Editor’s Note: Our coverage of Haley Stevens is part of Running Women, a project following 15 compelling women candidates for U.S. political offices in 2018. Read the latest on her campaign below.
Haley Stevens is a former Obama administration official running as a Democrat for a hotly contested open seat in the U.S. House representing Michigan’s 11th District. As chief of staff of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Auto Task Force, she played an important role in the industry bailout during the Great Recession, something that should win her points in this district just northwest of Detroit, the nation’s traditional auto capitol.
Stevens, age 33, jumped into the race in April after controversy engulfed the incumbent representative, David Trott. One of his aides was caught on a “hot mic” calling angry constituents crowding a town hall “un-American.” Seizing the moment, Stevens launched a Crowdpac crowdfunding page seeking pledges for a potential run. It took off, bringing in nearly $25,000 in pledges in about 3 weeks and catapulting her into the race. Stevens was No. 2 the Democratic pack in fundraising with a total of $1.03 million in reported contributions as of July 18, and won her August 7 primary.
Related: Crowdpac’s Funding Engine is Powering Women Candidates
The budding race became even more dramatic in September, when Trott announced he would not seek re-election. With no incumbent, the race suddenly became competitive, and a host of Republican and Democratic candidates jumped into a race now seen as a toss up. While the district has a strong Republican history, Inside Elections, the Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball have all rated it a toss-up.
In the contest for the Democratic nomination, Stevens faced lawyer Dan Haberman, State Rep. Tim Greimel, businessman Suneel Gupta and Fayrouz Saad, another woman and former Obama administration official. (We were also following Saad’s campaign.) The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named the district one of its initial targets to flip in 2018, which means Stevens is likely to receive crucial funding and support from the committee ahead of the general election.
Stevens will face the winner of the Republican primary, business owner and Trump ally Lena Epstein (whose campaign we are following as well).
Stevens was born and raised in Oakland County, Mich., northwest of the Detroit metropolitan area. She attended American University as both an undergraduate and graduate student, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s in social policy and philosophy. Her career took her to Chicago and Washington, D.C., but she remained professionally and personally connected to her home state, she says, where she returned to live earlier this year.
From 2009 to 2011, Stevens served on the Auto Task Force team that helped return the auto industry to financial stability and saved 211,000 Michigan jobs. She then worked as a policy advisor at the Economic Development Administration within the Commerce Department and on the agency’s National Digital Engineering Manufacturing Consortium.
Before returning to Michigan, Stevens was in Chicago working to create what she describes as the country’s first online training program for digital manufacturing and launching a science, technology, engineering and math education program for middle and high school students that teaches digital manufacturing concepts and processes. She worked on the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns in 2007 and 2008 and, before that, on the re-election campaigns of Senator Debbie Stabenow and Governor Jennifer Granholm.
The Latest on the Campaign
November 7, 2018:
Women Running for Office in 2018 Achieve Record-Breaking Wins
A surge of women candidates this year resulted in record numbers of women securing political office. We saw it all — wins, losses and unclear outcomes — in our Running Women project. Read the full story.
Haley Stevens defeated rival Lena Epstein for an open Michigan seat representing an auto industry stronghold outside Detroit that had been held by a Republican and won by Trump in 2016. In doing so, she joined a parade of women who flipped congressional seats previously held by Republicans and helped return majority control of the House to the Democrats.
October 23, 2018:
Stevens Gains Notable Allies: Republican Women
By Jenna Miller
A remarkable alliance formed over the weekend between the Republican Women for Progress PAC and Democrat Haley Stevens, when the committee made a powerful $50,000 play to help her beat a Republican woman opponent.
The group has a history of backing Democrats, including Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, so it is not unusual for them to support candidates like Stevens, who is running for Congress in Michigan. But in this case, they are supporting Stevens over fellow Republican Lena Epstein, a businesswoman and avid Trump supporter. Their support could help Stevens win over a crucial group of swing voters: suburban women.
The political action committee is run by a group of “modern, forward-thinking” Republican women who “believe that Republican women deserve to speak up, not stand aside,” according to its mission statement. It has raised $1 million from various donors so far and is spending $50,000 of it on digital ads to help Stevens target the crucial group of voters.
Stevens is currently projected to get 50.4 percent of the vote to Epstein’s 45.5 percent and has a 7 in 9 chance of winning the election, according to the forecast model produced by FiveThirtyEight. The district leans Republican by 6.4 percentage points, according to the data-focused news site. Nationally, the site estimates Democrats have a 6 in 7 chance to take over majority control of the House.
Stevens is also leading Epstein in fundraising, $2.35 million to $957,000 in individual contributions, as of Sept. 30, according to the Federal Election Commission.
October 10, 2018
Democratic Candidates Take to Twitter to Oppose Kavanaugh Supreme Court Appointment, Defend Accuser Blasey
Multiple candidates in our Running Women 2018 project, including Haley Stevens, used social media to amplify the voices of women sexual assault survivors. Here’s what they said before, during and after Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. Read the full story.
