Home » Prominent official launches bid to be Michigan’s first Black woman senator

Prominent official launches bid to be Michigan’s first Black woman senator

Pugh stepped down from her position in Flint in 2019, and three years later, she once again placed first when she sought reelection to the Board of Education. Soon afterwards, she was chosen by her colleagues to serve as the body’s president, but her name surfaced earlier this year for a much higher office following Stabenow’s retirement.

Pugh’s consideration of a Senate bid came at a time when, following Rep. Brenda Lawrence’s retirement early this year, there were no Black Democrats in Michigan’s congressional delegation for the first time since 1955. (Republican Rep. John James represents part of the Detroit suburbs.) “I think it would be a shame if we have not at least put some backing behind … a Black woman who would be in the U.S. Senate,” she told Politico, noting, “And there are none at this time.”

However, that changed earlier this month when former state Rep. Leslie Love launched her own campaign. Neither Pugh nor Love appears to have said anything publicly about the other’s campaign, though the Detroit-based Love also emphasized her desire to elect a candidate from southeastern Michigan. (Slotkin represents the Lansing area, while Pugh’s Saginaw home is located even further to the north.)

Actor Hill Harper, who is also Black, is eyeing the race as well, though Love alleged that “The Good Doctor” cast member “has never lived in Michigan and has no experience at all in politics or government” in comments to the Toledo Blade last month. (Harper, who met Barack Obama in law school and says he remains friends with the former president, bought a home in Detroit in 2018 and has said he’s raising his son there.)

Slotkin, who is white, has argued that she can appeal to Black voters. “All I can do is introduce myself to leaders in places like Detroit and Flint,” she said at her campaign kickoff in March, “and demonstrate that I care and I’m willing to fight on issues that are really important to people.” The field also includes Nasser Beydoun, a former head of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce who characterizes himself as a “moderate.”

One big question looming over the primary is whether any of Slotkin’s opponents can bring in enough money not just to compete with her in this expensive state but to establish themselves as her main rival. The congresswoman finished March with $2.3 million in the bank, and she proved during three competitive House campaigns that she can raise much more. New quarterly fundraising reports are due July 15.