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Jul 2010
01
July 01, 2010

From The Capitol

A Quarterly Report for the Clients of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP by its Government Affairs Practice Group July 2010

WHAT YOU'LL FIND INSIDE:

BUDGET OVERVIEW
DCH BUDGET
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
GOVERNOR'S PRIMARY RACE
STATE SENATE PRIMARY RACES
STATE HOUSE PRIMARY RACES
CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARY RACES

A BUDGET WITH SMOKE AND MIRRORS?

The Michigan Legislature adjourned after completing work on one of the larger budgets (K-12) for FY 2010 - 2011 which begins October 1. Still left to do is the filling in of a $300 million gap for this year and how to address what looks like a $560 million shortfall for FY 2010 – 2011 due to Congress failing to enact the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentages (FMAP). Although the House and Senate have scheduled session days on July 21 and 28, some believe those sessions will be canceled because the rest of FY 2010 – 2011 won't be completed until at least late August at the earliest. There is even the possibility of another round of brinkmanship through the last two weeks of September as the October 1 budget deadline approaches.

DCH BUDGET

Right now, it looks as if the prospects of Congress enacting FMAP before the November election are slim at best. FMAP is an omnibus appropriation bill which if enacted would mean $500 million to Michigan. The Governor, the House and the Senate had all "assumed" that the FMAP money would be there when calculating their versions of the state budget. If Congress does not pass FMAP, Medicaid reimbursement rates, already the subject of cuts the last two fiscal years, will most assuredly be cut again, threatening provider networks.

So, this whole process leaves the Legislature with two choices. It can either assume FMAP will get enacted and then if it doesn't, drop the $500 million shortfall on the new Governor, or assume Congress will not enact FMAP and then if it does, come back and pass a $500 million supplemental appropriation.

Stay tuned.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Gross Receipts Relief:

By far, the issue that keeps lobbyists busy in Lansing is trying to obtain a carve out for their clients from the "gross receipts" tax. This has met with very little success.

However, on July 1, HB 5295 was reported from the Senate Finance Committee to the full Senate. The bill gives federally chartered farm credit institutions needed relief from the onerous "gross receipts" portion of the Michigan Business Tax (MBT). The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 106-0, is now teed up for final passage, hopefully this summer.

Speaking of "gross receipts," SB 1222 which would provide a measure of tax relief for the warehouse and logistics industry has passed the Senate and is now with the House Commerce Committee. Payments made by warehouse and logistics taxpayers to subcontractor would be excluded from "gross receipts" and thus, would not be taxable. An identical bill was introduced in the House and did not get out of the House Tax Policy Committee.

And, speaking of "gross receipts," last week HB 5548 passed the House and then was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. The bill provides an exclusion from "gross receipts" for receipts derived from the administration of cancer chemotherapy drugs.

And, speaking of "gross receipts," last week SB 962 passed the House and was returned to the Senate. The bill excludes receipts for health care management consulting services from the definition of "gross receipts." Interestingly, there is no definition for the term "health care management consulting services," so we will see how many entities try to take advantage of this legislation once it becomes law and see how Treasury tries to stop them.

And finally, speaking of "gross receipts," SB 1303 and HB 6262 would exclude the cost of vaccines and certain pharmaceuticals administered by physicians from the definition of "gross receipts." The bill is with the Senate Finance Committee.

These and other bills merely remind us of how inequitable the "gross receipts" tax has been and for the need to replace it with something else. Meantime, the issue keeps the Lansing lobby corps knocking on legislators' doors.

Healthcare Reform:

A Senate version of state healthcare reform keeps rolling on and is now on the Senate floor. SB 1242 would create the 17 member MI Health Board which would make recommendations to the Legislature on implementation of federal healthcare reform. The legislation is meant as an answer to the Governor's recent Executive Order doing essentially the same thing. Don't look for quick passage in the Republican Senate, though, as healthcare, or health insurance reform, is not a hallmark of Republican Party politics these days.

SB 1243 would amend the enabling Act of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBS/M) to allow it for the first time to consider smoking habits and body mass index as factors in rate making. Moreover, the bill would move BCBS/M from community rating a full 3 years ahead of what the federal legislation calls for.

We are watching these bills very closely knowing full well they could be used as vehicles for mischief, especially during lame duck session.

Med-Mal:

Before leaving for the mid-summer break, the House Judiciary Committee reported HB 5745 to the full House. According to the bill, the limits on noneconomic losses in medical malpractice claims would not apply if the trier of fact determined by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant falsified a patient's records describing the patient's care of treatment. This bill could tip a delicately achieved balance in tort law. We will be urging the Republican Senate to hold firm on this when the bill passes the House, which we expect it will do.

Curbing Medicaid Fraud and Abuse:

Look for the Senate to soon consider HB 5735 which would grant access to DCH's electronic system for monitoring Schedule 2, 3, 4 and 5 controlled substances to the pharmacy director of a Medicaid health plan.

