LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A battleground House race in Michigan that national Democrats are eyeing to help them flip the chamber in 2024 is growing increasingly crowded after Carl Marlinga announced Thursday he will again challenge Republican U.S. Rep. John James for the seat.
Marlinga’s 2024 campaign in Michigan’s 10th Congressional District, which was announced in a news release provided to The Associated Press, comes after the Democrat lost last year by half a percentage point to James, who had a significant fundraising advantage.
In seeking the rematch with James in the suburban district north of Detroit, Marlinga is hoping to extend his party’s recent winning streak in Michigan. Democrats have taken control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the Legislature for the first time in decades, though they fell 1,600 votes short of claiming the 10th District in 2022.
National Democrats have already said they will target the GOP-held seat next year as they look to flip control of the U.S. House, where Republicans have a 10-seat majority.
A former Macomb County judge and prosecutor, Marlinga beat out four other Democrats last year to win the party’s nomination. He said in a statement that his campaign this year will focus on growing the economy, protecting the Great Lakes and standing up for abortion rights. He attacked James, saying the Republican is “out of step with our community.”
Before a rematch with James, Marlinga will first need to escape a primary that’s expected to grow increasingly crowded. Diane Young, a financial planner from Macomb County, has already secured a number of endorsements, including one from prominent state Sen. Mallory McMorrow.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Democrats, has said the district is one of 31 GOP-held seats they will “aggressively target” in 2024. They are also looking to hold an open seat in Michigan’s 7th District after Elissa Slotkin announced a run for the U.S. Senate.
Republicans in Michigan have struggled to win both state and congressional races in recent years. Last year, Democrats swept statewide races, flipped the state House and Senate and won three of four U.S. House races that were expected to be competitive.
While turmoil within the state party is expected to continue, Michigan Republicans hope that a high-profile race for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat will help candidates further down on the ticket next year. While Donald Trump won the state in 2016, Joe Biden won it in 2020 by nearly 3%.
James has long been seen as a rising star in the Republican Party and was seen as a prime candidate to run for an open U.S. Senate seat in the state before announcing in February that he would run for the House again.
The 42-year-old Republican, however, has struggled to win elections in a state that has increasingly trended Democrat. James lost U.S. Senate races in 2018 and 2020 before narrowly winning the House race while holding significant advantages in name recognition and fundraising.
In a statement, Will Reinert, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, criticized Marlinga’s “disgusting record” as a prosecutor that will “be on full display as voters reject him once again.”
Marlinga was Macomb County’s elected prosecutor for 20 years until 2004, when he was charged with helping a man obtain a new rape trial in exchange for contributions to Marlinga’s failed 2002 congressional campaign. A federal jury acquitted Marlinga in 2006.