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GOP shores up Michigan effort as Dems lose Senate incumbent advantage

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Republicans are making an early effort for the open Senate seat in Michigan, which is now in play as Democrats brace to lose their incumbency advantage with the departure of Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) announced a seven-figure expenditure on a new field program in the battleground state on Friday, emphasizing its effort to flip the long-time Democratic seat. 

The Republican Senate campaign arm will prop up GOP frontrunner former Rep. Mike Rogers in Michigan, months ahead of the state’s official primary, where he still faces challengers in wealthy businessman Sandy Pensler and former Rep. Justin Amash. 

SCHUMER JUSTIFIES CONGRESSIONAL INVITE TO NETANYAHU AMID LIBERAL OUTRAGE

Michigan Senate candidate Mike Rogers is a former House representative. (Sam Wolfe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Rogers, who is endorsed by former President Trump, is expected to come out the victor in the Aug. 6 primary. 

The early spend includes ground-level infrastructure meant to increase Republican voter turnout and reach individuals who haven’t yet locked in their plan for the November election, the NRSC said.

“The Michigan Senate race is one of our top pickup opportunities in 2024. This investment is a direct reflection of our confidence in Mike Rogers’ ability to flip this seat in November,” NRSC spokesperson Maggie Abboud said in a statement.

BIDEN ADMIN ACCUSED OF PLAYING POLITICS WITH FLORIDA FUNDING IN PRO-UNION PUSH

donald trump mike rogers split

Former President Trump endorsed Rogers for the Republican nomination. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

“Today’s unprecedented investment by the NRSC in support of Mike Rogers makes it very clear that not only is Michigan winnable, it’s the top opportunity for Republicans to secure the Senate Majority,” said Rogers campaign spokesperson Chris Gustafson in a statement.

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“Along with our strong partnership with the Trump campaign and Republicans up and down the ballot, this investment allows our team to expand our outreach and share Mike’s message using a proven data-driven approach, and help ensure we defeat the Biden-Slotkin agenda to flip Michigan red in November,” he added. 

TRUMP VP CONTENDER LEADS GOP EFFORT TO REACH BLACK VOTERS AS BIDEN LOSES GRIP

Elissa Slotkin

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., is expected to win the Democratic nod. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Stabenow’s retirement has provided Republicans the opportunity to take on a candidate without an incumbent advantage, which is likely to be Democratic frontrunner Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich. She also faces a primary challenger in actor Hill Harper. 

Slotkin’s campaign did not provide comment to Fox News Digital in time for publication. 

The race is rated as “Lean Democratic” by non-partisan political handicapper the Cook Political Report, alongside other close Senate races in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Wisconsin.

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OBAMA STRESSES CRITICAL DEM SENATE MAJORITY FOR APPOINTING PREFERRED JUDGES

Biden/Trump split

Trump is leading President Biden by just a few points in Michigan. (Win McNamee/Michael M. Santiago)

In response to the announced buy, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Maeve Coyle said in a statement, “Republicans are engulfed in a radioactive, expensive primary that will leave their eventual nominee deeply damaged.” 

“Meanwhile, every day is bringing new and damaging revelations about National Republicans’ chosen candidate Mike Rogers — like how he supports a national abortion ban, enriched himself through ties to Chinese businesses, and ditched Michigan to live in a million dollar Florida mansion the first chance he got,” she said. 

Michigan is considered a significant pickup opportunity for Republicans, both congressionally and in the presidential race. In an April Fox News Poll, Trump led President Biden in Michigan by three points, 49% to 46%. In April 2020, Biden led Trump 49% to 41%.

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Detroit, MI

Morning 4: Police find body on shoulder of I-96 in Metro Detroit — and other news

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Morning 4: Police find body on shoulder of I-96 in Metro Detroit — and other news


Morning 4 is a quick roundup of stories we think you should know about to start your day. So, let’s get to the news.


What we know after police find body on shoulder of I-96

Police discovered a body on the shoulder of I-96 early Tuesday morning.

Here’s what we know.


