Stabenow to retire, creating GOP pickup opportunity in Michigan
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chairwoman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and a close ally of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), announced Thursday she is not running for reelection in 2024.
The announcement is a blow to Democrats’ hopes of keeping their Senate majority in 2025 as they face a tough Senate map this cycle.
“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 January 3, 2025,” Stabenow announced Thursday.
Stabenow, the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, says she will focus on passing the farm bill, which provides hundreds of billions of dollars in support to agriculture, in the 118th Congress.
“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.
Democrats have to defend 23 Senate seats in the next election — including those held by Independent Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Angus King (Maine).
Schumer also faces potential retirements in two red-leaning states, Montana and West Virginia, where centrist Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are mulling whether to run for reelection.
Keeping Sinema’s seat out of Republican hands in 2024 could also be a tough challenge after she announced her decision to leave the Democratic Party and register as an Independent.
Sinema won’t say whether she plans to run for reelection, and she is expected to face Democratic and Republican opponents in a three-way general election race if she decides on a bid for a second Senate term.
Senate Republicans only need to defend 10 seats in 2024 and don’t have any obviously vulnerable incumbents up for re-election.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, won re-election to a second term in November, easily beating Tudor Dixon, a Republican, 54.5 percent to 43.9 percent.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), however, faced a bruising re-election battle against Republican John James in 2020, narrowly winning 49.9 percent to 48.2 percent.
Former President Trump carried Michigan in the 2016 presidential election but lost to President Joe Biden in the state in 2020 by nearly 3 percentage points.
Stabenow, 72, said she intends “to begin a new chapter in my life” after her term ends by “continuing to serve our state outside of elected office” and spending more time with her family, including “my amazing 96-year-old mom.”
Schumer in a statement praised Stabenow as “a great friend” and “a great ally.”
“As the DPCC Chairwoman, Debbie has been by my side as an instrumental member of our leadership team, helping lead our caucus messaging efforts and delivering one of the most productive sessions of Congress in a century,” Schumer said.
He declared he is “confident Democrats will retain the seat,” pointing to what he called the “strong” party structure she built in the state.
Updated at 10:29 a.m.