Rep. Elissa Slotkin, Michigan Democrat, said Sunday that her party needs fresh faces among its aging leaders and that voters have “rightful skepticism” about Democratic policies that may have exacerbated inflation.
The remarks by Ms. Slotkin, who is in a competitive race for reelection, underscored the challenges that Democrats face in next month’s midterm elections both with voters and among its own leadership in Congress.
She is prepared to support President Biden if he follows through on his promise to run again but stressed that it’s time for change within the Democratic Party.
“I have been very vocal, including with my own leadership in the House, that we need a new generation, we need new blood — period — across the Democratic Party in the House, the Senate and the White House,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think that the country has been saying that. And I’m one of a handful of members of Congress who hasn’t voted for Nancy Pelosi as speaker. I’ve said I think we need new leaders.”
Ms. Slotkin’s race against Republican state Sen. Tom Barrett has become one of the most expensive House races in the country, as forecasters rate the seat a toss-up in an election year in which the GOP is likely to regain control of the lower chamber.
Top of mind for voters is the economy, specifically the highest rate of inflation in four decades. While most Democrats on the campaign trail have put the spotlight on abortion, Ms. Slotkin has focused on kitchen table economic issues such as jobs and the soaring cost of living.
She suggested that Democrats bear some of the blame because of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package that was passed shortly after Mr. Biden took office.
“While I think inflation is obviously a worldwide phenomenon, I’m open to the fact that we have to make decisions here in the United States. Democrats are in power, we’re in the White House, in the House, in the Senate, even if it’s slim margins. So sure, I do think that there is a rightful skepticism about, particularly, the last COVID package,” she said. “I think that’s why you’ve seen a lot of us in Congress really shy away from another COVID package, even when the White House was proposing one this past summer. So I own it.”
Ms. Slotkin‘s push for “new blood” is consistent with the majority of Democratic voters who say they would prefer a candidate other than Mr. Biden in 2024.
“He’s the sitting president. If he decides to run again, I’m going to support him. The party’s going to support him. That has a long history in our country,” she said.
In a statement to The Washington Times, the campaign arm of House Republicans suggested voters would hold Ms. Slotkin‘s remarks against her come Election Day.
“Elissa Slotkin admitted she is responsible for the rising prices Michiganders are paying and endorsed Joe Biden for reelection in the same interview,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Berg said. “Michigan voters can decide if that is a record they support.”
The Michigan Democrat was among a handful of House Democrats who did not support Mrs. Pelosi in her past two bids for speaker. Ms. Slotkin twice voted as “present” and said Sunday she would “love to see some Midwestern leaders.”
“That’s been important to me — to reflect the middle of the country. We’re here, too,” she said.