Housing and Foreclosure:

House and Senate Banking Committees continue to look at what changes, if any, are needed to be made to Public Acts 29, 30 and 31 of 2009, the 90 day mortgage foreclosure counseling legislation. We will work to make sure the sunset is not extended beyond July of next year.

New CT Rules:

Changes are being proposed to the "proposed" revisions of the CT Rules. the most notable is an amendment by the Economic Alliance which requires a report of CT "medical events." Look for a second public hearing on these proposed changes by mid to late August.

Alert to all businesses! There is a movement afoot to drastically alter the current doctrine in tort law known as "open and obvious." That is, if a dangerous condition exists on the property of another and if that dangerous condition is "open and obvious" to a reasonable person, the business does not have a "duty" to warn. HB 5744 would change all that and would allow the trier of fact to consider whether a condition was open and obvious only in assessing the degree of comparative fault. The issue could not be considered with respect to any other issue of law or fact, including duty. This bill remains in the House Judiciary Committee but we are on high alert for this one.

Statute of Limitations:

SB 882 which would lighten the limitation period for claims against architects, professional engineers, professional surveyors and contractors received approval from the House Judiciary Committee and is now on the floor of the house.

The effort by plaintiff's attorneys and House Democrats to repeal the so-called FDA defense for defendants in pharmaceutical product liability continues to be thwarted. HB 4317 and companion bills remain in Senate Committee.

Labor:

Efforts to prohibit use of credit history for employment background checks have been placed in check.

The same is true of efforts to prohibit employment discrimination based upon physical attributes.

Pharmaceuticals:

Looks as if efforts to establish an unused prescription drug repository program are on hold for now.

As is the case with the licensing of pharmacy benefit managers.

Transportation:

HB 4961 authorizing the public-private partnership of funding infrastructure projects has passed the House and received four hearings in the Senate. The big controversy is using this method of funding for the construction of a new bridge spanning the Detroit River.

The debate continues to rage as to how best to meet the federal match for federal transportation funds. Increasing taxes? Increasing registration fees? Tolls?

Taxation – Besides Gross Receipts:

A package of "film credit" transparency bills is wending its way through the legislature. The Senate bills have been substituted by the House and are awaiting passage on the House Floor.

Tax credit (well publicized) legislation has been given for battery cell manufacturers to invest in Michigan to boost a budding clean energy industry for car manufacturers. But what about other auto industry initiatives like diesel and other alternative fuels? Stay tuned.

Environment and Economic Development:

Warner attorney/lobbyists are making sure House legislation mandating a ban on products containing mercury such as switches and medical equipment remains in Senate Committee until any rewrite that is made is acceptable to the industry.

Warner attorney/lobbyists are actively engaged in a Part 201 rewrite and economic development through Brownfield redevelopment.

POLITICAL ANALYSIS AND FORECAST

Tis the Season for Politics:

With two weeks to go before the Primary Election, there is no clear front runner for Governor in either major political party. As we come down the homestretch, the race for the Republican nomination is still up for grabs among four of the five contenders.

On the Democratic Party side, House Speaker Andy Dillon leads Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero by ten points according to the latest EPIC/MRA poll, but that same poll reveals there are nearly 50% of the voters who are still undecided.

GOVERNOR'S RACE

Republicans:

Mike Bouchard: Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard consistently polls fourth among GOP contenders. This is so in spite of what is a pretty strong resume to back his candidacy. Among the leading Republican candidates only Bouchard served in the Michigan legislature, achieving the rank of Majority Floor Leader in the 90's. However, Bouchard's problem has been in raising the funds necessary to go to the airwaves. In spite of running a near stealth-like campaign so far, he consistently polls between 15-20%, which is not far behind the leaders. If he can win the counties of southeast Michigan by taking 40% or more, and if he runs a consistent third in the out-state counties, you may have your upset winner in a squeaker. We see the Oakland County Sheriff getting approximately 20% of the Primary vote.

Mike Cox: Buoyed by back to back endorsements from the State Chamber and Michigan Right to Life, the Attorney General's campaign is beginning to gather steam and is applying much of its ample resources toward a last ditch media blitz. The Attorney General has consistently polled second in preference among GOP primary voters to Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Now, with these two key endorsements in his pocket, he must be considered the favorite, albeit a slight one, for the nomination at this stage of the campaign. We see the Attorney General obtaining approximately 25-30% of the Primary vote.

Tom George: The term limited Kalamazoo Senator who is also a medical doctor has made controlling the cost of healthcare the centerpiece of his campaign. Intelligent and thoughtful, his campaign has nonetheless failed to catch fire due to lack of money and name recognition. We see the Kalamazoo Senator garnering approximately 3% of the GOP Primary vote.

Pete Hoekstra: The Congressman from Michigan's 2nd Congressional District has led in the polling throughout most of the race. However, he now seems to be slowly slipping in popularity to Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder. The issue here is money and Hoekstra doesn't have much of it, which is astounding considering he's a sitting member of Congress. What he does have in his favor is he is the only candidate (other than George) from West Michigan and that area of the state, which is heavily Republican, has hotly contested primaries for two Congressional seats. This has to work to Hoekstra's advantage. But is it enough? We see the Congressman in the neighborhood of 20-25% of the GOP primary vote.

