United States Sen. Debbie Stabenow will not seek re-election in 2024, the Michigan Democrat announced Thursday, opening up a Senate seat in a critical swing state.
“Inspired by a new generation of leaders, I have decided to pass the torch in the U.S. Senate. I am announcing today that I will not seek re-election and will leave the U.S. Senate at the end of my term on Jan. 3, 2025,” Stabenow, 72, said in a statement.
Stabenow’s Senate career spans over two decades. She was elected to the Senate in 2000, unseating Republican incumbent Spencer Abraham.
Formerly a member of the U.S. House, Stabenow is now Michigan’s senior U.S. senator and chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
One of Stabenow’s focuses during her time in the Senate was expanding mental health services. She helped to allocate over $1 billion in taxpayer funds to certified community behavioral health clinics in Michigan and throughout the country.
“For the next two years, I am intensely focused on continuing this important work to improve the lives of Michiganders. This includes leading the passage of the next five-year Farm Bill, which determines our nation’s food and agriculture policies,” she said.
Just months before Stabenow’s retirement announcement, the Democrats narrowly maintained control of the Senate in the midterms. Losing the incumbent in a critical seat in the swing state adds to an already challenging year ahead for the Democrats, who are defending 23 of their 34 Senate seats in 2024.
The last time Michigan had an open Senate seat was in 2014, when Sen. Gary Peters, also a Democrat, beat former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to replace the late Sen. Carl Levin.
Following Stabenow’s announcement, Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin has expressed interest in running for her seat, a source told CNN. Other potential candidates for the seat include Democratic Reps. Dan Kildee and Debbie Dingell, and Democratic state Sen. Mallory McMorrow.
Republican Reps. Bill Huizenga and John James could also be contenders.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which works to elect Democrats to the Senate, expressed confidence in holding Stabenow’s seat in 2024.
“In 2022, Michigan Democrats won resounding statewide victories, and we are confident Democrats will hold this Senate seat in 2024,” David Bergstein of the DSCC said in a statement.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), meanwhile, promised to make the open Michigan seat a key target in 2024.
“Senate Democrats don’t even have a campaign chair yet and they are already dealing with a major retirement,” Mike Berg, communications director for the NRSC, said in a statement. “We are going to aggressively target this seat in 2024. This could be the first of many Senate Democrats who decide to retire rather than lose.”