to the 119th Congress.
The Republican National Committee also focused on Slotkin, in an anti-impeachment inquiry fundraising drive. Politico reported, through last Tuesday, the campaign had netted $350,000.
For Slotkin, The Focus Remains On ‘Pocketbook Issues’
“But I hope that people remember that. You know, just like you saw today, people, of course, are interested in this issue, but they also want to know that you're going to help their pocketbooks and their kids, that you're doing something concrete, to help them to fight for them. And I'm going to do everything in my power to continue to fight on that legislation. And I'm not on the committees of jurisdiction. So, I'm not my time is not going to be sucked into this inquiry. And all I can do is fight for that mother in the supermarket, who comes up to me crying because she can't afford her son's insulin. That's what keeps me up at night.”
At the event, after Slotkin’s explanation—which was met by encouraging applause—she walked the rope line where a few people voiced their opposition. She talked for the remainder of the event about bills on prescription drug prices and her work attempting to bar the military from using polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAs, on their bases.
Slotkin said, she wants a “rigorous inquiry” but plans to continue focusing on her central issues while the impeachment inquiry advances in the House. What her decision will mean for the continuity of her political career in the eighth district remains to be seen.
On Tuesday, Republican and member of the State Board of Education Nikki Snyder, announced she plans to challenge Slotkin in 2020.
Slotkin’s re-election campaign also reported record fundraising numbers for the third quarter, reporting raising over $800,000 in the third quarter with $1.65 million in the bank.
Follow Abigail Censky on Twitter: @AbigailCensky