Rick Snyder: The founder of Gateway Computers, Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder will have plenty of funds in the last 3 weeks of the campaign. His campaign has seemed to catch fire with younger Republicans and those who oppose "career politicians." The Snyder campaign was also buoyed by an endorsement from the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce (shared with Bouchard). At this stage, we see Snyder obtaining approximately 25-30% of the vote.

Summary:

As of this date, we believe the race for the Republican nomination is boiling down to Cox and Snyder with Hoekstra not far behind and still close enough to win.

Democrats:

Virg Bernero: Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, fresh off a reelection win last year, decided to enter the race as the "mainstream" Democratic candidate for Governor. A former legislator, Bernero knows Lansing well and has also made a name for himself, being pro-choice, defending General Motors and being labeled "the angry mayor" due to his interviews on national cable television blasting U.S. trade policy. Bernero has received the endorsement of big labor, most notably the Michigan Education Association (MEA), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the State AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers (UAW). Normally these endorsements would put the recipient in the driver's seat for the Democratic Party nomination. Not so this time. The problem is, while big labor has the ground troops for a "Get Out The Vote" (GOTV) drive on election day, it does not (with the exception of the MEA) have the funds necessary to contribute to a media blitz. That is one main reason why Bernero continues to trail in the polls by as much as 10%. Unless organized labor amasses a strong GOTV to energize party faithful to the polls, look for Lansing's First Citizen to come in second with about 46% of the vote.

Andy Dillon: The Democratic Speaker of the House succeeded in alienating organized labor, and in particular the MEA, by introducing reform legislation requiring teachers to enter a state healthcare pool and to contribute more toward their benefits. This, the Speaker said, would save state and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars. He was immediately viewed as a betrayer of organized labor and not a true Democrat.

In any event, Dillon has forged a "new Democratic Coalition," one consisting of smaller labor organizations such as the building trades, small business entrepreneurs and more fiscally conservative Democrats. Still, with his pro-life stand Dillon will alienate many who vote for and call themselves Democrats for this issue is just as important to many Democrats as it is to many Republicans. In fact, for many on both sides, it is the reason they either oppose or endorse a candidate. Even though Dillon is bucking the mainstream of his Party on this issue, we still believe the economy overrides this and other social issues and someone who is perceived as understanding the "new economy" will prevail. As of this date, we see Dillon eking out a victory with approximately 49% of the vote.

STATE SENATE

Republicans have held this Chamber for a generation (1984) and currently enjoy a 22-16 majority. Of the 38 Senate seats to be decided this year, at least 29 of those seats will be filled with new faces due to term limits. Most of those 29 "open" seats are now held by Republicans.

At the start of 2010, Democrats were hopeful of gaining the majority for the first time since early in Governor Blanchard's first term. However, due to some late withdrawals or decisions of candidates to pursue other races, the Democrats may be fortunate to hold on to the 16 seats they have now.

The key primary races to watch are the following:

Democrats:

Interesting races within the City of Detroit mark the Primary, with the winner most assuredly being elected in November because of the partisan composition of the districts.

In the 1st District, currently represented by term limited Sen. Hansen Clarke, the race has several familiar names including former State Rep. Lamar Lemmons III, Mary Waters, a former state representative who is currently under indictment in a federal bribery case, current State Rep. Coleman Young Jr., who is the son of the former Mayor of Detroit Coleman A. Young, and Lisa Muszkowski, a former chief of staff to former House Majority Floor Leader Steve Tobocman. The race is a dogfight with each candidate having strengths and weaknesses. The favorites right now have to be Young and Lemmons based upon high name recognition.

The 2nd District is very diverse, taking in Highland Park, much of East Detroit and the "old money" of the "Pointes." The race is coming down to 2 incumbent state representatives, Bert Johnson and Bettie Cook Scott. At this point, this race is too close to favor one over the other.

In the 3rd Senatorial District which includes Midtown Detroit and Dearborn, the favorite as of this date is former state representative Morris Hood. Nevertheless, he faces two strong opponents in Mohamed Okdie, a social worker for the Detroit Public Schools and attorney William Robinson. Nevertheless, we see Hood as the winner.

In the 4th District the race comes down to current chair of the House Appropriations Committee Rep. George Cushingberry and former state representative Virgil Smith, Jr. Both men have strong name identification but a slight edge has to go to Cushingberry because he has just been around longer.

The 9th Senatorial District includes Eastpointe, Fraser, St. Clair Shores and Warren. The battle for the Democratic nomination in this heavily Democratic districts pits two former state representatives against one another. Frank Accavitti of Eastpointe is currently a Macomb County Commissioner and had previously served 3 terms in the House of Representatives. Steve Bieda of Warren also served 3 terms in the House and has received endorsements from several local public officials. Right now, it appears that Bieda has to be considered the favorite.

