When US Rep. Dave Trott announced his retirement, rumors were immediately spread regarding who will run for the open 11th district seat. In what many expect to be a crowded field, only 3 candidates have officially announced. The field includes businesswoman Lena Epstein, former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski, and Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise.
Epstein, who served as a Michigan Co-Chair for the Donald Trump campaign was previously running for US Senate. Just days following the news of Trott’s retirement, she said she was ending her bid for the US Senate, and became the first to announce she would seek the Republican nomination for the 11th congressional district seat.
She’s gained a lot of traction with both 11th district Trump supporters and southeast Michigan business leaders. Epstein said in a press release that she filed last week with $782k cash on hand, and $495k in Gross Receipts for the quarter.
Epstein said in a statement, “I feel humbled and blessed by the outpouring of support we’ve received since I announced my candidacy for the 11th Congressional District. I want to express my thanks to the business leaders and grassroots supporters who have made contributions to our campaign. It is critically important that Republicans nominate a candidate who can defeat the Democrat next year because this will be a highly targeted seat. We must put our best candidate forward.”
Epstein appears to be the strongest candidate in the field so far. She has shown she can raise enough money to win the General Election, and already has a strong grassroots base of Trump supporters that are now fighting on her behalf.
Meanwhile, Raczkowski is being scrutinized by the media for his unsuccessful previous campaigns. Raczkowski has been a perennial candidate who hasn’t won election since the early 2000s when he served in the Michigan House.
“All told, Raczkowski lost a U.S. Senate race in 2002, withdrew from a bid for Michigan Republican Party chairman in 2005, withdrew from a second Senate run in 2007, lost a House election in the old 9th Congressional District (Oakland County) in 2010, considered running for the U.S. House again in the current 11th District in 2012 and 2013, and lost a race for state Senate in 2014.”
Selweski also reports in 2012, Raczkowski raised close to $750,000 before deciding not to run. Some of the funds raised were used to pay himself back for $55,000 in previous personal loans to his campaign committee.
Additionally, Raczkowski has been fined $7,030 by the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections for repeatedly failing to file required finance reports that publicly disclose which individuals and PACs have contributed to his campaign committee.
Raczkowski’s lack of transparency and lengthy history of unsuccessful bids for US Senate, Michigan GOP Chair, Congress, and State Senate should be cause for concern among 11th district Republicans. This is a must win race for the GOP in 2018, and it would be risky to put faith in a candidate that’s been unable to deliver.