Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 2, 2015

Democrats Lose Top Recruit to Challenge Bentivolio (Updated)

Democrats lost their top recruit to challenge Bentivolio. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:01 p.m. | Interim Wayne State University Law School Dean Jocelyn Benson will not run for Congress, according to a Capitol Hill source.

This fall, Benson expressed interest in running for the Democratic nomination to take on Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., in the 11th District. Top House Democrats had recruited her to run, and she attended a caucus meeting in mid-October amid the government shutdown. Democrats must pickup 17 seats to win control of the House. Benson’s would-be campaign was part of a Democratic effort to expand the map beyond 2012’s contested seats.

The Detroit Free Press reported the Benson news earlier on Tuesday.

Bentivolio is one of this cycle’s most endangered incumbents, facing challenges in both the primary and the general election. Attorney David Trott is challenging the incumbent in the GOP primary, and he’s already put some of his own wealth toward his campaign.

Another Democrat, former State Department Bobby McKenzie, announced his candidacy in October. The 11th District is rated Republican Favored by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

In other Michigan House race news, Democrat Pam Byrnes picked up a full endorsement from EMILY’s List, an organization that seeks to boost female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights into elected office.

Byrnes is challenging Republican Rep. Tim Walberg in Michigan’s 7th. That race is rated a Republican Favored contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Updated 2:01 p.m.

National Democratic sources pointed to recent events at Wayne State University as an underlying cause for Benson’s decision. Earlier in the fall, a law student was murdered.

“Over the past month there has been a great deal of media speculation about local and national efforts to recruit me for a possible bid for Congress,” Benson wrote in an email to Wayne State University faculty. “While I am touched by the efforts of people in the 11th Congressional District to encourage me to represent them in Washington, my priority is leading the Law School as Interim Dean. For that reason, I want you to know that I will not be a candidate for Congress in 2014.”

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