April 22 | This Week In Government: Big GOP Gubernatorial Field Could Mean Limited Money, No Immediate Trump Bump; Few Shakeups For Congressional Ballot AppearancesApril 22, 2022
- Big GOP Gubernatorial Field Could Mean Limited Money, No Immediate Trump Bump
- Few Shakeups For Congressional Ballot Appearances
- Incumbent Fails to File Along With Several Senate Filing Surprises
- House GOP, Dems Feeling Confident After Filing Day
By the close of the Tuesday filing deadline, a total of 10 candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor had filed what they hoped would be enough valid signatures to grant them access to the August primary ballot.
And if those watching the race are to assume that all of those signatures check out, which may be a tall order for some who submitted the near minimum required, that could mean a messy race toward the summer contest.
It could also mean a limited pool from which the candidates can raise money, few chances to set themselves apart from candidates with at least a modicum of name recognition and the possibility for a bruising showdown between lower-tiered candidates gunning for exposure.
Further, the sheer number of candidates vying for former President Donald Trump’s favor – an endorsement that could mean a seismic shift in momentum for the candidate who secures it – could make the head of the national party play it safe and wait until a real winner emerges.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the slate included former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, steel industry executive and media personality Tudor Dixon, auto dealer Kevin Rinke, self-professed quality guru Perry Johnson, Michigan State Police Captain Mike Brown, chiropractor and anti-COVID lockdown activist Garrett Soldano, fellow grassroots activist Ryan Kelley, pastor Ralph Rebandt, and lesser-known candidates Donna Brandenburg and Michael Markey Jr.
Craig has mostly been viewed as the frontrunner with the most name recognition, rooted in his tenure with the Detroit Police Department but aided by his numerous appearances on conservative media networks and a gust of early momentum.
Dixon appears to be second in that circle, having been name-dropped by Trump personally when he visited Michigan earlier this month for a rally that also boosted the profiles of attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno and secretary of state hopeful Kristina Karamo.
Rinke and Johnson make up the last of that pack as they both have vowed to spend large sums of their own personal fortunes on the race, signaling that they might be the top fundraisers even if the pool dries up from so many in the same pond.
With the earliest start, being one of the first candidates to declare their intentions for governor, Soldano is hoping his influence with grassroots voters will put him ahead, but that’s left to be determined.
Kelley appears to be in the same boat. Talking with reporters outside the Richard H. Austin Building in Lansing on Tuesday, as he was dropping off additional signatures after filing last week, Kelley said one of the main questions he gets on the trail is what separates him from Soldano – signaling again that several of the candidates are running in the same lanes and offer voters few glimpses into how they differ on policy, presentation and approach.
As a State Police captain, Brown can speak to many of the same public safety issues as Craig, and with a wider scope seeing as Brown has a statewide law enforcement perspective. He may also understand what it takes to fund public safety operations at the state level, whereas Craig may not. Still, some elected Republicans who spoke on background to Gongwer News Service over the past month said that Brown has only a scintilla of name recognition compared to the former chief, and that could drag him down.
That said, the money issue appears to be the biggest challenge, as it is often the driver of a successful campaign. Without tens of millions of dollars, a campaign wouldn’t be able to hire the kind of staff necessary to increase appeal with Republican voters and head off Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November. That then would further impair the ability to raise funds, and the cycle would continue until the campaign either gives up or flounders in the primary.
That also begs the question of whether any one of them would be able to raise enough between August and November to contest the admittedly mighty fundraising prowess of Whitmer. During his address to Republicans at their biennial conference on Mackinac Island last summer, former Governor John Engler pointed directly to that might as the GOP’s biggest challenge this fall.
In an interview, Andrea Bitely, senior director of strategy and client services with Truscott Rossman, said much of the same.
“Even if they were to attempt (fundraising against each other right now), they have all split the pie at such a level that I don’t see how any of them can raise the dollars they need to be competitive against Gretchen Whitmer this fall,” Bitely said.
When it was mentioned that Ms. Whitmer would undoubtedly have a boat load of cash to burn through in the latter months of 2022, Bitely said the incumbent’s advantage was likely more akin to a Navy warship.
Following his delivery of signatures on Tuesday afternoon, Johnson was asked what he was willing to invest in terms of his own money into the race.
