Michigan Primary 2022 Candidate Guide: 11th Congressional District

Get to know the candidates running in the 11th Congressional District in the August primary.

Michigan Primary Election Candidate Guide 2022

Editor’s note: WDET distributed surveys to some local, county and congressional candidates in key races on the August primary ballot to gain a deeper understanding of what’s motivating them to run. Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

11th Congressional District
Map by Nikki Roach/WDET

Due to redistricting this year’s elections race, the 11th Congressional District has pitted two incumbent Democratic lawmakers against each other: Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens. For more analysis on this race, listen to this recent conversation with Detroit Free Press reporter Todd Spangler on Detroit Today.

Democrat

Andy Levin

Why are you running for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District? I’m running in Michigan’s new 11th district, which includes my home in Bloomfield Township smack dab in the middle of it. It’s where my wife, Mary, and I have raised our four children and have lived for the last 16 years. I’ve voted in this district for something like 16 consecutive elections. While it’s not technically “forever,” that does feel like how long my family has been in the new 11th district! My roots in MI-11 cover five generations, going back to when my great-grandparents came to the U.S. to escape persecution and became Birmingham’s first Jewish family, saved up enough money to open a small business and raise a family. The new 11th district is also the best fit for me and my progressive values and I’m super excited to represent a district with such racial and economic diversity.

What are the top 3 priority issues that the 11th Congressional District faces and what actions would you, as its representative, take regarding each of them? We’ve got to take three of the most pressing issues of our lifetimes head on: protecting abortion rights, defeating climate change and addressing and reducing income and wealth inequality.

I’ve called for an end to the filibuster to codify abortion rights and have worked hand in hand with reproductive justice activists. I was an early, vocal supporter of the Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative and played a crucial role in getting Michigan’s largest health care system to continue to provide abortion care after the Roe decision came down. A member of the Pro-Choice Caucus, I introduced the first-ever congressional resolution honoring abortion providers and will stop at nothing to protect the freedom for each and every person to control their own body.

Additionally, I’m an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal and have written multiple pieces of climate legislation with partners like Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown because we need bold action to protect our one precious Earth and stop the harmful effects of overheating.

I’ve been fighting to free workers to form unions, raise workers’ wages and make the wealthiest pay their fair share of taxes so we can close income disparities. I even led the successful effort to pass a resolution granting our own workers in the House of Representatives the right to organize and bargain for a better life, and those rights go into effect on July 18!

What is your stance on guns in the U.S.? I’m outraged that our country continues to have by far the highest rate of gun violence among all developed nations. We must continue to push for commonsense gun reform and save lives. I voted to send the most significant federal gun safety legislation in nearly thirty years to President Biden’s desk. Still, we must do much more to protect our communities. After the Oxford High School shootings, I introduced the Protect Children Through Safe Gun Ownership Act, with support from both major teachers’ unions and all major gun safety groups. We need an assault weapons ban, comprehensive background checks, safe storage measures and remain clear-eyed that the fight to end the public health epidemic of gun carnage is just beginning.

What is your stance on abortion? I remain outraged that the Supreme Court has eroded its legitimacy and struck down one of the most important freedoms in this country — the right to an abortion. As a member of the Pro-Choice Caucus, I’m determined to support abortion providers and patients and fight back against right-wing prosecutors who try to attack access to abortion here in Michigan. I’m also grateful to partner alongside my progressive colleagues in the House who have shared their abortion stories like Barbara Lee, Pramila Jayapal, Cori Bush and Ayanna Pressley and demonstrate how important it is for male allies like myself to step up and fight for our daughters, sisters, family and friends and treat abortion like the human right it is.

How would you address the current inflation crisis in the U.S.? The pandemic triggered a global supply chain crisis; the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to price hikes for oil, foodstuffs and fertilizer; and now, corporations are taking advantage of this moment to raise prices. We need corporations and CEOs to pay their fair share so the federal government has the resources needed to bring costs down for working families. The Senate must act on as much of the Build Back Better Act as possible. We passed that package in the House only because the Progressive Caucus held the line to demand a vote on it, and it includes many measures that reduce costs for Americans in housing, childcare, education, and electric vehicles. I strongly supported bills the House just passed to lower gasoline and food prices and ensure families can access formula for their babies.  Finally, I introduced the bipartisan GOT Truckers Act to ease supply chain shortages and get goods to shelves faster by paying long haul truckers fairly when they work overtime.

What energy and environment policies do you support? Smart policy can help us transition to renewable energy more easily. We must stop subsidizing fossil fuels, which I voted to do. An original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, I have written multiple bills to aid our transition and received all 10 environmental/climate group endorsements in this race. I also secured $6M in Green New Deal federal community project funding for my constituents this year. I wrote the American Energy Worker Opportunity Act to provide wage replacement, health care and retirement benefits and education to fossil fuel workers whose jobs will be impacted by the move to clean energy. I introduced the EV Freedom Act and helped secure funding in our Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act to expand EV charging infrastructure necessary for widespread EV use, and ensured we included tax credits for EV purchases in Build Back Better. I led the BUILD Green Act, which invests $500 billion to electrify our transportation sector. We don’t need more words about the disastrous overheating of our planet. We need legislators who actually take smart, broad and effective action!

Listen to a conversation with Levin.

 


Haley Stevens

View Stevens’ campaign website here.

Listen to a conversation with Stevens.

