Melissa Gilbert to drop out of race for Congress in Michigan's 8th District

Democratic Party sources say Gilbert is citing health problems

By Mara MacDonald - Reporter

Actress Melissa Gilbert is dropping out of the race for U.S. Congress in Michigan's 8th congressional district, citing health problems, according to sources from the Democratic Party at both the national and state levels.  

The Michigan Democratic Party released the following statement Tuesday on behalf of Party Chair Brandon Dillon, regarding the race for Michigan's 8th congressional district.

"Michigan law is clear: since it appears Melissa Gilbert was the only candidate who filed the requisite number of valid signatures required to appear on the ballot, her announcement means that the county Democratic parties will fill the vacancy after she removes herself from the ballot.

"Make no mistake: this district is still a top target for us. Career politician Mike Bishop continues to put special interests in front of the needs of his constituents, uses taxpayer money to line the pockets of his donors, and supports trade policies that would ship even more Michigan auto jobs overseas."

Gilbert, famous for her childhood role of Laura Ingalls Wilder on "Little House on the Prairie," was up against Republican Mike Bishop.

The seat encompasses portions of Oakland, Livingston and Ingham counties. The Bishop campaign mercilessly hit Gilbert on two major issues: A delinquent tax bill in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and comments she made about Hollywood director Roman Polanski on "The View."

"The Democrats probably weren't going to win this seat anyway," said Joe Munem, political consultant. "It's a seat that's been drawn for the Republicans. So, the likelihood of her winning was ... it would have required a lot of work."

Gilbert withdrawing doesn’t mean her name won’t be on the ballot -- it will unless she suddenly moves out of state. She had a challenger in the democratic primary but that candidate, Linda Keefe, has signature problems and has not qualified to appear on the ballot. 

Gilbert has never held public office. She first announced her intention to run back in August. She and her husband, actor Timothy Busfield, have resided in Howell, Mich. Busfield is a Michigan native.

In the previous election, Bishop defeated his Democratic challenger, Eric Schertzing, by a 54%-42% margin. He replaced retiring Rep. Mike Rogers.

Bishop, 48, previously served as Majority Leader of the Michigan Senate. He also ran for Oakland County Prosecutor in 2012 but lost to Democratic incumbent Jessica Cooper.

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