Stakes rise ahead of 2024 election in Michigan as House Democrat announces retirement

FILE - U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 24, 2020. Kildee announced Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, that he would be retiring next year after the end of his sixth term. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan's six-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee announced Thursday he will not seek reelection, opening another competitive Congressional seat in the battleground state.

Kildee, who currently sits on the House Ways and Means committee, has represented the Flint area in Congress since 2013. He succeeded his uncle, Dale Kildee, who had served in Congress for 36 years.

Earlier this year, the 65-year-old Kildee was diagnosed with a curable form of cancer that he has since had removed. He said the scare made him reassess his “future and path.”

“After spending time with my wife, children and grandchildren and contemplating our future, the time has come for me to step back from public office,” Kildee said in a statement Thursday.

The announcement forces Democrats to defend yet another open seat next year as they attempt to retake the U.S. House, where Republicans currently hold a five-seat majority.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin announced in February she would not seek reelection in Michigan's 7th Congressional District — one of the most expensive House races in the nation last year — and would seek an open Senate seat instead. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a four-term Democrat, announced her retirement in January.

Republicans have already signaled that they will aggressively target the two open House seats in Michigan. Mike Marinella, a spokesperson with the National Republican Campaign Committee, said in a statement after Kildee's announcement that the party is “looking forward to flipping this seat red.”

Kildee was considered a vulnerable incumbent in 2022 after redistricting shifted his district to include more Republican areas. But Kildee would go on to cruise to a 10 percentage point victory over Republican Paul Junge.

Redistricting also forced Slotkin to run in the newly drawn competitive House district. She would go on to win by 5 percentage points.

Shifting dynamics are expected to make Michigan a more difficult map for Democrats in 2024, with a top-of-ticket presidential race that likely will be closer than Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's 10 percentage point win in 2022.

The state's open Senate race is also expected to be highly contested. Slotkin has led a field of Democratic candidates, while three high-profile Republican candidates, including two former U.S. representatives and a former Detroit Police Chief, are all contending for the GOP nomination.