The 10th Senatorial District which many consider to be safely in the Democratic column may be up for grabs this year due to the entry into the race of popular Sterling Heights Representative Tory Rocca. Nevertheless, the Democratic primary pits two very prominent Macomb County citizens against one another. Carl Marlinga was the long time Macomb County prosecutor who waged an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2002. Paul Gieleghem is the chairman of the Macomb County Commission and a former state representative. While Marlinga's name identification may be stronger than Gielegham's, this race is at this point too close to call.

The 14th District has over a 70% Democratic base. The district includes Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Oak Park and Southfield. The race looks as if it is between incumbent State Representative Vincent Gregory and four term Oakland County Commissioner David Coulter. This one is at this point too close to call.

Michigan's 18th Senatorial District encompasses much of Washtenaw County and the City of Ann Arbor, which is appropriate because two incumbent state representatives square
off – one from out county and one from the City of Ann Arbor. State Representative and Speaker Pro Tempore Pam Byrnes from Chelsea is running against two term incumbent Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor. Picking a winner will be tough with organized labor and the more liberal elements of the Party backing Warren, while suburban areas are where Byrnes finds her strength. Right now, too close to call.

The 29th Senatorial District includes the Cities of Grand Rapids and Kentwood along with Cascade and Lowell Townships. The seat is currently held by a Republican, but this is one of the few Senate seats that could flip to the Democrat's side this year. The race pits second term incumbent State Representative Robert Dean of Grand Rapids against businessman and former city Commissioner David LaGrand, also of Grand Rapids. La Grand ran a strong race against the incumbent Republican Senator in 2006. Based upon a stronger name identification and the fact he has run before gives the edge to La Grand.

Republicans:

At one time, the 7th Senatorial District looked to be one that was set to flip into the Democratic column. That all changed when State Rep. Marc Corriveau (D-Northville) withdrew from the race. The district includes Canton, Brownstown, Northville and Plymouth Township and the Cities of Belleville, Gibralter, Northville and Plymouth. There are four Republicans vying for the nod to face Democrat Kathleen Law in the general election. They are former state representative Deborah Whyman of Canton, Abe Munfakh, a retired engineer and Plymouth Township Trustee Patrick Colbeck a management consultant from Canton and Dan Osterman of Canton. While Munfakh has achieved the endorsement of Attorney General Mike Cox, the current favorite for the nomination is Whyman.

The 11th Senate District includes northern Macomb County and is solidly Republican. The 3 leading contenders for the nomination, and hence the election, are all current or former state representatives. They are Kim Meltzer of Macomb, a current state representative, Jack Brandenburg, a former businessman from Harrison Township and Leon Drolett, a former state representative and director of the Michigan Taxpayer Alliance. This one is a close call, but at least as of now we give a slight edge to Meltzer as she currently holds public office.

In the 12th Senatorial District the race is to succeed current Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop. The district is in Northeast Oakland County and includes Auburn Hills, Keego Harbor, Pontiac, Rochester, Rochester Hills and Clarkston. A crowded Republican field includes former State Representative John Garfield of Rochester Hills, current State Representative Jim Marleau of Lake Orion, Copper Rizzo of Rochester, a former aide to the Senate Majority Leader, Kim Russell, a Rochester City Councilwoman and business owner, and Gene Taliercio of Rochester Hills, also a business owner. A slight edge has to be given to Marleau because he is a sitting state representative and all the other candidates are from the Rochester area and will split the vote.

The heavily Republican 15th District encompasses Western and Northwestern Oakland County. A crowded field of Republican candidates includes former state representative Mike Kowall of White Lake who has to be considered the odds on favorite. Other candidates include Kerry Bentivolio, a teacher from Milford, John Mohyi, West Bloomfield band manager, Alan Stephens, a Union Lake real estate broker and builder, Steven Valentine, a real estate consultant from Novi and Paul Graves of Milford, who is running a nominal campaign.

The 20th Senatorial District encompasses all of Kalamazoo County and heads west into two townships in Van Buren County. Three GOP candidates are vying for the nomination to take on the probable Democratic nominee State Representative Robert Jones and replace Republican term limited Senator Tom George. The district has shown tendencies to vote for the Democrat at the top of the ticket, Governor Granholm in 2006 and President Obama in 2008. Still, in what looks to be a strong Republican year, the GOP nominee stands a better than 50-50 chance at retaining the seat for the Party. Term limited State Rep. Tonya Schuitmaker from Lawton (Van Buren County) doesn't have much of the district's base, but she was recently buoyed by an endorsement from the Michigan Chamber. Former three term state representative Lorence Wenke of Galesburg is a well known businessman who has the resources to wage an aggressive campaign. Freshman State Representative Larry DeShazor of Portage won a hotly contested state house seat in Kalamazoo County in 2008, the same year Obama whipped Sen. John McCain in the County. DeShazor has also been active in Portage city politics so his name is well known. In sum, any one of these three candidates will be strong competition for the Democratic nominee. However, as of this date we think Schuitmaker will be the nominee in spite of her poor base, for two reasons. First, she is the only woman in the race. And second, with the Chamber endorsement, she will be able to hit the media as hard as Wenke.

