The chances for a Democrat to unseat Republican Congressman Mike Bishop in November have been upgraded by a nonpartisan political forecaster.

On Friday, the Cook Political Report changed the designation of the 8th Congressional District from "leans Republican" to “toss up.” Two Democrats are vying to replace Bishop; Elissa Slotkin of Holly and Chris Smith of East Lansing. The district consists of all of Ingham and Livingston counties and the northern tier of Oakland County. Cook's House editor, David Wasserman, writes that while Bishop won re-election by 17 points in 2016, this year, “Democrats will finally have the resources to litigate Bishop's record, and multiple private surveys depict Bishop in weak shape.” Wasserman noted Slotkin's fundraising success, with more than $2.2 million in the bank, and her national security background. Slotkin served three tours in Iraq as a CIA analyst before serving in various Pentagon posts during the Bush and Obama administrations. Slotkin said "Cook's rating change echoes what we already know here in the district -- we have significant momentum; people are tired of the vitriol in Congress and are ready for a change. I'm proud that we're running a grassroots-powered campaign. We've raised more than Rep. Bishop without taking corporate PAC contributions, and we've got over 1,000 volunteers signed up -- many of whom have never been involved in politics before."

However, Bishop’s campaign consultant Stu Sandler points to The Detroit News endorsement of Smith over Slotkin in the August 7th Democratic primary. "Mike Bishop is in a strong position to win the district that he serves and where he has been a lifelong resident. Being that Elissa Slotkin just moved to the district, doesn't own a home and hasn't voted there yet, it's not a surprise that Elissa Slotkin finds herself in a tough primary against a Democrat opponent which the Detroit News finds to have 'more depth'. Coastal elites from New York, Massachusetts, and California are funding DC insider Elissa Slotkin’s campaign with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Voters in the eighth districts are smart enough not to let coastal elites and DC insiders buy this seat.”

That’s a point the Cook Political Report noted, saying that the label of her being a “carbetbagging elitist” is “Slotkin's most glaring vulnerability,” noting that she hadn't been registered to vote in Michigan since she left for college. But despite that, it said, “her cash advantage means she'll likely get to define the terms of debate just as much as Bishop” and that, “In this environment, it's a Toss Up.” (JK)