“Whatever it takes,” Johnson said. When asked if that meant loaning his own campaign $10 million, Johnson gave the same answer.
History shows, however, that personal wealth doesn’t mean a guaranteed fighting chance in a gubernatorial race, especially against seasoned operators like Whitmer.
“We thought in the last primary go-round on the Democratic side that (then candidate and now state Rep. Shri Thanedar) would or was willing to spend his entire fortune to become governor,” Bitely said. “Shri Thanedar is now in the state House and he’s running for Congress. So all the money in the world doesn’t excuse a bad candidate. You need all that money, but you also need the name ID. You need statements and commentary that actually makes sense to the general public. You need to answer questions from the general public, and you need to help people become aware of you in such a way that they can see themselves voting for you.”
Notwithstanding, John Sellek of Harbor Strategic said in an interview that the missteps of President Joe Biden and Whitmer’s own shortcomings have “created a discount,” so to speak, in terms of how much the GOP candidates are going to need.
“Governor Whitmer’s fundraising has been incredibly impressive. It’s essentially historic, and she’s going to need every dollar of it,” he said. “Although, right now, we have the question of what she’ll say with that money. Money is the first step to be able to hold the bullhorn, but what is her message that’s really going to carry the day? We don’t know what that is right now.”
A Trump bump would certainly help in that regard, but the former president has been playing close to the vest his endorsement in the Michigan gubernatorial race. Each of the candidates have said that they would not back out of the race if they didn’t receive Trump’s blessing, but with his command over the party and his influence on their voting behaviors, not getting his endorsement could be the kiss of death for some of these campaigns.
There have been rumors of top-level jockeying including diplomatic missions to the mecca at Mar A Lago on behalf of Michigan’s gubernatorial candidates, all with the aim of swaying Trump to pick a side. But that could be elusive even if he has his favorites, Sellek added.
“Trump has been generous if not reckless with the number of endorsements he’s handed out at the state legislative level. He’s never met these people, or if he has, it’s been for a handshake,” he said. “But as you move up the ladder, he’s been extra cautious with his gubernatorial endorsement, and I don’t think we can automatically assign it to somebody. … Campaigns (across the nation) have been in a rush to hire every ex-Trump staffer and whisperer out there to have people down at Mar A Lago whispering to Trump, saying this is the person you should endorse.”
Dixon’s campaign has been no different, Sellek said, as Trump director of communications Taylor Budowich has been said to be involved with her campaign, as well as other high-level Trump whisperers.
Trump has also shown an affinity for candidates he believes have great political skill, which Dixon appears to have. But she’s also lacked the fundraising punch that might be necessary for the former president to pull the trigger, as his brand is staked to candidates who can win and win big.
Without the money to do so, the former president might look elsewhere.
Johnson has been able to use sleek ads and a potential influx of personal cash to boost himself close to Craig in some recent polling, Sellek said, and that, too, could attract the former president’s eye.
“I think he’s been fairly ruthless in putting that on the table for Trump to see,” he said.
It is likely that some of these candidates might not even make the ballot, as the signature threshold was typically seen as a major barrier to the ballot. Often, lower-tiered candidates aren’t able to even collect at least 15,000, which would winnow the playing field in a more traditional race.
But in the wake of the Trump presidency, several of the GOP gubernatorial race outsiders were able to blow right past it. In 2022, it will likely come down to whether they collected enough valid signatures to determine eligibility for the ballot.
Each needs a minimum of 15,000 valid signatures to do so, but must also satisfy the requirement that 100 come from half the state’s U.S. House districts. Some are close to that lower threshold in the number of signatures they filed alone, and signature vetting could swiftly winnow the total down further.
Michigan election law also prohibits voters from signing petitions for more candidates than the number of people to be elected. If a voter signs a petition for one candidate on one day, and then signs a petition for another on a different day, the Bureau of Elections uses the first date as the valid signature and strikes the latter. If both are signed on the same day, the two or more signatures are invalidated.
The bureau reviews those signatures before making a recommendation on which one to strike to the Board of State Canvassers when it determines whether the petition contains a sufficient number of signatures. That said, residents and candidates can challenge nominating petition sheets or individual signatures and can sometimes identify signatures that the bureau did not additionally identify as valid, said Department of State spokesperson Tracy Wimmer.
