Democrats land ‘top recruit’ for one of their toughest House races

State Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet declared Wednesday that she was running to succeed her fellow Michigan Democrat, Rep. Dan Kildee, in the swingy 8th Congressional District. This constituency, which is based in the Flint and Tri-Cities areas, favored Joe Biden by a small 50-48 spread in 2020.

The Detroit News writes that party strategists see McDonald Rivet “as a top recruit” they’d hoped to land in the wake of Kildee’s surprise retirement in November. Last year, Democratic consultant Adrian Hemond described her to the Daily Beast as the type of “solidly center-left Democrat” who can “play nice” with the district’s large Catholic electorate, adding, “In terms of people who have a track record of winning tough elections in this area, Kristen McDonald Rivet is probably top of the list.”

McDonald Rivet, who worked in both state government and as a nonprofit leader before joining the Bay City Commission in 2019, did indeed survive a tough election in 2022, when she ran for an open seat in the state Senate.

According to Dave’s Redistricting App, the 35th Senate District favored Biden 51-48, which is similar to the president’s margin in Kildee’s district. McDonald Rivet ultimately beat Republican state Rep. Annette Glenn 53-47, a win that helped give Democrats full control of state government for the first time since the mid-1980s. Her state Senate constituency also covers a little more than a third of the 8th Congressional District.

McDonald Rivet joins an Aug. 6 primary field that includes State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh and Dan Moilanen, the executive director of the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts. Other candidates may also get in ahead of the April 23 filing deadline, though former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver recently announced she would stay out of the Democratic contest.

The GOP primary remains a duel between two candidates who unsuccessfully ran for office in 2022: former Trump immigration official Paul Junge, who lost to Kildee 53-43, and Martin Blank, a Saginaw police officer who took fourth place against Glenn in the state Senate primary.

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