October 9, 2018:
Haley Stevens Has 8-Point Lead on Lena Epstein, New York Times Poll Shows
By Jenna Miller
Democrat Haley Stevens is leading Republican opponent Lena Epstein by 8 percentage points in the race to represent Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, according to a live poll being conducted by the New York Times and Siena College.
The poll is still underway, so the numbers will continue to change with every phone interview the pollsters complete. But as of now, Stevens has the support of 45 percent of voters to Epstein’s 38 percent. About 17 percent are undecided. Pollsters had called 66,770 likely voters and spoken to 465 as of October 6. Because the sample size is still small, the margin of error is currently 5 points. This margin of error will continue to decrease as the the sample size grows and more people in this district are contacted.
The Times said that answers to several other questions it asked Michigan 11 voters suggest they are leaning toward picking a Democratic candidate, which would be Stevens. Half of voters said they wanted Democrats to take control of the House, compared to 41 percent who said they want the Republicans to retain control. Additionally, 52 percent of voters said they disapprove of President Donald Trump, compared to 42 percent who approve of him.
Epstein is a proud Trump supporter and was co-chair of his campaign in Michigan, a tight connection that may not help her as Election Day nears. But being a woman running for this seat may well help Epstein; 73 percent of voters surveyed by The Times and Siena agreed with the statement that it is important to elect more women into office. Then of course, with a woman running on the Democratic side as well, this district is destined to elect a woman into Congress.
September 20, 2018:
Stevens Runs First TV Ad for General Election
Haley Stevens on Thursday released her first general election broadcast television ad. It focuses tightly in on middle-class jobs and the economy and makes no mention of her opponent.
In the ad, dubbed “New Generation,” Stevens mentions her role in the Obama administration’s auto industry rescue as well as her experience creating a manufacturing job-training program and championing technical-skills training for youth. Stevens, a millennial, ends with the declaration: “A new generation will lead our state’s economy.”
September 5, 2018:
Hillary Clinton to Speak at Fundraising Event for Stevens and 4 Other Women Candidates
By Jenna Miller
Hillary Clinton is about to aim a national spotlight on Haley Stevens. The nation’s first female presidential candidate will headline a fundraiser in New York City this Wednesday for Stevens and four other first-time female candidates.
The event is set to take place at the home of Lauren Santo Domingo, a fashion executive at Moda Operandi and wife of billionaire Andrés Santo Domingo, Buzzfeed reported. In February, Santo Domingo hosted an event to support Senator Kamala Harris of California and her potential presidential race.
In addition to Stevens, who is running for Congress from Michigan, four other Democratic candidates are part of the fundraising event with special guest Clinton. Liuba Grechen Shirley, Lauren Underwood, Xochitl Torres Small and Gina Ortiz Jones are also running for Congress from New York, Illinois, New Mexico and Texas, respectively.
This is one of the first times former Secretary of State Clinton will formerly appear on the campaign trail this year, though she has made a number of campaign contributions through her political organization, Onward Together. She has contributed $5,000 to 19 different Democratic House candidates in June of 2018, according to the Federal Election Committee.
September 5, 2018:
Crain’s Detroit Business Names Epstein and Stevens to 40 Under 40 List
By Jenna Miller
Two competing Michigan Congressional candidates, Lena Epstein and Haley Stevens, were named jointly by Crain’s Detroit Business to its 2018 40 Under 40 list on Monday.
Crain’s Detroit Business annual list features 40 businessmen and women who are under the age of 40. This year, it effectively named 41 individuals because it listed Epstein and Stevens together.
Both women are in their 30s and originally from Oakland County. And Crain’s highlighted the fact that both have played notable roles in Michigan’s all-important automotive industry — and both experienced the government bailout of the industry following the 2008 financial crisis.
For all that they have in common, Epstein and Stevens are from opposing political worlds. Stevens, after working on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, became chief of staff to Steve Rattner, an American financier who led an Obama administration task force that in 2009 orchestrated the financial rescues of GM and Chrysler.
Epstein is an ally of President Donald Trump and co-owns her family business, Vesco Oil Corp., a vendor in the industry’s vast supply chain. She credits “many tremendous leaders” in the business community for saving the state’s auto industry, she told the publication, not the Democratic president.
August 31, 2018:
Stevens Has Edge Over Epstein, FiveThirtyEight Says
Democrat Haley Stevens has a 2 in 3 chance of defeating GOP rival Lena Epstein for Michigan District 11’s seat in Congress in November, according to prominent statistics-driven website FiveThirtyEight.
A win for Stevens in the election to decide who will succeed retiring Republican Rep. Dave Trott would flip the seat to the Democrats and potentially tip control of the U.S. House. It is expected to be very hard fought.
FiveThirtyEight forecasts Stevens will win 49.8 percent of the vote to Epstein’s 46.5 percent, based on a model that weights district polls in available (none were in this case), polls of similar districts, “fundamental” factors like fundraising and historical trends, and experts’ ratings.