That is done by reviewing every signature line submitted by candidates and striking any that it recognizes as errors or are otherwise invalid. The bureau also makes all nominating petitions available to each election candidate or campaign, which can issue individual signature challenges for the bureau to review and disqualify if appropriate, she said.
Those who have been campaigning since the redrawn districts were finalized filed petition signatures by Tuesday’s deadline, with the 7th and 2nd U.S. House Districts seeing the most – yet still very little – movement.
U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Midland) will face off against conservative Tom Norton of Sand Lake who mentioned at one point he would primary against U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids). Moolenaar would then run against his 2018 Democratic opponent Jerry Hilliard.
The 7th U.S. House District also experienced a little shakeup for Republicans. Jake Hagg of Lansing filed to face off against Sen. Tom Barrett of Charlotte. U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Holly was the only Democrat to file.
The 8th U.S. District is also anticipated to be a highly competitive race. Attorney Paul Junge filed petition signatures earlier this month and a person named Candice Miller – but not that Candice Miller – filed days before the deadline. Matthew Seely also filed to run as a Republican.
For the redrawn 3rd U.S. House District, Meijer filed his petition signatures along with his Republican competitors John Gibbs and attorney Gabi Manolache.
Monday, Democrat Hillary Scholten who also ran against Mr. Meijer in the 2020 race submitted the maximum petition signatures.
Former state Rep. Henry Yanez, former Macomb County Judge Carl Marlinga, activist Huwaida Arraf and Warren City councilmember Angela Rogensues filed petitions for the 10th U.S. House District for the Democrats.
John James was not the only Republican to file for the 10th, with conservative Tony Marcinkewciz of Macomb filing as well.
U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Township) and U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) were the only Democrats to file for the 11th U.S. House District. Three Republicans could potentially compete for the nomination – Mark Ambrose of Bloomfield Township, realtor Matthew DenOtter and entrepreneur Gabi Grossbard.
There are three Democrats and three Republicans filed in the 12th U.S. House District. U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Dearborn will run against Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett and Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey. The district is solidly Democratic, and the election will most likely be decided in the August primary.
For the Republicans, Hassan Nehme of Dearborn Heights, James Hooper of Livonia and Steven Elliot of Southfield filed their petition signatures.
The 13th U.S. House District remains packed. As a solidly Democratic seat, the spot will most likely go to the winner in August. Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit), Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), former Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, John Conyers III (son of former U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr.), attorney Michael Griffie and CEO of Focus: HOPE Portia Roberson all filed petition signatures.
Insurance Agency owner Angela McIntosh, former Detroit City councilmember Sharon McPhail and Lorrie Rutledge of Detroit also filed petition signatures as Democrats.
Martell Bivings, business liaison for the city of Detroit, was the only Republican to file.
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) was the only Republican to file for the 4th U.S. House District. He will most likely see Democratic Marine Veteran Joseph Alfonso in the November general election.
The 5th U.S. House District, which is solidly Republican, incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) filed signatures, as well as attorney Bart Goldberg for the Democrats and professor Elizabeth Ferszt and internal medicine physician Sherry O’Donnell filing for the Republicans.
Former Rep. Shanelle Jackson filed for the 6th U.S. House District, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-Dearborn) district. CEO of Ascii Group, LLC Hima Kolanagireddy and Whittney Williams of Canton filed for the Republicans.
U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Bruce Township) will face off in the 9th U.S. House District against attorney Michelle Donovan. Attorney Brian Jaye filed petitions signatures as the only Democrat.
Sen. John Bizon announced Tuesday morning he will not seek reelection in the 18th Senate District, leaving Rep. Thomas Albert the clear frontrunner for the seat.
Tuesday’s announcement by Bizon (R-Battle Creek) answers a question that remained unclear until hours before the 4 p.m. filing deadline to appear on the August primary ballot. He was the only incumbent who had not filed ahead of the deadline day. His decision was first reported by Gongwer News Service.
“I have decided not to run for re-election so I can spend more time with my family and grandchildren. With the failing health of my family members, I need to devote more attention to their care,” Bizon told Gongwer via text at the conclusion of Tuesday’s session. “It was an honor to serve in the House of Representatives as well as in the Senate. I look forward to finishing up this term and I wish my colleagues well in leading our state forward.”
