One of the candidates seeking to unseat Republican Congressman Mike Bishop is challenging him to attend a town hall meeting this weekend in Brighton.

Democrat Elissa Slotkin called on Bishop to attend the bipartisan “Town Hall for Our Lives” taking place on Saturday, April 7th at the Lakelands Golf and Country Club. The gathering is being hosted by The Town Hall Project, which helped organize the March for Our Lives demonstrations that took place across the country on March 24th seeking an end to gun violence in schools. Slotkin, a former intelligence official who has held posts at the Pentagon, State Department and CIA, said that, "In the wake of the Parkland shooting and the nationwide March for Our Lives movement...Rep. Bishop has an opportunity to have a conversation with his constituents about an issue that is important to Michigan students, parents and teachers across the political spectrum."

Bishop's campaign spokesman Stu Sandler told WHMI that "Congressman Mike Bishop had a conflict for this event but has events throughout the district all the time including the roundtable (he) held last week,” on the opioid crisis. As for the issue of gun safety, Sandler said, “Congressman Bishop is a member of the bipartisan Congressional School Safety Caucus that is working on solutions…is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and is also working to prevent violence in schools. He voted for common-sense legislation such as the STOP School Violence Act which provides training and resources for school safety and the Fix NICS Act to strengthen our background check system.” Sandler also says that The Town Hall Project is associated with the Indivisible movement, whose 8th District chapter has as a stated goal, "to unseat Representative Mike Bishop."

However, Slotkin pointed out that while Bishop has maintained an A/A+ rating from the NRA and received thousands of dollars of support from the organization, last week the Detroit News reported he had recently removed mention of his NRA rating and his stance on guns from his website. The article noted that the changes came, "as Republicans are increasingly worried about casualties in vulnerable U.S. House districts in the fall midterm elections, and as student survivors of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, keep up calls for action on gun reform." It added that, "The “issues” page of Bishop’s website no longer mentions guns or the Second Amendment. Also scrubbed from the page are descriptions of Bishop as a supporter of right to work laws, his opposition to abortion and to amnesty for undocumented immigrants."

Sandler strongly disputed the characterization that anything was "scrubbed," saying the website had merely been updated to reflect the Congressman's legislative accomplishments. "The old website was written when he was a candidate in 2014 and never served in Congress. He is proud of his record and stands by all of these things. But now he has a record in Congress, and the new issues page reflects his accomplishments in Congress and what he is hearing (in) the community. Mike Bishop has not changed positions on these issues. This new website reflects an update for a Congressman who has served for 2 terms and has worked on several pieces of legislation that have been signed into law and are helping the community." Sandler said the fact that The Detroit News had altered its headline on the story from "Bishop scrubs gun positions from campaign site" to "Bishop Drops gun, union stances from campaign site" shows they realized their story was not fairly depicting the wholesale changes to the site."

Regardless, Slotkin said, "The conversation about gun safety is one that Michiganders want to have – and in order to have it, our elected representatives must be available to the public. I look forward to attending the bipartisan Town Hall for Our Lives this Saturday to discuss this issue with 8th district residents across the political spectrum and invite Mike Bishop to do the same.” Also attending Saturday's forum will be Christopher Smith of East Lansing, who is also seeking the 8th District Democratic nomination, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Dr. Jim Hines. It will take place this Saturday from noon until 2pm at Lakelands Golf and Country Club on Chilson Road. (JK)