The 25th District consists of St. Clair and Lapeer Counties and is strongly in the Republican camp. The Republicans have three candidates, two of whom have previous legislative experience. Term limited State Rep. Phil Pavlov of St. Clair is the odds-on favorite because of his current service. Lauren Hager is a former state representative from Port Huron. He has extensive experience in local government and was a former teacher. Todd Courser is a lawyer from Lapeer where he operates a private practice. Even though Courser does not have to share the same political base as the other two candidates, the call here is a win by Pavlov due in large measure to his current service and name identification.

The 26th District is seen by Republicans as ripe for a possible pick up. In 2006, Democratic Senator Deb Cherry was reelected with over 60% of the vote. However, 2006 was a strong year for the Democrats and the Republicans believe they can win here. The district consists of much of rural and suburban Genesee County and the northern part of Oakland County. The leading candidate is former state representative Dave Robertson of Grand Blanc who was termed out in 2008. Robertson has also served as a Genesee County Commissioner and is known as a hard campaigner. He does, however, have two formidable opponents. Fran Amos of Waterford is also a former state representative and was an Oakland County Commissioner. Michael Matheny of Grand Blanc has long been active in local government, including being the current Mayor of Grand Blanc. Tim Terpening of Davisburg, an ordained minister, is making his second attempt at legislative office. However, we are still calling it for Robertson.

As with the Democrats, the 29th District is a hotly contested primary for the Republicans. The leader as of this date is House Minority Leader Dave Hildenbrand of Lowell. The other competitive candidate is Lori Wiersma of Grand Rapids who has a number of personal endorsements including those of Congressman Vern Ehlers and Senator Mark Jansen. However, due to organization, name recognition and money, Hildenbrand is still the favorite to be the GOP nominee.

The 33rd District consists of Clinton, Isabella, Ionia and Montcalm Counties. The winner of this primary will most assuredly be elected in the fall. State Rep. Brian Calley of Portland serves as Minority Vice Chair of the House Tax Policy Committee and has been endorsed by incumbent State Senator Alan Cropsey. Michael Trebesh of St. Johns is a township treasurer and used to be with the state auditor general's office. Calley should win, but Trebesh is waging an aggressive campaign. That, coupled with the fact that this district often surprises with the sheer number of stealth conservative voters. This is one to watch.

The 35th District encompasses Clare County on the south all the way to Leelanau County in the northwest. It is a strongly Republican district that will go that way this year. The leading contender to get the nomination is State Rep. Darwin Booher of Evart. He is a former banker and township supervisor. His chief competition is Gary Finstrom who is the long serving Wexford County Sheriff. Kevin Davis of Rapid City, a former Michigan conservation officer, is the other candidate. This could be an interesting race because Fivstrom does have a base, but as of this date we believe the nominee will be Booher because he is a current legislator with better name identification.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Over the past two elections (2006 and 2008), the Democrats made great gains in the House of Representatives. In 2006 the Democrats took the majority for the first time in ten years. In 2008, the Democrats forged a 14 seat majority (67-43). This majority is the largest the Democrats have enjoyed in thirty years. Clearly, some of the newly elected Democrats, especially in rural and suburban areas which are traditionally Republican, would not have been elected but for the unpopularity of the previous Republican Administration in Washington. While we think the Republicans will make some big gains in the House, we do not think the GOP can take the majority back this time around, if for no other reason than sheer numbers.

Following is our analysis of key Republican primary races in some of the key House districts that are now held by Democrats and which will be hotly contested in November.

The 1st House District has been represented by a Republican for generations. It consists of the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods. It has slowly trended toward the Democrats and is now considered marginally in their column. Rep. Tim Bledsoe is seeking reelection after defeating the Republican in 2008 with over 56% of the vote. Bledsoe has two Democratic Primary challenges and the Republicans have two strong challengers as well. The Republican side has Janice Du Mouchelle. The Du Mouchelle name is very familiar to Pointe natives as her husband owns Du Mouchelle Galleries in Detroit. She is accomplished in her own right in risk management and insurance. Charles "Terry" Davis III is a principal in a financial consulting firm. He also served in President Reagan's administration. This will be a very competitive race with Republicans having the resources to wage an effective campaign. Du Mouchelle has a very slight edge here based on her name identification.

The 20th House District encompasses a part of Canton Township, and Northville and Plymouth Townships. It is statistically and traditionally Republican. However, in 2006 a young Democratic lawyer, Marc Corriveau, won and was re-elected in 2008. This year, Corriveau, who was eligible for 1 more term in the House, filed for the Senate race without also refilling for the House. A day after the filing deadline he suddenly withdrew, leaving the Democrats without a candidate. The Republicans have 3 candidates, each of whom would be formidable in the November election. Kurt Heise of Plymouth is an attorney and former director of the Wayne County Department of Environment. Joan Wadsworth of Northville is vice president of the Northville Board of Education and has served in various local government positions. Steve Booher of Plymouth Township is a manufacturers representative in the auto supply business. This is a great chance for the Republicans to take back this seat as the Democrats' only hope of retention is through a possible independent candidacy from former Republican state representative John Stewart. At this time, we look for Wadsworth to emerge from the Republican primary. She is the only female in the race and she has a base (Northville) to herself.

