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Kristen McDonald Rivet enters race for hyper-competitive MI 8th congressional district

State Senator Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City).
Rick Brewer
State Senator Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City) announced Wednesday she is running to fill Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District seat following the retirement of incumbent U.S Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Twp.) The district is considered one of the most competitive in the country.

State Senator Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City) is running for Michigan’s open 8th Congressional District seat. She announced Wednesday that she is seeking the Democratic nomination in the August primary.

The 8th district is anchored in Flint, Saginaw and McDonald Rivet’s hometown of Bay City. McDonald Rivet said she is a good fit for the seat because her Senate district includes those communities. Rivet said she considers herself a moderate Democrat who rejects the nation’s angry political culture.

“We have to be able to respectfully disagree and compromise, which is what the American people expect us to do. So, for me everything is an open door and an open dialogue,” she told Michigan Public Radio.

The district will likely be one of the nation’s most competitive in November, especially since the retirement of the incumbent, U.S. Rep Dan Kildee (D-Flint) makes it an open seat.

With Kildee’s departure, both The Cook Political Report and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball now rank the seat as a toss-up.
McDonald Rivet’s legislative record includes work on childcare issues and abortion rights. She also sponsored the law that requires firearms to be locked in a safe place when not in use.

McDonald Rivet’s husband, Joe Rivet, is also a well-known political name in the area, having served three terms in the Michigan House and on the Bay County Board of Commissioners. McDonald Rivet’s sister is Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald.

The National Republican Congressional Committee released a statement following McDonald Rivet’s announcement.

“Kristen McDonald Rivet has chosen to align herself with extreme Michigan Democrats and slimy lobbyists throughout her entire career,” said NRCC spokesman Mike Marinella. “She is nothing more than a career politician who is out of touch with the voters of Michigan.”             

When asked, Marinella said his “slimy lobbyist” comment referred to McDonald Rivet’s work as a lobbyist for the Michigan Head Start Association, an advocacy group for early childhood education, as a staffer for the Michigan Department of Education and as an advisor to then-Governor Jennifer Granholm.

There is still time for more candidates to file to run in the August primary. Already announced candidates include Michigan Board of Education President Pamela Pugh and Daniel Moilanen, the executive director of the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts. Republicans Paul Junge – who lost to Kildee two years ago and Dr. Martin Blank have announced they are running for the GOP nomination.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network.