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Hill Harper Against the Machine

Outgoing Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, likely hoping to avoid Democrat-on-Democrat violence, has suggested to Hill Harper that he run for mayor of Detroit instead.
Outgoing Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, likely hoping to avoid Democrat-on-Democrat violence, has suggested to Hill Harper that he run for mayor of Detroit instead. Photo: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images
Tara Palmeri
March 6, 2023

Last week, I reported that there will be a new entrant in the Michigan battle royale for the Senate seat soon to be vacated by Sen. Debbie Stabenow: The Good Doctor actor Hill Harper, who will not be backing down against the seemingly indomitable Rep. Elissa Slotkin. Since reporting that he will announce his candidacy in April, I’ve learned that Stabenow, likely hoping to avoid Democrat-on-Democrat violence, has suggested to Harper that he run for mayor of Detroit instead, but it didn’t sit well. Stabenow, after all, has been trying to play cruise director of the state party. She suggested that Jocelyn Benson, another fearsome competitor, run for governor. 

But I’m told that Harper, an Iowa native who is a Hollywood creature with a coffee shop in Detroit, is looking at Wes Moore as the model for resisting the party machine, after he ran against former D.N.C. chairman Tom Perez as a political neophyte to become the only Black governor in the country. Moore, a rising Democratic star, is also a good friend, and someone whose name he’ll likely be able to brandish on the campaign trail (along with Harper’s fellow Harvard Law classmate and pal, Barack Obama). On top of that, Cory Booker has encouraged him to run. As Harper builds a team, he’s talking to former John Fetterman campaign staffers, and he may earn the endorsement of former congresswoman Brenda Lawrence. Of course, this is all making Chuck Schumer’s life a little more complicated especially if one candidate emerges bruised in the primary and then has to take on popular supermarket scion Peter Meijer in the general.