A challenger hoping to replace Republican Congressman Mike Bishop in November says a recent change in the political analysis of Michigan's 8th District is part of a wave that might bring a Democrat into the seat for the first time in almost 20 years.

On Friday, nonpartisan election forecasters at CNN shifted the rating for Elissa Slotkin’s race in Michigan’s 8th district to “toss-up,” noting that Slotkin raised $140,000 more than Bishop the last three months of 2017, although she still trails in cash on hand by about $260,000.

This is the first “toss-up” designation for the Slotkin campaign, and comes on the heels of Conor Lamb’s upset victory last week in Pennsylvania, a district President Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016. The CNN analysis notes that while Bishop won Michigan's 8th with a 17-point margin in 2016, Trump only carried the district by six points. The Slotkin campaign says the “toss-up" designation is especially significant, given that the 8th District was rated “likely Republican” by the Cook Political Report as late as October of last year when it was shifted to “leans Republican.” They also point to Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which they say recently shifted its district ratings in favor of Slotkin, who said Monday that, “What Conor Lamb did in Pennsylvania, we can do right here in Michigan,” insisting that her campaign was, "moving the needle" building "grassroots support and momentum in a tough district...”

In response, Bishop Campaign spokesman Stu Sandler reiterated the narrative that Slotkin moved back to the district to run for Congress and continues to own a home in Washington, D.C., saying, "she parachuted into the district at the behest of Nancy Pelosi and D.C. Democrats, " and "hid her DC home on her personal financial disclosure which make voters question what else she is hiding." Sandler also said the dynamics at play in the Conor Lamb win last week in Pennsylvania don't apply to Bishop's race for re-election, as "Lamb is not only from a well-known political family, an ex-Marine and a former federal prosecutor, he also avoided criticizing Trump and expressly campaigned as being in favor of gun rights and steel tariffs. He also said he wouldn’t support Rep. Nancy Pelosi to remain as minority leader."

Slotkin's campaign manager, Mela Louise Norman, brushed aside the criticisms, saying Slotkin is a, "third-generation Michigander who spent her early life on her family farm in Holly, in Oakland County, where she lives today." Norman added that it is, "disheartening that Congressman Bishop's campaign would distort the record of a fellow Michigander who has spent her career in national service, including three tours in Iraq" as well as, "serving in the White House under both Republican and Democratic administrations." She said Slotkin is "earning the support of voters across the district because of her service-centered mindset and her focus on bringing civility back to elected office."

Slotkin is not the only Democrat running for the 8th District nomination. MSU instructor Chris Smith of East Lansing touts himself as a non-establishment, progressive Democrat, who favors single-payer universal health care, gun regulation and humane immigration policies.

The CNN analysis also updated the race for Michigan's 11th District, which includes South Lyon and Lyon, Highland and Milford townships, from "toss-up" to "lean Democratic," as "Republican Rep. Dave Trott's retirement from this district -- home of Chrysler and many of the American auto giants' workers -- left it vulnerable to a Democratic takeover." (JK)