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Democrats in Michigan targeting five GOP seats in 2018

Democrats in Michigan targeting five GOP seats in 2018 (File image)

LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Even though the GOP health care plan is collapsing on Capitol Hill, Democrats are still planning to use it against Republicans in the 2018 election.

On Tuesday, another Democratic candidate jumped into the race against Republican U.S. Rep. Fred Upton.

Democrats in Washington, D.C. say Republicans like Upton are more vulnerable than they've ever been, because of the GOP health care plan.

"I want to hold Congressman Fred Upton responsible for his vote on the Republican health care bill, and that's one of the main reasons that I am in this race," said new congressional candidate Matt Longjohn, a physician and public health expert from Portage.

Longjohn, who has served as the national health officer for the YMCA, said he decided to run after watching Upton leave the Oval Office after making a deal with the president on the GOP healthcare plan.

"Around the country, folks know that Congressman Fred Upton is as responsible for the Republican health care bill efforts as anyone in Congress. This is his bill," Longjohn said.

Several other Democrats are challenging Upton, including Paul Clements, who ran unsuccessful campaigns against Upton in 2014 and 2016.

Democrats also are targeting four other Republican congressmen in Michigan, including Jack Bergman, Tim Walberg, and Dave Trott.

Just last week, Democrat Elissa Slotkin announced her campaign against Mike Bishop. But Michigan State University political scientist Matt Grossman says it will be tough for Democrats to win all of those Republican seats in Michigan.

"It would have to be a pretty strong Democratic year to get that high on the target list," he said.

Scott Hagerstrom ran President Donald Trump's campaign in Michigan last year. He says Upton and other Republicans are safe.

"Unfortunately, Democrats ... they're way off base. They are bankrupt of ideas," Hagerstrom said.

But as a public health leader, Longjohn says Upton is vulnerable because he says health care coverage is at risk.

"His vote puts this district on the map for national fundraising and organizing, and I think that with my national network I'll be able to bring the resources to this district," Longjohn said.

Democrats need to regain 24 seats to regain the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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