It’s Official: Schuette vs. Whitmer
As expected, Attorney General Bill Schuette and former Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer easily won their respective primary battles. In fact, both won outright majorities in crowded contests.
The ease of the Whitmer primary victory was a bit surprising to some as progressive candidate Dr. Abdul El-Sayad appeared to be gaining momentum in the closing weeks of the campaign. That energy did not produce votes; however, as Whitmer easily won.
In the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, John James – a young, energetic, Iraqi War Veteran and businessman from Southeast Michigan defeated businessman Sandy Pensler. James will take on U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) who is seeking another 6-year term in the United States Senate and will, as always, be very difficult to beat.
United States House of Representatives
In Michigan’s 9th Congressional District, Andy Levin – the son of the retiring Congressman and former Governor Jennifer Granholm appointee - defeated former Rep. Ellen Lipton (D-Huntington Woods). In this heavily Democratic district, Mr. Levin is almost certain to win in November.
Michigan’s 13th Congressional District is currently vacant after the resignation of former Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit). Former State Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) appears to have won a crowded primary battle. Since there is no Republican in this solidly Democratic seat Tlaib would win the November election. Potential election irregularities in Wayne County have given pause to final results.
Congressman David Trott (R-Birmingham) of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District is also not seeking re-election; however, unlike the 9th and 13th described above, the 11th Congressional District will not be decided in the Primary Election. While the seat has been in Republican control for quite some time, the shifting demographics of Oakland County and the national political momentum have put this race squarely on the Democrat’s top tier of potential victories. On the Democratic side, Haley Stevens, a digital manufacturing executive and former Hillary Clinton campaign official defeated Rep. Tim Gremiel and Suneel Gupta in a tough primary battle. On the Republican side, Lena Epstein – the businesswoman who had originally begun campaigning to take on Senator Stabenow defeated former Congressman Kerry Bentivolio (R-Milford), State Senator Mike Kowall (R-White Lake), State Representative Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Township), and former State Representative Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski.
In looking to the State Senate, where Republican have been in control for more than 30 years and still hold a huge majority (27-10), Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the motivation and messaging that has led to Democratic victories in legislative seats throughout the country during recent months and cut into the Republican’s stronghold in November. There were a few key races that set the stage for the November elections, and one stunning upset of an incumbent.
Perhaps the most stunning result of the evening was the upset of Senator David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) in the 5th Senate District by little-known challenger Betty Jean Alexander of Detroit. Alexander has signed a waiver not to raise or spend more than $1,000 on the race. She has no campaign website or social media presence making this race even more intriguing.
The 24th Senate District – where current State Representative Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) defeated State Representative Brett Roberts (R-Eaton Twp.) and will now face longtime Lansing public relations executive and Democrat Kelly Rossman-McKinney to replace the term-limited Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge).
The 31st Senate District – State Representative Kevin Daley (R – Lum) defeated State Representative Gary Glenn (R-Auburn) and will now focus on Democratic Bay County Clerk Cindy Luczak. Senator Mike Green (R-Mayville) is term-limited.
The 34th Senate District – former State Representative Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo) defeated State Representative Holly Hughes (R-White River Twp.) for the chance to succeed term-limited Senator Goeff Hansen (R-Hart); however, will have to defeat Poppy Hernandez who unexpectedly defeated former State Representative Collene LaMonte (D-Montague) in the Democratic primary.
The 38th Senate District – where current State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) is trying to put the seat back into Democratic hands will see former State Representative Ed McBroom (R-Norway). In the November election. Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) is term-limited.
While not in play in November, there were spirited democratic primaries in several Detroit area Senate seats. In the 1st Senate District, Rep. Stephanie Chang defeated Rep. Bettie Cook Scott and former Representative Alberta Tinsely Talabi. In the 2nd District Adam Hollier defeated a crowded list of challengers including the presumed favorite former Representative Brian Banks who finished third in the race. In the 3rd District, Rep. Sylvia Santana defeated Wayne County Commissioner Gary Woronchak 41% to 38%. In the 4th District primary, Marshall Bullock, former staffer to Mayor Duggan defeated Rep. Fred Durhal 43% to 37%. All four candidates should easily win their elections in November.
State House of Representatives
With 110 seats, the list is simply too long to analyze each seat. Republicans currently hold what would in most years be a comfortable 63-46 majority (one vacancy in a strong Democratic seat); however, Democratic campaign leadership is optimistic that the strong victories in other state legislatures and U.S. Congressional races in recent months will translate in Michigan to flipping House control.
Last night brought two unexpected upsets within the House Democratic rank and file as Rep. Patrick Green (D – Warren) was unseated by elementary school teacher Lori Stone also of Warren. In another surprise, Rep. William Sowerby (D – Clinton Township) was defeated by Michelle Robertson.
On the Republican side, Matt Hall, a longtime Republican grassroots activist defeated Rep. Dave Maturen in the 63rd House district. Hall had 57% of the vote to Maturen’s 37%.
Two incumbents won in very close races. On the Republican side, Rep. Kathy Crawford (R – Novi) was able to overcome challenger Chase Turner winning with 53% of the vote. On the Democratic side, Rep. Jewell Jones defeated Garden City Mayor Randy Walker. Mr. Jones is the youngest person ever elected to the Legislature and survived his first real electoral test in his victory over Mr. Walker. Many insiders believed Jones was at risk of losing his seat in the days leading up to the election.