Lavora Barnes reelected as Michigan Democratic Party chair

Michigan will be home to one of the most competitive U.S. Senate races in 2024

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes was reelected for a third two-year term Saturday after she helped lead the party to historic wins in the battleground state in the 2022 midterms.

Barnes ran unopposed for the position during the Michigan Democratic Party’s spring convention in Detroit.

She became the first Black woman to head the party when she took over leadership in 2019 after working as its chief operating officer for more than three years.

Lavora Barnes (Credit: Kathleen Gray/Detroit Free Press)

The party has enjoyed historic success in Michigan since Barnes took over four years ago. Democrats flipped both the state House and Senate last year, in addition to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer being reelected for another four years, to win a trifecta in the state government for the first time in 40 years.

Michigan is also slotted to be the fifth state to hold its presidential primary in early 2024 under a new presidential primary calendar championed by President Joe Biden.

Barnes told The Associated Press on Friday that “there’s so much work still to be done” going into 2024 as Democrats gear up for key races across the state in addition to the presidential election.

Michigan Democrats will look to grow a slim House majority while also winning congressional races across the state, including an open U.S. Senate seat that is expected to be one of the most competitive in the country after Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced she was stepping down in 2024.

“I’m confident that we’re going to send a Democrat to the U.S. Senate again. But that’s a big undertaking for the party,” Barnes said. “We’re gearing up for it.”

The party holds a two-seat majority in the state House and multiple Democratic representatives have already indicated they will seek other offices in 2024.

Barnes said the party will need to “recruit strong candidates and recruit them early so that they can start working in their districts,” if they hope to retain the majority going forward.

Barnes selected state Rep. Jason Morgan, of Ann Arbor, and state Sen. Erika Geiss, of Taylor, to join her as vice chairs.

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