Editor’s Note: This story is part of our Running Women project following 15 compelling women candidates in 2018.
Michigan primary results are still coming in Wednesday, but one thing is clear: Women will be dominating the Democratic ballot in November.
Michigan has four statewide positions on the ballot this year, and the Democratic nominees for all four will be female candidates. Gubernatorial hopeful Gretchen Whitmer and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is running for reelection, both won their Democratic primaries. The Democratic nominees for secretary of state and attorney general will be decided at a party convention scheduled for August 25 to August 26, but Jocelyn Benson and Dana Nessel are expected to be named.
Meanwhile, a number of women running for congressional seats in Michigan will move on to the general election. A total of 15 female candidates ran primary campaigns in the state, and 10 won. Eight of 13 Democratic women who ran won their races. Four of them will challenge Republican incumbents, in the hopes of being part of a progressive wave that flips the House from red to blue.
Indeed, Tuesday turned into a record-breaking night for women, as primary polls closed in Michigan, Kansas, Missouri and Washington. As of now, 185 women candidates for Congress are moving on to the 2018 general election, with 15 state primaries still to come. In 2016, 168 women candidates won major party nominations for House seats, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.
“Last night, Democratic women continued to make history with a slew of victories from Michigan to Washington,” DNC women’s media director Elizabeth Renda said in a statement. “It’s no wonder why we’re seeing these candidates soaring to victory in races across the country — strong, female Democratic leadership is exactly what the country is looking for in response to the Trump administration’s toxic, anti-woman and anti-middle-class family policies.”
Among the women facing off in Michigan primaries on Tuesday were 11th District candidates Haley Stevens and Fayrouz Saad, both Democrats, and Republican Lena Epstein, all three of whom The Story Exchange has been following this year in its Running Women project.
With the seat open and considered a toss-up, both the Democratic and Republican primaries were crowded races with the votes broadly split across candidates. As the final results came in Wednesday morning, Stevens and Epstein proved victorious, albeit with slim margins.
Stevens won 27 percent of the vote, with runner up state Rep. Tim Greimel lagging just 5 points behind. Saad came in fourth with 19 percent of the vote. Stevens claimed victory in a statement released Wednesday morning. “Years of partisan bickering and dysfunction in Washington have not served the best interests of the hard working families who power our economy. The time for inaction is over — on Day One in Congress, Michiganders can count on me to fight for our state, just like I always have,” she said.
As for the Republican primary, Epstein, who was the state’s Trump campaign co-chair, received 31 percent of the vote, followed by Rocky Raczkowski, who won 26 percent. “We have a tough fight ahead. We will work even harder to earn the support of voters across the 11th District — both Republican and Democrat — with an inspiring message for an even brighter future for our state and country,” Epstein said in a Facebook post.
Congratulations to @LenaEpstein of Michigan on a job well done. Also, thanks for your great support!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2018
In another notable race for women, in Michigan’s 13th District, Rashida Tlaib is on track to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, a distinction that Saad had also sought. Tlaib won 33 percent of the Democratic vote and, since there is no Republican contender, will run in the general election unopposed.