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Michigan Matters Election Spotlight: Hill Harper on Detroit, politics, Barack Obama

Michigan Matters Election Spotlight: Hill Harper on Detroit, politics, Barack Obama
Michigan Matters Election Spotlight: Hill Harper on Detroit, politics, Barack Obama 24:21

(CBS DETROIT) - Actor and best-selling author Hill Harper, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Michigan, talked about the Motor City, politics, and what Barack Obama told him about running for elected office. 

He appears on CBS Detroit's Michigan Matters this Sunday and talks about those things and being a first-time candidate. 

"Politics is hard, but then so is acting," Harper answered when asked what his pal, former President Barack Obama, a classmate as the two lawyers attended Harvard Law School at the same time, had to say about his running for public office. 

Hill Haper and Michigan Matters host and senior producer Carol Cain  Tim Lawlis/CBS Detroit

The race to replace outgoing Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow is crowded on both sides of the aisle. Besides Harper, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, former Rep. Leslie Love and businessman Nasser Beydoun are also on that side of the aisle. On the GOP side: former Rep. Mike Rogers, former Rep. Peter Meijer, former police chief James Craig and businessman Sandy Pensler. 

Hill has what could best be described as an eclectic resume. He's an acclaimed actor who starred in "The Good Doctor" and "CSI: New York."  Hill left "The Good Doctor " after last season to focus on running for Senate. He's also written six books along the way. 

Hill moved to Detroit in 2016 after adopting his son, Pierce, now 8, and said being in the region "is a great place to raise a family." 

He came to Detroit for a friend's wedding some years ago and fell in love with the area. He also has friends in Grand Rapids. Hill purchased a home in Detroit and a nearby coffee shop (Roasting Plant Coffee), as coffee shops are "the heart of a community." 

"Our Democracy is broken," he said when asked what inspired him to run. "Good people can't keep sitting on the sidelines and watch what's happening. Our system is so broken. Most Americans don't know it. But they feel it. They know something is wrong." 

He's been traveling the state campaigning. Hill's also a union card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild and said if elected, he'd bring a greater focus on labor and middle-class issues. 

"2023 was a great year for labor," he said. "Labor has to be bellwether around the disparity of billionaires who own so much of our nation's wealth." 

Hill talked about hoping to bring back more resources from Washington to the state if successful in his bid.  

Ilitch, Avery and Hackel weigh in 

Businesswoman Denise Ilitch, Consultant Susy Avery and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel appeared on the Michigan Matters roundtable and talked about the presidential race following the results of Iowa's GOP caucuses, where Donald Trump won a resounding victory. 

New Hampshire's GOP primary is taking place Tuesday when Trump, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis will again face off. DeSantis finished second in Iowa, with Haley not far behind.

Avery, former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, talked about the woes of her party's current leadership. 

Tim Lawlis/CBS Detroit

Hackel highlighted the boost the state and region will get after getting a $600 million plane refueling project for fighter jets at Selfridge in Macomb County was announced. 

Ilitch, a regent at the University of Michigan, talked about their vote this week as they issued a new statement on free speech at the university, a vote some have called "historic." 

Ilitch, whose family owns the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, also talked about the Detroit Lions game last weekend she attended as being the loudest she has ever heard. 

She also was in attendance at UM's win over Alabama in Houston for the national championship. 

Watch Michigan Matters at its new time: 5:30 a.m. Sundays on CBS Detroit, noon Sundays on Detroit 50 WKBD, and also streaming 8 p.m. weeknights on CBS Detroit's website, CBS Detroit's app and Pluto TV.         

(Carol Cain is the 13-time Emmy-winning senior producer and host of Michigan Matters)

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