The 21st District consists of most of Canton Township and all of Van Buren Township. the incumbent state representative is Democrat Dian Slavens who is just completing her first term. Even though the district is statistically Democratic, it was previously held by the current Republican, Canton Township Supervisor Phil Lajoy. Lori Levi of Canton is a business owner and is viewed as more conservative than her opponent. Shannon Price, also of Canton, is the former Director of Constituent Relations for Attorney General Cox. We view this primary as nearly even today.

The 24th House District consists of St. Clair Shores, Harrison Township and Lake Township. The incumbent state representative is Democrat Sarah Roberts, who is completing her first term. Vying for the right to face her in November are Jan Jorgensen, the Harrison Township Clerk, and Anthony Forlini, the Harrison Township Supervisor. At this stage, the race is too close to call.

The 30th House District has been represented by a Rocca for over 30 years. This year, with Republican term limited state representative Tory Rocca running for the Senate, the Republican field is wide open in this 50-50 district. Michael Shallal of Sterling Heights is an Iraq war veteran and is currently a government contractor. Jeff Farrington of Utica is President of a staffing company. David Bacek of Sterling Heights is a veteran worker on political campaigns. This is close, but the edge seems to go to Farrington.

The 32nd House District is located in the heart of Macomb County and encompasses Armada, Richmond and Chesterfield Townships and the City of New Baltimore. The District is now represented by Jennifer Haase, a Democrat who took this seat from the Republicans in 2008. The Republicans believe this is their seat and have made it a priority. Andrea La Fontaine of Richmond is a student at Central Michigan University and worked in Senator Alan Sanborn's district office. David Novak is a veteran and formerly worked in retail. Galen Johnson of Chesterfield is an engineer. He ran in the Republican Primary for this seat in 2008 and received less than 10% of the vote. Michael Shmina of Fair Haven operates his family's construction business. As of this date, there is no clear front runner.

The 52nd House District is currently served by term limited state representative Pam Byrnes from Chelsea. The Republicans see a great chance to regain this seat after 6 long years. The district includes out-county Washtenaw and a part of both the City and Township of Ann Arbor. Mark Ouimet of Ann Arbor is the only Republican candidate. He is a Washtenaw County Commissioner and formerly sat on the Ann Arbor City Council. He is a fundraiser for several governmental and nonprofit organizations. The Republicans are thrilled with Ouimet and believe he can win back the seat.

The 55th District now served by term limited Democratic state representative Kathy Angerer of Dundee includes the townships of Bedford, Dundee, Erie, York, Milan, Whiteford and Summerfield in Monroe County and Saline Township in Washtenaw County. The district base is marginally Democratic, so the Republicans hope to pick this one up. Mary Thayer is probably the best known among the GOP candidates. She is the CEO of an engineering firm, former Monroe County Commissioner and Bedford Township Trustee. Frank Chrzanowski of Dundee is vice president of UST, Inc. Frank Olson is an attorney and was a certified financial planner and public school business manager. The field is rounded out by Andrew Sosnoski of Milan who affiliates with the Tea Party. Thayer has to be considered the favorite because of her name recognition throughout the district and because she is the only female in the race.

The neighboring 56th District includes the cities of Monroe and Luna Pier and also Frenchtown La Salle, Ash, Berlin, Exeter, London and Raisinville Townships. It has a strong Democratic base and is currently being served by Democratic state representative Kate Ebli who is seeking reelection. However, Republicans will be competitive because 2010 is shaping up as "their" year and because they have a strong candidate to face the incumbent. Dave Zorn of Ida has been on the Monroe County Commission for nearly 20 years. He is a lifetime district resident and operates a business there. Bob Wentz of Monroe is a former Ford Motor Company employee. Zorn is clearly the favorite here and should make the race in the fall competitive.

The 57th District consists of all of Lenawee County except Cambridge Township. For the past 12 years the Spade brothers, Doug and Dudley, have held the seat for the Democrats even though the district is marginally Republican. As of this date, it appears the leading Republican candidate is Jim Van Doren who is the current chair of the county commission. His opposition, Nancy Jenkins of Clayton, is on leave as the district representative for Sen. Cameron Brown. Whoever emerges from the primary will have a very competitive race against the Democratic nominee who is the long time Mayor of Tecumseh.

The 64th District consists of the City of Jackson and surrounding townships. Democratic state representative Marty Griffin, the incumbent running for reelection, won with over 60% of the vote in 2008, but that was a strong Democratic year. Moreover, last year Griffin got trounced by a Republican in a special election to fill a state senate seat. So, the winner of the GOP Primary has a shot to unseat the incumbent Democrat in what looks like a Republican year. Dr. Jane Grover is a dentist who practices in the district. She has sat on the State Board of Dentistry and the Maternal and Child Health Task Force. Earl Poleski is a CPA and since 2007 has served on the Jackson County Commission. A slight edge here goes to Poleski who has obtained numerous endorsements from local pols.