Bizon recently was sentenced to probation after entering a guilty plea to a misdemeanor assault and battery charge for inappropriately touching a female nurse during a medical visit. He put his arm around her, placed his hand on her waist, pulled her closer to him and squeezed her waist with his hand.
The senator’s decision to not run for a final term eliminates what would have been a highly competitive primary leaving Albert (R-Lowell), the House Appropriations Committee chair, the frontrunner. He is facing Ryan Mancinelli of Alto in the Republican primary. Democrats have fielded Kai Degraaf of Ada for the race.
The winner of the Republican primary is expected to win the new 18th Senate District seat, which is strongly GOP turf consisting of western Calhoun County, Barry County and parts of Allegan, Ionia, Kalamazoo and Kent counties.
There were a handful of surprises involving well-known fringe Republican figures as well as a rematch of source in a Senate Democratic primary. One of the most important races to Senate control saw a shakeup on the Republican side as former Rep. Martin Howrylak of Troy got into the 9th District race.
And of course, a Lemmons filed.
As was already known, two Republicans – Sen. Kim LaSata of Niles and Sen. Lana Theis of Brighton – face challengers in the Republican primary backed by former President Donald Trump (see separate story).
For the rest of the seats, there were a smattering of filings ahead of the filing deadline setting up some competitive primaries.
- In the 9th Senate District, former Republican Rep. Michael Webber of Rochester Hills will face former Rep. Martin Howrylak of Troy, who filed on Tuesday, with the winner going on to face Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) in the general election.
- Over in the 11th Senate District, Sen. Michael MacDonald (R-Macomb Township) will face a primary challenge in a late twist from Mellissa Carone, who was recently disqualified from the ballot in the 60th House District race for filing a faulty affidavit and who became infamous for testimony before a legislative committee where she peddled unproven conspiracy theories about the 2020 election results. For the Democrats, Macomb County Commissioner Veronica Klinefelt, Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens and William Collins of Roseville will face each other.
- The 35th Senate District, consisting of the Tri-Cities area of Bay City, Midland and Saginaw, will have a competitive Republican primary. Rep. Annette Glenn of Midland and former Rep. Tim Kelly of Saginaw are expected to headline the race, with Martin Blank of Saginaw and Christian Velasquez of Midland also in the mix. The winner gets Kristen Rivet, a Democrat, in the general election.
- Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield) is facing a primary challenge from Michael Williams of Chesterfield. The winner will face Rep. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) in November.
- The 30th Senate District features a likely highly competitive general election between Sen. Mark Huizenga (R-Walker) and Rep. David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids). Keith Hinkle of Grand Rapids filed Tuesday as a challenger to Huizenga on the Republican side.
- In the 32nd Senate District, another major general election matchup has emerged, this one between Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo) and Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon). Charles Ritchard of Hart filed Tuesday as a Republican primary challenger.
- Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township) will face one of three Republicans who are vying for their party’s nod in the 4th Senate District: James Chapman of Belleville, Michael Frazier of Romulus and Beth Socia of Flat Rock.
- Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Keego Harbor) in the 13th Senate District will also face the winner of a three-way Republican primary: former Rep. Klint Kesto of West Bloomfield, Jason Rhines of Northville Township and Brian Williams of Northville. Kesto is the GOP favorite in the race.
- Democrats will have a competitive primary in the 14th Senate District, with Val Cochran Toops of Michigan Center facing former Jackson City Councilmember Kelsey Heck Wood and Washtenaw County Commission Chair Sue Shink of Ann Arbor. The winner of the primary would face Republican Tim Golding of Jackson in the general election.
- For the 28th Senate District, former House Minority Leader Sam Singh of East Lansing is facing Muhammad Rais of DeWitt in the Democratic primary. The winner will face the Republican primary winner of either Madhu Anderson of East Lansing or Daylen Howard of Owosso in November. Anderson is director of governmental relations for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan and had past roles in the administrations of former governors John Engler and Rick Snyder.