August 15, 2018:
Momentum Builds for Stevens After Primary Win
In the week following her Democratic primary win, Haley Stevens’ congressional campaign got boosts from news that Sabato’s Crystal Ball changed its rating of her Michigan race to “leans Democratic” and from two notable endorsements.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan political analysis and handicapping newsletter, on August 8 changed its rating of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District from “toss-up.” It said it moved to “lean Democratic” in light of the results from Ohio’s 12th Congressional District special election to replace retiring Republican Patrick Tiberi. Although Democratic candidate Danny O’Conor lost, he came within a surprising 0.8 percent of his GOP opponent in a district that is more heavily Republican than Michigan 11. As such, the publication now believes Democrats in the Michigan district likely have a slight advantage.
The publication wrote that Stevens will need to step up her fundraising efforts, since Republican nominee Lena Epstein, a wealthy businesswoman, can self-fund her campaign. As of July 18, Epstein had raised $1.6 million, $1 million of which she donated herself, and Stevens had raised $1 million.
Inside Elections and Cook Political Reporting are still calling the race a toss-up.
On Wednesday, Stevens received former Vice President Joe Biden’s endorsement. “The Motor City makes cars, and Haley Stevens’ work as chief of staff on the Auto Rescue is a big part of why it still does,” Biden said. “I am proud to endorse her campaign for Congress because I know she will work to reduce healthcare costs, grow our economy, and fight for Michigan’s working families.”
In another sign that national funding is on the way to Stevens’ campaign, on August 8, Emily’s List, an organization that raises money to get pro-choice Democratic women into office, threw its support behind Stevens. “As the daughter of a CEO mother and public school teacher father who started a small business together, Haley knows what it takes to work hard and make a difference,” her profile on the Emily’s List site says.
August 8, 2018:
Women To Dominate Democratic General Election Line-Up in Michigan
Women are winning primaries in record-breaking numbers nationwide. So too in Michigan, where women’s victories will result in a near female monopoly on the Democratic side of the November ballot for key offices. In the 11th Congressional District, two women candidates we’ve been watching will face off in the general election, Haley Stevens for the Democrats and Lena Epstein for the Republicans. Read the full story.
July 30, 2018:
Stevens Snags Detroit Free Press Endorsement
Less than 2 weeks before the August 7 primary, the Detroit Free Press endorsed Haley Stevens in the crowded race to represent Michigan’s 11 Congressional District.
In selecting Stevens, the newspaper’s editorial board cited her experience working on an Obama era task force that bailed out the auto industry and “sophisticated understanding of the issues confronting employers of all sizes and the workers they depend on.”
It also pointed to Stevens’ sustained support ever since she declared her bid for the congressional seat, driven by determination to defend against President Donald Trump’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Her early candidacy galvanized Democrats and independents alarmed by their government’s trajectory, and she has sustained her intensity and fund-raising prowess for more than a year,” the publication wrote on Friday.
Incumbent Republican David Trott decided not to run for re-election, leaving his seat wide open in what Inside Elections is calling a toss-up race. The Democratic Party is expected to fight hard to help the primary winner succeed in November, as a victory would take the party one step closer to regaining a controlling majority of Congress.
“Honored to be endorsed by the Detroit Free Press. Together we can flip this seat blue,” Stevens wrote in a tweet.
Honored to be endorsed by the Detroit Free Press. Together we can flip this seat blue. #MI11 https://t.co/apEQHVV6Kl
— Haley Stevens (@HaleyLive) July 27, 2018
July 17, 2018:
Will Voters Favor Women Who Fight Sexual Harassment? Candidates in Michigan Will Find Out
In Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, Fayrouz Saad is focusing more on #MeToo than rivals Haley Stevens and Lena Epstein and speaking out about sexual harassment. Read the full story.
July 10, 2018:
Stevens Runs First TV Campaign Ad
Michigan congressional candidate Haley Stevens released her first television ad on July 10, titled “Deliver,” in which she boasts her role in the Obama administration team that rescued the auto industry and reaffirms her commitment to defend Obamacare.
Stevens was chief of staff of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Auto Task Force under President Barack Obama, which helped save the auto industry from collapse during the Great Recession with a $9.3 billion bailout. The auto rescue prevented a massive blow to the U.S. economy by saving 2.1 million auto industry jobs and another 2 million auto-related jobs.
In the ad, Stevens highlights the positive impact on Michigan, the home of many auto jobs, as proof to voters that she can deliver results for the state.
She also promised to defend President Obama’s healthcare achievement, if elected. “Now that Donald Trump is trying to sabotage Obamacare, I’m running for Congress to protect and improve it,” she says in the ad.
Stevens has promised to end the medical device tax, make healthcare more affordable for working families and add a public option to insurance offerings under the Affordable Care Act.
January 22, 2018:
Airtime at the Women’s March in Lansing
Haley Stevens stepped out at the Women’s March held in Michigan’s capitol city, Lansing, over the weekend.