As I wrote earlier this week, there’s a potential Senate battle royale brewing in Michigan. Rep. Elissa Slotkin announced her candidacy on Monday with the behind-the-scenes support of outgoing Senator Debbie Stabenow, who has been trying to coalesce support around her potential successor while persuading some competitors to clear the field and instead focus on the 2026 gubernatorial race. Whether it works for Slotkin, a fundraising powerhouse, is an open question. One person who hasn’t gotten the memo, I’m hearing, is Hill Harper, the multihyphenate who starred on CSI: NY and Good Doctor, graduated from Brown (with Latin honors) and Harvard Law, and used to shoot hoops with Barack Obama. A senior advisor to Hill said that he plans to make his official announcement in April.
Harper may be a political neophyte from Iowa, but he could nonetheless complicate things for Slotkin. Race and representation will factor greatly in this race. Former congresswoman Brenda Lawrence has been outspoken about pining for a Black candidate. (She herself might even run.) Harper, a Black man with nearly half a million social followers on Twitter and Instagram, will offer a powerful contrast with Slotkin, a white woman who was endorsed by Liz Cheney. Slotkin is under immediate pressure to show support from Black leaders in the next month and I’m hearing that she’s working hard to win them over through her listening tour. (Stabenow’s support also isn’t a lock: “Senator Stabenow is not trying to consolidate support,” said an aide in her office. “She is just giving everyone who calls her advice on the challenges of running statewide.”)
Harper is starting without a campaign war chest, but I’ve heard that he’s been dangling appealing retainers to some of D.C.’s top firms to help build his team. Still, one thing I’ve been told repeatedly is not to underestimate Slotkin. “She will claw anyone’s face off,” a former aide told me. “Challenging her would be suicidal.”