Who could run for Debbie Stabenow’s empty Michigan senate seat in 2024? Some potential names

Place your bets now!

Pete Buttigieg, Elissa Slotkin and John James (all via Associated Press) (Associated Press)

Longtime Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says she will leave the U.S. Senate at the end of her term in January of 2025.

Stabenow announced the news in a press release Thursday morning:

“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 took office in 2001, and previously served in local and state government, including the U.S. House and Michigan Senate.

The announcement from Stabenow now means that the 2024 election in Michigan will be a hot one, with both parties trying to get someone elected to the empty senate seat.

Not only will the general election be important, but so will the Michigan primaries. Stabenow’s exit leaves the door wide open for a number of different Democrats and Republicans to put their name in the hat. The 2024 primary season could be something that Michigan hasn’t seen in years.

Of course, folks on the internet immediately started predicting who will run in the primary, and there seems to be a lot of options on both sides of the aisle. We obviously couldn’t sit this one out, so here are our predictions of who will try to run for Debbie Stabenow’s empty senate seat.


Gretchen Whitmer

Big Gretch seems like the most obvious candidate. She has the experience, name recognition and favorability in a state wide election already. However, Whitmer could have her eyes set on a different prize, a prize that could take her to the White House. She was heavily rumored to be Biden’s pick for Vice President, and thanks for President Trump constantly tweeting about her in 2020, she has national name recognition. Either way, we will probably see more from Whitmer beyond her time as governor.

(For the record, the governor’s office says she plans to serve all four years of her second term)

Elissa Slotkin

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin is another obvious choice to replace Stabenow. She is a more moderate Democrat, and has favorability among independent voters. When she came into office in 2018, she beat an incumbent Republican and has held onto her seat ever since, despite representing a swing district. She was endorsed by Republican Liz Cheney last year, so it seems like she has friends on both sides of the aisle. Plus, there’s this tweet from today indicating that she’s strongly considering running for the position.

The only downside to Slotkin running is that would leave her seat open for a Republican to take over. The Democrats in Congress can’t afford to lose any more seats in 2024, so it may not be smart for her to abandon it.

Haley Stevens

On the other hand, Congresswoman Haley Stevens could afford to leave her seat in Congress in order to run for the Senate. Stevens represents a pretty solid blue Oakland County, so it’s pretty safe to say that her seat won’t be won by a Republican in 2024. Alongside Slotkin, Stevens also beat an incumbent Republican in 2018, so she’s good at reaching to moderate voters. She may not have as much experience as Slotkin, but it wouldn’t be shocking if Stevens wanted a go at the senate.

Pete Buttigieg

Did you know that Secretary Pete Buttigieg is a Michigander now? It’s easy to forget since his 2020 presidential run was so synonymous with being the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, but Buttigieg moved to Traverse City last year to be closer to his husband, Chasten Buttigieg’s, family. The former mayor put out a statement Thursday morning saying that he is dedicated to his role as Secretary of Transportation under the Biden administration, but that could all be lip service until the 2024 primaries role around.

Mallory McMarrow

The Michigan Senator may not have the same name recognition as others on this list, but don’t count her out in putting her name in the ring. McMarrow made waves last year when a speech she made on the Michigan senate floor went viral across social media. A Republican senator accused McMarrow of being a “groomer,” and McMarrow did not take that accusation kindly.

Her chances of winning while going up bigger names in a primary seem low, but just putting her name out there this time around could help her political career in the future. She’s be an easy replacement for Stevens (McMarrow represents Royal Oak) if she becomes the Democratic nominee for the Senate.

Wild card: Jennifer Granholm

Just like Buttigieg, Granholm currently has a nice job in the Biden Administration, but how wild would it be if the former Michigan governor decided to run for senate? She certainly has the name recognition (she was Michigan’s first female governor, after all) and many young voters were not old enough to remember her as governor, so she’s basically has a clean slate with them. Sure, some older voters may not be keen on this idea, but it wouldn’t shock me if her name came up in the primary.


Peter Meijer

The former Congressman lost to a Trump-backed candidate in the 2022 primaries, but that candidate lost to a Democrat in a district that has been owned by Republicans. Meijer is certainly anti-MAGA, but considering what just happened in the 2022 election in Michigan, being backed by Trump may not be a winning idea. Meijer could attract moderate voters, plus he has huge name recognition. He also said in an interview lately that he has no plans on taking over the family business any time soon.

Fred Upton

The former congressman did not seek re-election in 2022, but don’t count him out just yet. He name has been bounced around in recent days as someone who could be speaker of the house in Washington D.C. after Kevin McCarthy has tried and failed multiple times to become speaker. He has tons of experience (he was in congress since the late ‘80s) and could appeal to moderate voters. The only downside is his age. Upton is already 69-years-old, so I’d seem unlikely that he’d run for a second term if he won. Then again, look at 89-year-old Senator Chuck Grassley and anything is possible.

John James

Could the third time be the charm for John James? The newly-elected congressman finally won an election after running against Stabenow in 2018 and Gary Peters in 2020. Since he wouldn’t be running against an incumbent, the idea of trying to become a senator again could be enticing for James. His margin of victory in 2022 was still pretty small, so he may not be the best idea for Republicans to nominate him, but that still may not stop him from running in the primary.

Bill Huizenga

Despite being a Congressman since 2011, Bill Huizenga keeps a pretty low profile in Washington D.C. That could, however, be good for him since MAGA Republicans historically haven’t done well in recent Michigan elections. He could appeal to moderate voters, and has enough experience to do the job. The only downside is does he have enough name recognition?

Candice Miller

The former Michigan Congresswoman left Washington D.C. in 2016 to become the Macomb County Public Works Commissioner, so she may not want to return to D.C. to become a senator. However, she has tons of experience and was popular among moderates. She could have a pretty good shot if she put her name in during the primaries.

Tudor Dixon

Could Tudor Dixon give it the old college try again? After losing to Whitmer in the 2022 race for governor, it seemed that her political aspirations were dead in the water, but this opening for the senate could put her back in the spotlight. She certainly has name recognition, but are her views too extreme? It wouldn’t be shocking if her name ended up in the primary.

Wild Card: Rick Snyder

This would seriously blow the minds of people who study politics in Michigan if former governor Rick Snyder decided he wanted to run for senate, but when you think about it, it’s not that bad of an idea. Snyder has seamlessly escaped any accountability for the Flint water crisis, so his name isn’t tainted among Republican voters. Plus, he’s extremely moderate, so he could swing some votes over if he made it to the general election. It’d be a tough primary for him, but crazier things have happened.

Who do you think will run for Debbie Stabenow’s seat? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author:

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.