LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The race for the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District is heating up.

Republican congressman Peter Meijer lost his spot in the August primary election. Voters instead nominated John Gibbs.

Though Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Grand Rapids, has been reliably red for years, the newly drawn map is giving Democrats hope that they could swing the election.   

Hillary Scholten, a lawyer with strong roots in the district’s community, is the Democratic candidate.

Scholten was slotted to debate her opponent Gibbs, but the event was canceled after he backed out.

“I think he’s afraid to answer questions of the voters. He was asked many times for a reason why he couldn’t [participate] and he couldn’t provide one,” Scholten said.

On the issue of abortion, Scholten said voters ‘overwhelmingly made their intention clear’ with all the signatures on the petition for it to be added to the ballot.

She believes the new district maps are an opportunity to better represent the voters within the affected communities.

“We feel here in west Michigan excited about the new district. The commission looked at a strong community of interest that runs along the Grand River watershed; the I-96 corridor connecting Grand Rapids out to the lake shore,” Scholten said.

Scholten said she is running to service her community, not out of personal interest.

“I’m not doing this to, to get rich. I’m doing this out of a deep sense of service to our community because the fact of the matter is families are struggling,” Scholten said.