Michigan Board of Education president launches campaign for U.S. Senate

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Pamela Pugh, the president of Michigan's Board of Education, announced Tuesday that she will seek the state's open U.S. Senate seat in 2024 and challenge U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin for the Democratic nomination.

Pugh has served on the state Board of Education for the past eight years and received more than 2 million votes in November to win a second eight-year term on the board. She is the first candidate to enter Michigan's Senate race to have won two statewide races.

Pugh formally announced her campaign Tuesday in Flint. She told the crowd that her campaign would focus on — among other things — educational issues.

“This is a campaign that is about safe schools, equitable funding and teachers that are respected and well paid," Pugh said. “A campaign that is about making sure that children have access to an education that prepares them for the future that they deserve.”

Having worked as Flint's chief public health advisor during the city's water crisis, Pugh also said that she has “answered the call to serve to be a fighter for the people” throughout her life.

The field of Democrats vying for Michigan's Senate seat has grown since Slotkin, a third-term congresswoman, announced her campaign in February. Former Detroit state Rep. Leslie Love, businessman Nasser Beydoun and attorney Zack Burns are all seeking the seat, which has been held for since 2001 by retiring Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Republicans Michael Hoover and Nikki Snyder, a State Board of Education member, are also running for the seat. Republicans have taken just one of Michigan’s last 15 Senate races, winning an open seat in 1994.

Slotkin remains the candidate to beat as one of the party's most prolific fundraisers. She raised $3 million in the first month of her Senate campaign after pulling in $10 million in her 2022 campaign, when she won reelection to the U.S. House in one of the country's most competitive districts.

Pugh is the second Black woman to enter the race, joining Love. There are currently no Black women serving in the upper chamber, and both Pugh and Love would be Michigan's first Black senator.