Junge joins GOP race to replace Rep. Kildee in Michigan’s 8th District
There are now two Republican candidates seeking to fill the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint), as Paul Junge of Grand Blanc officially joined the race on Friday, a day after Kildee announced he would not seek another term.
Junge joins Republican Martin Blank, a surgeon and U.S. Army veteran, who announced in October his campaign for the 8th Congressional District GOP nomination.
The race to fill the open seat could prove critical in determining party control of the U.S. House next term, with Republicans currently enjoying a slim majority.
Kildee’s retirement district including Genesee, Bay and Saginaw counties and portions of Midland County leaves open a seat made more competitive during the last redistricting process. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has moved the seat from “leans Democratic” to a “tossup.”
The 57-year-old Junge, who lost to Kildee by more than 10 points in 2022, previously worked under the Trump administration in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as well as a prosecutor, as a TV news anchor and with his family’s maintenance business.
“While liberal politicians are focused on hoarding more power in Washington DC and imposing political correctness, my focus will be empowering the American people to support their family and community,” said Junge in a statement. “I look forward to earning support and trust from 8th District voters so together we can help family budgets during these difficult times and build a better future for the next generation.”
This will be Junge’s third attempt to win a seat in Congress, having also lost to U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) in 2020 when she represented the 8th District prior to redistricting.
Other potential Republican candidates include former House Speaker Tom Leonard and state Rep. Bill G. Schuette (R-Midland).
On the Democratic side, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley confirmed on Thursday that he had launched an exploratory committee for a possible run. Other potential Democratic candidates could include former Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City) and state Sen. John Cherry (D-Flint).
Kildee, 65, said a cancer diagnosis earlier this year had caused him to reassess his career plans.