Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference Media Coverage > 2024 Michigan Elections: Senate Candidates Kill Debate

2024 Michigan Elections: Senate Candidates Kill Debate

May 22, 2024

Bridge Michigan
Lauren Gibbons, Jordyn Hermani, and Simon D. Schuster
May 22, 2024

A scheduled bipartisan U.S. Senate debate at the Mackinac Policy Conference has been canceled after top-polling candidates declined to participate, organizers announced Wednesday.

The top three polling candidates in each party were invited earlier this month to partake in a bipartisan debate May 30 on Mackinac Island as part of the annual conference that attracts politicians and the state’s top business leaders.

But the Detroit Regional Chamber said Wednesday that Republican Mike Rogers and Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin did not accept the invitation, an outcome chamber officials characterized as an unexpected and “deeply concerning” development.

“The leading candidates’ refusal to engage in this vital forum… undermines our democratic process and hampers our state’s progress,” chamber officials wrote in a statement. “This is a clear reflection of today’s political dynamics, which increasingly discourage candidates from directly addressing voters’ concerns.”

The Slotkin campaign disputed the chamber’s characterization, however, saying she had initially agreed to a six-candidate bipartisan debate but changed course after learning at “the last minute” that Rogers and fellow Republican Justin Amash would not participate.

“We have been clear that if an equally partisan debate had been arranged, we would have been happy to participate,” said Austin Cook, a Slotkin campaign spokesperson.

Of the six candidates invited, only three — Republican Sandy Pensler and Democrats Hill Harper and Nasser Beydoun — agreed to participate, according to the chamber.