GOP’s Liz Cheney endorsing Michigan Democrat Slotkin in a first

Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheneyhas endorsed Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin and will campaign with her in Lansing next week as Slotkin faces a tough challenge from GOP state Sen. Tom Barrett in her bid for a third term.

It's the first time that Cheney, a prominent critic of former President Donald Trump,has formally endorsed a Democrat for office, according to Slotkin's campaign.

Cheney, who lost her GOP primary in Wyoming over the summer, serves on the House Armed Services Committee with Slotkin and both previously worked for the U.S. Department of State before going into politics. Slotkin also is a former CIA analyst and a top Pentagon official in the administration of President Barack Obama.

"I have come to know Elissa as a good and honorable public servant who works hard for the people she represents, wants what's best for the country, and is in this for the right reasons," Cheney said in a statement.

“While Elissa and I have our policy disagreements, at a time when our nation is facing threats at home and abroad, we need serious, responsible, substantive members like Elissa in Congress. I encourage all voters in the 7th district — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — to support her in this election.”

Barrett, an Iraq veteran, dismissed Cheney's support of Slotkin in a Thursday statement, calling the pair "establishment war hawks."

"My entire adult life has been committed to service in the Army, and sadly I’ve lost too many friends and battle buddies as part of America’s endless wars," said Barrett, who served 22 years in the Army. "Now establishment war hawks like Liz Cheney and Elissa Slotkin are standing together because I oppose their senseless thirst for more foreign entanglements."

Barrett also took a veiled shot at Cheney's father, Dick Cheney, the former two-term Republican vice president who pushed for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 under then-President George W. Bush.

"Congresswoman Slotkin says she would engage with China to fight a war with American troops in Asia. It’s no surprise the Cheney family would join her," Barrett said. "Slotkin can keep Cheney while I work to keep America out of war."

Barrett appeared to be referring to Slotkin saying she would be willing to commit U.S. troops to Taiwan's defense if China were to invade it. 

Slotkin and Barrett's is rated a tossup in the 7th District, which covers the greater Lansing area, Livingston County and corners of both Oakland and Genesee counties. Both parties consider the contest a must-win to secure the House majority in the Nov. 8 midterm election.

Slotkin's campaign said Cheney is set to appear with Slotkin in the Lansing area Tuesday for an “Evening for Patriotism and Bipartisanship."

Cheney is the former chair of the House Republican Conference who was pushed out over her refusal to stop criticizing Trump's role in inciting the Jan. 6, 2001, attack on the U.S. Capitol. She is also vice chair of the House committee investigating the insurrection, which this month issued a subpoena for Trump to testify. Since losing her primary, Cheney has said she is considering a 2024 presidential run.

Slotkin in a statement said Cheney has demonstrated "tremendous leadership" over the last two years, saying her voice has been "critical" as the nation's democracy has been challenged.

"I’m grateful for her support in this race and I’m proud of the work we’ve done together to strengthen our national security and America’s role in the world," Slotkin said. "We all know that our country is going through a difficult moment right now. But throughout our history, two things have helped us weather times like these: engaged citizens and principled leaders, from both sides of the aisle."

It's not the first time Slotkin has picked up GOP support. A former defense official, Slotkin was endorsed in 2018 by former Obama Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; the first-ever national intelligence director, John Negroponte; and Stephen Hadley, national security adviser under President George W. Bush. She was also backed by Lt. Gen. Doug Lute, former deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan and the former U.S. permanent representative to NATO, who said he hired Slotkin to work for Bush's White House in 2007.

Barrett, who was recruited by national Republicans for the race, has received the endorsements of current House GOP leadership including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York. Scalise was in Michigan on Tuesday for a Barrett fundraiser in Bloomfield Hills that drew in an estimated $50,000, according to the campaign.

Barrett has not been endorsed by Trump but has gotten support from former Vice President Mike Pence, who attended a fundraiser for Barrett earlier this year and whose advocacy group is spending in the race.

Slotkin and Barrett were both asked about Cheney during a debate on WLNS-TV (Channel 6) this month. Moderator Tim Skubick pressed Barrett about Cheney's denunciation of Trump, asking him if she was wrong.

"Look, I'm not Donald Trump, and I'm not looking to be the next Donald Trump. People can have their own opinions about Donald Trump. I voted for President Trump. I'm not one to deny that I did," Barrett said. "But at the end of the day, people are going to make their own determination about that. There are things I would do differently than Mr. Trump, and things that I really respected that he did in office, as well."

Slotkin at the debate described Cheney as a friend, and that while they disagree on many issues, they agree on "preserving democracy."

"Separate from the people of Wyoming, I think the open question is, do we believe that she was a patriot for speaking out against an attempt to obscure the results of the 2020 election or is she a traitor? Right?" Slotkin said. "That's really the dichotomy that has been put out there in the press."

She went on to explain how, after the Jan. 6 attack, members of Congress emerged from locked-down offices to vote on whether to certify the results of the 2020 election, challenging Barrett to say how he would have voted.

Barrett said he would have voted to certify after a debate on the House floor on concerns about the election in disputed states like Pennsylvania and Arizona.

"I would have certified after the debate took place. I think the remedy for what transpired was in the courts, and the courts decided months afterward. Barring that decision, I think it was the obligation to certify," Barrett said.

"But I still have legitimate concerns about how that (election) took place. That's why I've been a leader on trying to make sure that that doesn't happen in the future," he added, noting his bill to require photo identification to vote.

A poll commissioned by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (channel 4) last week found Slotkin leading Barrett by 6 percentage points. The survey of 400 likely general election voters, conducted Oct. 18-20, found that 47% of respondents plan to vote for Slotkin and 41% for Barrett. About 8% remain undecided and 3.6% support Libertarian Party candidate Leah Dailey. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

The race is considered among the most competitive and expensive U.S. House contests in the country, with combined spending around $27 million, according to tracking by AdImpact.