Stellantis recalling nearly 1.2 million vehicles: What to know

Stellantis is recalling nearly 1.2 million vehicles in the U.S. and Canada to fix a software glitch that can disable the rearview cameras.

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Read the report here.


Singer Justin Timberlake arrested and accused of driving while intoxicated on New York’s Long Island

Singer Justin Timberlake was arrested early Tuesday and is accused of driving while intoxicated on New York’s Long Island, authorities said.

Read more here.


State has had enough of Metro Detroit cemetery owner’s violations

A longtime cemetery manager in Metro Detroit is up against the state, which is seeking to shut down his operations due to numerous violations.

Read the See the report here.

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Weather forecast: Storms possible amid excessive heat in Metro Detroit: What to expect


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Milwaukee, WI

Evers seeks vendor for Milwaukee Public Schools audit

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Evers seeks vendor for Milwaukee Public Schools audit


Gov. Tony Evers said it’s “critical” that Milwaukee Public Schools cooperate with the Department of Public Instruction as he takes steps to begin independent audits of the district’s operations and instructional practices. 

The guv announced potential auditors will have until next Monday to respond to a request for services to conduct an operational audit of Milwaukee Public Schools, which will be done under an existing state contract with entities that have experience with educational audits. The guv also announced a list of nine eligible vendors. 

“It is critical the district cooperates with the DPI as it relates to the financial audit as we take steps to begin additional audits as soon as possible with independent auditors who have the necessary education sector experience to conduct both audits thoughtfully and effectively,” Evers said. “I look forward to these audits getting underway so we can support kids, families, and educators in MPS, as well as the greater community.”

According to the request for services, the operational audit seeks an “unbiased, independent” assessment of MPS, including a review of compliance and reporting functions, financial management and controls, a review of human resources processes and policies, and recommendations for the district. 

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Milwaukee Board of School Directors President Marva Herndon in a statement today said the district is committed to resolving the situation. 

“As we continue to focus on the students, families, staff and community of MPS, we welcome and appreciate the support of our partners in the governor’s office,” Herndon said. “We, too, are committed to identifying root causes of district challenges so they can be addressed moving forward.”

Evers last week said he would move forward with plans to audit the district’s operations and how it’s educating students. Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, has called for the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct a review instead. He called Evers’ decision “disappointing” and said the guv’s administration “must be careful to choose an auditor with no ulterior motives or other entanglements.”

Evers has requested a waiver to expedite the process of hiring an auditor with experience auditing school and classroom settings to conduct an instructional audit of MPS.



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Minneapolis, MN

Utility regulators hosted annual conference in Minneapolis with money from entities they oversee

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Utility regulators hosted annual conference in Minneapolis with money from entities they oversee


Minnesota’s utility regulators hosted a record more than 600 people in downtown Minneapolis last week for an annual regional conference, but some of the sponsors helping to pay for the event are also at the whim of the regulators’ rulings.

That financial relationship at the center of the Mid-America Regulatory Conference (MARC) has some energy advocacy groups feeling uneasy about what they worry is a conflict of interest. But the lead organizer of this year’s event, Katie Sieben, the DFL chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), argued the gathering helps commissioners foster connection and make stronger decisions, not blur the lines between government and business.

This year, most of the sponsors for the conference that wrapped last week either have regular business before the PUC, participate in major cases or represent those that do. That includes: unions; trade groups for power developers; trade groups that represent electric and gas companies; prominent local environmental nonprofits; and several law firms that help businesses navigate the regulatory system.

“It creates an optics and public trust issue that could be particularly damaging to commissions that are doing their jobs in good faith and trying to invite diverse voices to the table as the Minnesota PUC has begun to do,” said Karlee Weinmann, a Minnesota-based researcher for the national advocacy group Energy and Policy Institute that is broadly critical of influence from utilities and fossil fuel interests. “It gives the impression that access can be bought.”

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Sponsorships are commonplace for MARC and other utility regulator associations but still periodically draw criticism, including MARC’s event last year in Michigan.