- Republicans have several candidates in the 37th Senate District primary, a district with several northern counties and parts of multiple eastern Upper Peninsula counties. Former Rep. Triston Cole of Mancelona and Rep. John Damoose of Harbor Springs headline a likely bruising primary which also features William Hindle of Charlevoix and Village of Mackinaw City Trustee George Ranville. Barbara Conley of Northport and Jim Schmidt of Central Lake are running for the Democrats. Another candidate who filed late Tuesday as a Democrat was Randy Bishop, also known as “Trucker Randy,” a conservative radio show host. He is a longtime Republican and his reasons for filing as a Democrat were unclear.
- Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) faces two relative unknown challengers in his bid for a second term in the 38th Senate District: Matthew Furyk of Marquette and Kayla Wikstrom of Perkins. The winner would be the favorite in the general election against Democratic candidate John Braamse of Marquette.
- Two incumbent Republicans will be slugging it out in the 16th Senate District ahead of an easy hold for the party in November. Facing off for the Republicans are Rep. Joe Bellino of Monroe and Rep. TC Clements of Temperance. The Democrats have Katybeth Davis of Monroe running.
- This multicounty southwest Michigan district is safely in the camp of Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Township), the expected next Senate GOP caucus leader. He faces Kaleb Hudson of Grand Rapids and Austin Kreutz of Allegan in the primary, after which he will face Kim Gane of Benton Harbor in the fall.
- Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) faced a stiff challenge when he won his seat by a closer-than-expected margin in 2018 under the old district lines, but he should have a smoother landing this cycle with more GOP-friendly boundaries in the 23rd Senate District. Two Democrats filed Tuesday: Una Hepburn of Davisburg and Michael Wiese of Commerce.
- Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Holly) had the possibility of a difficult 24th Senate District primary eliminated recently with the announcement by Sen. Doug Wozniak (R-Shelby Township) that he would seek another term in the House rather than face off with Johnson. This gives her a much easier path in this conservative district against Democratic candidate Theresa Fougnie of Clarkston.
- Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway) has no primary opponent in the 25th Senate District which consists of strongly conservative territory in the Thumb. He will face Bert Van Dyke of St. Clair for the Democrats in the fall.
- For Sen. Kevin Daley (R-Lum), he will face a 26th Senate District primary challenge from Sherry Marden of Davison, who serves as a trustee for Richfield Township. The winner of the primary should have little problem against Democratic candidate Charles Stadler of Vassar in the general election.
- A three-way Republican primary in the 31st Senate District includes the favorite, Sen. Roger Victory of Georgetown Township, facing Steven Thomas of Dryden and Brian VanDussen of Zeeland. The winner should hold this seat comfortably in November against Democratic candidate Kim Nagy of Jenison.
- For Sen. Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes), he avoided a major primary battle in the 33rd Senate District against Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo), who moved into the neighboring 32nd district. This is a safe multi-county GOP hold against Democratic candidate Mark Bignell of Greenville, who was defeated handily by Outman in the 2018 race for the seat. On Tuesday, Andrew Willis of Rockford filed as a Republican challenger.
- Rep. Roger Hauck of Mount Pleasant is the favorite against Lisa Sowers of Sumner in the Republican primary in the 34th Senate District that includes Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta and Osceola counties and parts of Clinton, Lake, Midland and Saginaw counties. The Democrats are running Christine Gerace of Beaverton.
- For the strongly Republican northeast Lower Peninsula 36th Senate District, Rep. Michele Hoitenga of Manton is running unopposed. She faces Democratic former Rep. Joel Sheltrown in the general election in perhaps the most Republican district in the state.
- Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) is the favorite in the 5th Senate District against challenger Velma Overman of Inkster. The district includes Canton Township, Westland and Inkster along with Garden City and part of southwest Livonia. The Republican primary features Emily Bauman of Westland, Jody Rice-White of Livonia and Leonard Scott Jr. of Canton.
- Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) is in good shape in a largely unchanged and trending Democratic 19th Senate District against Republican candidate Tamara Mitchell of Kalamazoo.
- Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) benefits from a largely redrawn 21st Senate District that combines Eaton County with most of Lansing and southern Ingham County. This is a dramatic shift from a formerly Republican district currently held by Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) who opted to run for U.S. House instead with the shift in lines. Republican Nkenge Robertson of Lansing filed Tuesday.
- Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) has a strong chance to hold the 29th Senate District, which features southern Grand Rapids and some southern suburbs including Wyoming and Kentwood. Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming) is running for the seat, giving Republicans a top-tier opponent in the event a big GOP wave puts this seat into play. Another Republican, Andrew Kroll of Kentwood, also filed.
- Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) faces a crowded primary in the 1st Senate District consisting of southwest Detroit, northern Downriver suburbs and Taylor. Former Rep. Frank Liberati of Allen Park is her main challenger in the race which also includes Shellee Brooks of Detroit, Ricardo Moore of Detroit, Brenda Sanders of Detroit and Carl Schwartz of Taylor.
- In the 2nd Senate District, Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) faces no primary opponent. The district includes the Warrendale area of Detroit along with Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.
- Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) in the 3rd Senate District faces multiple primary challengers: former Rep. Alberta Tinsley-Talabi of Detroit, Toinu Reeves of Detroit and John Ulaj of Hamtramck. No Republican candidates were listed as filing as of deadline. Chang routed Tinsley-Talabi in the 2018 Democratic primary.
- The 6th Senate District covers most of Detroit’s west side, all of Redford, most of Livonia, Farmington and most of Farmington Hills. Sen. Betty Alexander of Detroit, who won a stunning upset primary win in 2018, faces a competitive primary again. Rep. Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford Township) is among her challengers but faces the consequences of a recent guilty plea for drunken driving. Also challenging Alexander is Farmington Hills Mayor Vicki Barnett and Darryl Brown of Detroit. The lone Republican candidate is Ken Crider of Livonia.
- In the 7th Senate District, Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) faces two primary challengers: Ryan Foster of Southfield and Vernon Molnar of Pontiac, the latter of which has run as a Republican in past election cycles. Moss should have little trouble in this district consisting of Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Lathrup Village, Pontiac and Southfield. Corinne Khederian of Bloomfield Hills filed Tuesday for the Republicans.
- Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit) and Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) are set to face each other in a massive 8th Senate District primary as parts of their districts were placed together under redistricting. The winner will face Republican Brandon Simpson of Detroit in the general election and should be able to easily hold this seat for the Democrats.
- For Sen. Paul Wojno (D-Warren) in the 10th Senate District faces a primary challenge from Georgia Lemmons, wife of former Rep. LaMar Lemmons III, consisting of part of Detroit’s east side along with eastern Sterling Heights and eastern Warren. For the Republicans there will be a primary between Joe Hunt of Warren and Paul Smith of Sterling Heights. Lemmons challenged a Senate incumbent in 2014 but only pulled 10.5 percent of the vote. The Detroit vs. suburbs dynamic in this district will be closely watched, however.
- The 15th Senate District features Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) who has no primary challenger in this strongly Democratic district including southern Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. Scott Price of Ypsilanti and Wyckham Seelig of Ann Arbor filed for the Republicans on Tuesday.
- Rep. John Cherry of Flint is the frontrunner for the Democrats in the 27th Senate District, a strong Democratic district in Genesee County that features Flint as its anchor. Former Flint City Councilmember Monica Galloway filed Tuesday and should be his toughest opponent, while David Davenport of Flint and Bill Swanson of Flint are also running for the Democrats. For the Republicans, Aaron Gardner of Grand Blanc Township and Burton City Councilmember Christina Hickson are running.
As filing day comes to a close, both House Republicans and House Democrats are expressing confidence that their slate of candidates can bring them a majority in the chamber after November’s elections.
Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township), campaign chair for the House Democrats, told Gongwer News Service the candidates recruited by the caucus create a “very good opportunity,” to take House majority.
“In 2018, the governor won 66 of the seats on that Hickory map, so we could lose eight seats and still be in the majority,” she said, referring to the map adopted by the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. “Our recruited candidates are very, very strong, moderate candidates.”
She lavished praise specifically on candidates in three Downriver seats (27th, 28th and 31st) the southwest lakeshore 38th and Wyoming-based 83rd districts, but later amended that because of how good the party felt about a majority of these races, the issue would then become where Democrats should concentrate, with Witwer remarking: “That decision has not been made yet.”
But one noticeable difference between many of these races is that Democratic candidates populate much of these races singularly or in pairs, while Republicans have between three to four options in the primary. Asked if it were intentional, or if the party had coalesced behind candidates early in these instances, Witwer said no – just that the party was more aligned in vision and priorities than Republicans were.