A seat the Republican are counting on as a pick up is the 65th District. It has a marginally Republican base and consists of townships in eastern Jackson, northern Lenawee and eastern Eaton counties. In 2008 the incumbent, the late Mike Simpson, took over 60% of the vote. The seat has remained vacant since his death in December 2009. The GOP Primary has 3 candidates. Sharon Marie Renier of Munith has been a Democratic candidate for Congress. She is an organic farmer and paralegal. Michael Shirkey of Clark Lake is a business owner and past school board member. Joe Rokicsak of Brooklyn is the former managing director of an alternative energy company. As of this date, we see Shirkey as the probable winner to face off against Democrat Janet Rochefort of Pleasant Lake, the Jackson County Treasurer who served 28 years.

The Democrats took a seat from the Republicans in the rural 70th District with the election of Mike Huckleberry in 2008. The district is in Ionia and Montcalm Counties. Its Republican base is fairly strong so the GOP is optimistic about returning it to the fold. No fewer than 5 candidates are seeking the nomination. Rick Outman of Six Lakes is on the Board of Directors for the Soil Conservation District and lost the primary election in 2008. Lloyd Scoby of Greenville is on the City Council and is a retired president of Chemical Bank. Edward Sternisha of Belding is a business owner and has worked in numerous jobs. Michael Van Kleeck of Ada had filed to run for Congress but withdrew when Rep. Justin Amash filed for that race. Denise Drury of Riverdale is a Tea Party candidate. The race appears to be boiling down to Scoby and Outman.

The 71st District is represented by term limited State Representative Rick Jones who will in all likelihood replace Patty Birkholz as the next state senator from the area. Four Republicans are vying for the nomination in a district. Deb Shaughnessy of Charlotte is the former mayor of Charlotte. Laurie Raines of Grand Ledge is the former legislative aide to Rep. Jones and the wife of the sheriff of Eaton County. Brit Slocum of Delta Township is the owner of Jersey Giant restaurants and is the Waverly School Board vice president. Cheryl Krapf Haddock of Grand Ledge is the executive director of the Child Abuse Council. While the Democrats hope to take this district away from the Republicans in November, the GOP nominee will still be favored, especially in this Republican year.  .

The 83rd District consists of Sanilac and St. Clair Counties. The district is represented by term limited Democrat John Espinoza and the Republicans aim to take this one back. Seeing this opportunity, there are 7 Republicans in the race. Kirk Dale of Marlette is the supervisor of the Township. John Hoffman of Applegate is a consultant, retired Navy commander and plant manager at Parke Davis Co. Paul Muxlow of Brown City is a real estate broker and former school board member. Ed Smith of Lexington is a township supervisor and chair of the Sanilac Planning Commission. Ed Tubbs of Sandusky is co-owner of a collision repair shop and served as chair of the County's Economic Development Corporation. Justin Faher of Deckerville is the founder of his own plumbing and heating company. Alan Broughton of Port Sanilac is a retired school superintendent and principal. As of this date there is no clear favorite in the race although Muxlow should benefit due to name recognition.

The 84th House District consists of Huron and Tuscola counties and is represented by Democrat Terry Brown who is finishing his second term. The district leans Republican, but Brown won it, albeit in a great Democratic year, with nearly 65% of the vote. This year Republican Kurt Damrow of Port Austin will try to unseat Brown. Damrow is a Huron County commissioner and was a district representative for former state representative Mike Green.

The 91st District is located in Muskegon and Ottawa Counties. It consists of most of the townships that surround the City of Muskegon. This is a swing district that is marginally Democratic. It does, however, have a history of swinging back and forth between political parties for its representation in Lansing. The district is currently represented by term limited Democrat Mary Valentine and the Republicans would love to have this seat swing back their way. Holly Hughes of Montague is the odds on favorite to repeat as the GOP nominee (she lost to Valentine in 2008). She is a Republican National Committeewoman and former school board member. Ken Punter of Ravenna is a farmer and Marine Corps officer.

The 101st District is statistically Republican, but is served by first term Democrat Dan Scripps of Northport. Two Republicans seek the right to run against Scripps and place the district back in the GOP column. John Arens of Cedar is co-owner of the Leelanau Coffee Roasting Company. Ray Franz of Onekama is the former Onekama Village president and the owner of a market in the Village. He ran against Scripps in 2008 and lost, taking only 40% of the vote. 