Sieben, however, said she deliberately worked to highlight voices from tribes, unions, diversity and equity advocates and consumer groups during the four-day Minneapolis conference, which MARC has put on since the 1950s. She said the conference broke no ethics rules and it is good for regulators to meet during an “increasingly complex” energy transition.

“Our access as regulators is not for sale,” Sieben said. “I stand by the decisions that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission have made since I’ve been the chair of the commission, and the public interest is always what we’re striving for, and I think that we have protected and will continue to protect [it].”

Big spenders

Top sponsors in Minneapolis were Google, regulatory consulting firm AESL and three unions: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49. Each chipped in at least $20,000, though there were sponsorships as low as $1,500. Signage on booths, TV displays, hotel key cards and flower arrangements promoted sponsors around the Renaissance Hotel.

MARC bans entities it directly regulates from sponsoring the event, including utility companies such as Xcel Energy or CenterPoint Energy in Minnesota since the PUC oversees their rates and business. Trade groups representing utility companies were sponsors, however, including Edison Electric Institute and the American Gas Association.

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Kevin Pranis, marketing manager for LIUNA in Minnesota, said “MARC provided a unique opportunity to show other states what organized labor can contribute, and that’s why you saw so many unions step forward. We’re ready to be at the table and tired of being on the menu.”

Beyond sponsors, MARC’s other income comes from registration fees for the event, which top out at $775 for the general rate. Minnesota’s biggest electric and gas utilities had several people sign up for the conference — registrations that would add up to thousands of dollars — as did environmental groups, energy developers and state officials.

MARC, made up of utility regulators in 14 states from Minnesota to Texas, rotates its annual conference among member states. The event is the nonprofit’s moneymaker, bringing in a net profit of $92,480 last year and $103,350 in 2022.

That cash funds the conference itself, as well as other basics like audits and the salary of a part-time executive coordinator. It also pays for travel stipends — $500 this year — for commissioners to attend the conference.

MARC also covers travel, hotels and food for members who attend a commissioners-only meeting typically held in January in warm-weather states such as Texas or Oklahoma. In Houston this year, the stipend was up to $1,000. Sieben said MARC tends to prioritize cities with direct flights and less risk of disruptive winter storms. MARC also sometimes pays for commissioners to attend trainings on utility rates.

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Coming together

The Minneapolis conference included substantive panels on energy topics such as electrifying transportation, data centers, the Inflation Reduction Act, building a workforce, equity and affordability. This year, panels featured regulators from the state and federal level, utility executives and industry leaders, including Xcel President Ryan Long, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and Lower Sioux Indian Community President Robert Larsen.

MARC organized tours of big or notable energy facilities. And there was entertainment, including a walking tour of downtown Minneapolis, a Minnesota Twins game and a reception with food and drinks that LIUNA hosted and featured Sieben.

Weinmann, helping a consumer advocate group in a case about Xcel gas rates at the PUC, said it’s helpful for regulators to be on the cutting edge of hard topics during a challenging transition away from fossil fuels. She also said Minnesota is better than other commissions in being more inclusive of underrepresented voices in debates about utility rates and power projects.

Larsen praised the PUC’s steps to work with tribes during a keynote panel for the event. Sieben said it was good for other states to hear about how Minnesota incorporates tribal voices and other perspectives, such as an Xcel foreman who spoke on a panel about the benefits of the company’s massive Becker solar project as the huge coal plant next door retires.

Pranis also said the the PUC is “increasingly recognized as a national leader in efforts to bring the priorities and voices of working families into regulatory decisions that have historically been dominated by energy companies and environmental advocates.”

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Still, John Farrell, a critic of the regulated monopoly system for power companies and co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said not everyone has the opportunity to be high-level financial sponsors for events like MARC. Weinmann said state legislators could approve more funding to cover events with utility regulators.

Donors are “getting decisions that are the basis for whether or not their business is successful or not, and here they are having a financial relationship with their regulators outside of that,” Farrell said. “It’s really bothersome.”



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