LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — By now, you’ve surely seen the commercials for State Senator Tom Barrett and U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin.

The two are in a hotly contested race for the newly drawn 7th District, which includes all of Ingham, Clinton, Shiawassee, and Livingston counties, and most of Eaton County.

While Slotkin, a Democrat, is in the U.S. House of Representatives right now, she’s not technically the incumbent because she currently represents the 8th District. However, due to redistricting, much of the areas she represents would remain the same.

On Thursday, the two candidates debated live in the WLNS studio in Lansing, hosted by 6 News Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick.

Skubick first asked the candidates which attack ads misconstrued their positions the most. Barrett cited a pro-Slotkin ad that claimed Barrett voted against an electric vehicle plant in his district, saying he didn’t disagree with providing jobs in his district, rather he disagreed with giving cash to major global corporations.

Slotkin called out Barrett for an ad that claimed she was living with another man, asking him if he was accusing her of sleeping with him. Barrett denied this claim, saying he was only supporting what was “on the record,” and called their dynamic inappropriate as the home she is renting is from a constituent and lobbyist.

Skubick moved on, asking if the candidates support tax credits for electric vehicles. Slotkin gave a tentative “yes” as long as the credits brought jobs to Michigan. Barrett was a strong “no,” saying the tax credits would only benefit millionaires.

Skubick then asked if the candidates would support raising the retirement age. Barrett said no, saying he wants to protect social security. Slotkin agreed, also saying she would not change the age for Medicare either.

Slotkin grilled Barrett on corporate income tax rates, asking if corporations paying 0% on taxes was fair. Barrett wouldn’t answer, saying he “doesn’t know” what the “exact number” would be. Slotkin then used Amazon as an example, asking if it was fair that they paid 0% in income taxes. Barrett responded by saying he pays sales tax on Amazon purchases. After more back-and-forth, Barrett said Jeff Bezos should spend more than $0 in income taxes.

The two were then asked if they would have certified the 2020 election on January 6, 2020. Slotkin said she would. Barrett said he “probably” would, but then cited concerns people had regarding the 2020 election and that congress should be a place for “discussions” regarding election certification. Slotkin then asked Barrett if he believed Biden won Michigan in 2020. Barrett then responded by criticizing actions made by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson during the election as well as the disqualification of multiple Republican candidates in the 2022 midterms. He did say he would certify the election after a “debate was had.”

The candidates were asked what federal policies they would axe. Barrett said he would undo the hiring of 67,000 IRS agents and use the funds to secure the border. Slotkin said she would axe the rule that allows insulin and other drugs to be given preferential treatment that allows them to charge exorbitant prices for their drugs. Barrett agreed with Slotkin.

Tim Skubick then asked the candidates if they supported the death penalty. Slotkin said yes in severe cases, specifically for repeat violent offenders. Barrett said he is anti-death penalty, saying there is too much risk in the system and innocent people are killed.

When asked about legalizing marijuana, Slotkin said she supported it, citing the risks of the all-cash business of legal marijuana. Barrett said he is in favor of decriminalizing it.

On gay marriage, Barrett said he voted to ban it in Michigan in 2004 and he would not support a federal law to codify gay marriage, saying the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize it was a settled matter and that marriage should be a state matter. Slotkin said gay marriage should be codified, citing the risks of gay marriage being overturned like Roe v Wade.

On Prop 2, Barrett said he opposed it.

The two closed the debate by stating they respected each others’ service.

To watch the full debate, check out the video player above.


We recently profiled both candidates and asked them about a variety of issues. You can find the link to those below.

You can watch the whole debate as it’s happening right here on this page and on our WLNS Facebook page. And if you miss it, check back later tonight for all the action.