The 103rd District encompasses 7 counties stretching across Michigan's mid-northern tier. It is very diverse politically with Missaukee County on the west and Iosco on the east. For the past twelve years the district has been represented by a Sheltrown, first Dale and now Joel. Odds are the next Democratic nominee will also be a Sheltrown. This time it's Van Sheltrown, the brother of Dale and Joel. This district is slightly Republican and the GOP would love to take it back. Bruce Rendon of Lake City is a homebuilder and dairy farmer. He is a former Missaukee County Planning Commission chair. Dave Ryan of Alger was the Republican nominee in 2008, but lost badly to incumbent Joel Sheltrown. Phil Bendily of Roscommon is the Roscommon County Systems administrator. Larry Boyce of Lupton has served on the West Branch Downtown Development Authority and the Ogemaw County Economic Development Corporation. Susan Vick of West Branch is a social worker with hospice. Anton Gojcaj of West Branch is a restaurant owner. Charles Webb of Hale is a candidate, but has declared to the Secretary of State that he will not spend more than $1,000. Ryan and Boyce appear to be favorites as of this date.

The 106th District consists of Alpena, Alcona, Crawford, Montmorency, Presque Isle and Oscoda Counties. It is a 50-50 Republican – Democratic district and the Republicans think they can take it back because neither of the Democrats running in the primary are from the Democratic power base, which is Alpena County. Peter Pettalia of Presque Isle will be the Republican nominee. He ran and lost against incumbent term limited Democrat Andy Neumann. Still, by doing so, Pettalia will benefit this time around with much better name recognition.

The 107th District is another open seat held by a term limited incumbent. Rep. Gary McDowell is popular but the district is nearly 55% Republican. Two Republicans are vying for the nomination. Mike Patrick of Cedarville is a manager of a lumber company and has been a Mackinac County commissioner. Frank Foster of Pellston is the business manager of a construction company. Right now, it looks as if Patrick has the edge.

The 108th District consists of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee Counties. Rep. Judy Nerat, a Democrat from Wallace, is completing her first term. The district is marginally Democratic, but was represented by a Republican for the six years previous to Nerat's election. The two leading contenders to face Nerat are Mike Faleon of Gladstone, an administrator at Northern Michigan University and Bruce Rosen, the mayor of Iron Mountain. Other candidates include Gaylord Jones of Brampton, Ed McBroom of Vulcan and Brady Nelson of Escanaba.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES

The 1st Congressional District, which is geographically the second largest district east of the Mississippi River, is currently represented by Congressman Bart Stupak. When Stupak resigned, all bets were off and the Republicans believe they can recapture this seat. There are 6 Republicans in the race for the nomination, but 2 have emerged as the clear favorites. State Senator Jason Allen of Alanson has a family business in Traverse City and has served in both the Michigan Senate and House. Dr. Dan Benishek of Crystal Falls is a general surgeon and works at Dickinson County Memorial Hospital. The winner will face off against State Representative Gary McDowell of Rudyard, the only Democrat in the race. Michigan Republicans hope to turn the tables and regain the majority in the Congressional delegation, which currently favors Democrats by an 8 – 7 margin.

In the 2nd Congressional District a Republican will succeed Republican Pete Hoekstra, who is running for Governor. Right now, the leading contenders are Jay Riemersma of Holland, a former college and professional football player and high school coach, and Bill Huizenga of Zeeland, a former state representative and owner of a gravel company.

The 3rd Congressional District encompasses part of Kent County including the City of Grand Rapids and all of Ionia and Barry Counties. There are 5 Republican candidates seeking to replace the retiring Republican Congressman Vern Ehlers. The favorites are State Senator Bill Hardiman of Kentwood, State Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township and Steve Heacock of Grand Rapids, the chief administrative officer and general counsel for the Van Andel Institute.

The 7th Congressional District stretches across Michigan's southern tier of counties bordering Ohio and Indiana. It is statistically Republican, but in 2008, then State Senator Mark Schauer defeated incumbent Republican Tim Walberg by 7,500 votes out of over 306,000 votes cast. The 7th district has seen a lot of change. In this decade alone the district has had 4 different Congressmen. At this stage there are 3 Republicans running. Of those, Brian Rooney, grandson of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney and former Congressman Tim Walberg are the frontrunners. In the final analysis, we see Rooney as getting the nod.

The 9th Congressional District encompasses much of Oakland county including the City of Pontiac and much of the "bedroom" communities of the southern part of the county. Democratic Congressman Gary Peters of Bloomfield Hills defeated longtime incumbent Republican Congressman Joe Knollenberg by over 30,000 votes in 2008. The Republicans hope to take the 9th back in 2010. The 2 leading candidates for the GOP nod are Rocky Raczkowski of Farmington Hills, a former member of the Michigan House of Representatives and Paul Welday of Farmington Hills, the president of a government affairs consulting firm. This is a close call with a slight edge going to Raczkowski.

An interesting Democratic primary is shaping up in the 13th Congressional District which includes much of the City of Detroit, the affluent Grosse Pointes and the Downriver communities of River Rouge, Ecorse, Wyandotte and Lincoln Park. The race is boiling down to that of incumbent Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the mother of former Detroit Mayor and convicted felon Kwame Kilpatrick, and State Senator Hansen Clarke. Standing an outside chance in a crowded field is John Broad, a Grosse Pointe Farms businessman. Don't be surprised if Clarke, even in spite of a lack of money, pulls off the upset.

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