 


Related: Michigan’s 11th Congressional District race: The differences between Andy Levin and Haley Stevens


Republican

Mark Ambrose

Mark Ambrose
Courtesy of Mark Ambrose

Age: 52

Current job: Regional Manager – Private Banking

Education: Brother Rice High School, Bloomfield Township; U.S. Military Academy at West Point, B.Sc. in Systems Engineering; Columbia University, Master of International Affairs -Russia and the Post-Soviet States; Columbia Business School, New York: MBA (Master of Business Administration)

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less: I am a U.S. Army veteran, a father of three, and a husband for 18 years to a brilliant wife, who served as a prosecutor for a decade and half. I am a businessman who has spent 25 years in the financial sector and earned a designation as a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). I want to use my background in finance and our armed forces to address the most pressing issues facing our families and our country. I would like to be a voice of reason in Congress, who can help put our economy on the right track, secure our borders, and keep America safe at home and abroad.

Why are you running for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District? I believe that Michigan and America’s leadership has put us on the wrong track. Americans are struggling to get by due to the reckless spending and economic policies of the Biden Administration. Stories of hard-working American families being forced to go on food stamps for the first time due to the rising cost of essential household items should outrage any American. Our government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyzing moment that made me want to run for office.

What are the top 3 priority issues that the 11th congressional district faces and what actions would you, as its representative, take regarding each of them?

1. The economy: We must cut down on wasteful government spending and bring sound fiscal policy to Congress to prevent runaway inflation and put our economy back on the right track.

2. Immigration: The situation at our southern border is out of control. I would support enhanced border security and funding for our Border Patrol agents who are severely understaffed.

3. Foreign Policy/Military: This administration has made us less safe and less respected abroad by emboldening our foreign adversaries. Our military should not be used to carry out social engineering policies and should refocus its efforts on being a dominant fighting force that can never be challenged.

What is your stance on guns in the U.S.? I am pro-2nd Amendment and believe that the gun laws currently in place are sufficient to address gun violence. We must enforce current laws.

What is your stance on abortion? I am pro-life and would support further efforts to protect the unborn at both the state and federal levels.

How would you address the current inflation crisis in the U.S.?

1) Vote against any further irresponsible and reckless spending

2) Advocate for maximizing domestic energy production to lower costs for all Americans

3) Advocate for a return to an independent Federal Reserve that failed to act a year ago before inflation spiraled out of control. The Federal Reserve has become politicized and echoed the talking points of this Administration, such as “Inflation is transitory.”

What energy and environment policies do you support? I believe that there will eventually be a time and a place to shift towards alternative energy, but with the cost of fuel rapidly increasing, the United States must use any means necessary to alleviate the pain that U.S consumers are facing. This would include additional drilling and a regulatory environment that does not harm U.S oil production. We must achieve energy independence once again.

Listen to a conversation with Ambrose.

 


Matthew DenOtter

11th Congressional District Republican candidate Matthew DenOtter
Courtesy of Matthew DenOtter

Age: 48

Current job: Sales, Johnson & Johnson

Education: B.A. in Criminal Justice, Calvin College

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less: My wife, Lisa, and I are the proud parents of 6-year-old Violet and active members at Northridge Church. I’m a businessman and have worked in sales at a health care company for decades. Throughout my life, I’ve had the chance to serve our community as a volunteer, including at Our Lady of the Fields Camp. I’m a graduate of Calvin University with a degree in Criminal Justice. I look forward to meeting each of you on the campaign trail as we work to take our message to Washington. I’m passionate about my beliefs and am motivated to share my vision and listen to each of you as we continue on this journey.

Why are you running for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District? I’m a proud conservative Republican. My core beliefs are that we must put our nation first, that the federal government should not be infringing on our day-to-day lives, that freedom and liberty are essential, and that we must stand for law and order. I want to get rid of Haley Stevens and Andy Levin who do not represent the values of our communities – we need to bring common sense back to Oakland County.

What are the top 3 priority issues that the 11th congressional district faces and what actions would you, as its representative, take regarding each of them? Economy and inflation, supply chain issues/pending disruption, and our crumbling infrastructure

What is your stance on guns in the U.S.? “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is a pretty self explanatory statement. I will not support any legislation that will interfere with Americans’ right to protect themselves or their families. I will oppose the agenda in place that seeks to make law-abiding gun-owners criminals. Congress must find better ways to enforce laws that are already on the books, keep guns out of the hands of criminals and ensure our kids are safe in school.

What is your stance on abortion? I’m 100% pro-life. But being pro-life is far more than being ONLY pro-birth. I have a policy plan that will encourage adoption over abortion by incentivizing doctors to provide free ultrasounds for any woman considering an abortion. My plan for increased patient education would also be coupled with further funding to make the adoption process more affordable for parents — including tax incentives and even a direct stipend to families trying to complete an adoption. This issue doesn’t have to be divisive — it can actually unite people from all walks of life and political ideologies. Rather than treating an unexpected pregnancy or child as a problem, we should work together to create a welcoming community, a system that promotes the family and is truly pro-life. As your Congressman, I will fight to protect unborn children and our families.

How would you address the current inflation crisis in the U.S.? Congress could act today to immediately alleviate the inflation crisis that’s financially crushing Americans by reining in the excessive spending of taxpayer dollars and implementing regulatory restraint. We could unleash the country’s energy potential by ending the Democrats’ war on fossil fuels, which would decrease the pain at the pump and drive down overall energy costs. Instead of pushing for partisan climate initiatives or for trillions more in government spending, we should be driving down inflation by tackling the supply chain crisis, cutting taxes and rolling back growth-curbing regulations.

What energy and environment policies do you support? Michigan is known for its vast natural beauty and plentiful natural resources. When elected to Congress I will fight to support sound environmental policies like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the American Outdoors Act and other important causes that build on generations of conserving our state’s rich outdoor heritage.

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  • Dorothy Hernandez

    Dorothy Hernandez is Digital Editor for 101.9 WDET, creating digital editorial content. Her love of radio began when she had a radio show in college when she and her roommate played '80s music in the middle of the night.