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A Better Partnership


Aug 2010
August 06, 2010

From The Capitol - Special Edition - The Michigan Primary Election

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



Republican businessman Rick Snyder and Democrat Virg Bernero, Mayor of Lansing emerged as the nominees of their Parties for Governor. The fact that they prevailed was not as much of a surprise as was the margin of their victory. Polling just before the last weekend of the campaign had Snyder eking out a lead with approximately 14% undecided. Bernero on the other hand with the help of organized labor surged into an 8 point lead over House Speaker Andy Dillon with 28% undecided. In both cases, nearly all the "undecideds" voted with the eventual winner, making the margin much larger than the last polls indicated. In the end, Snyder attained 36% of the vote, Congressman Pete Hoekstra 27%, Attorney General Mike Cox 23%, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard 12% and Sen. Tom George 2%.

Bernero on the other hand, steamrolled House Speaker Andy Dillon by a 59 to 41 margin with the help of the major labor unions of this state in both money and ground troops.

The race this Fall with contrast two very different styles. Businessman Snyder is quieter, emphasizing a cerebral approach to problems, even referring to himself at times as "one tough nerd."

Bernero was dubbed last year by CNN as America's "angriest mayor" as he defended the Big 3 auto companies from out of state politicians. In contrast to Snyder, there usually isn't much measured speech by Bernero. He tells you what he thinks and he tells you right away. So, the Fall campaign will offer not only contrasting political philosophies, but contrasting styles as well.


WHAT A RACE! In one of the most bizarre results in Michigan political history, it appears that Crystal Falls physician Dan Beneshek defeated State Senator Jason Allen of Alanson by – count it – 1 vote for the GOP nomination in the 1st Congressional District. This seat is the one being vacated by Democratic incumbent Bart Stupak and encompasses a large swath of Michigan including the Upper Peninsula and most of Northern Michigan. Both sides are claiming victory, so rest assured there will be a recount.


Michigan's 2nd Congressional District, currently represented by Pete Hoekstra, stretches from Allegan County northward along Lake Michigan all the way to the Benzie – Leelanau County line. Former State Representative Bill Huizenga of Holland defeated businessman and former NFL player Ray Riemersma and State Senator Wayne Kuipers to earn the Republican nomination. Huizenga will succeed Hoekstra in Washington as the District is overwhelmingly Republican.


Freshman State Representative Justin Amash from Kentwood bested Grand Rapids attorney and businessman Steve Heacock and State Senator Bill Hardiman to win the Republican nomination to replace the retiring incumbent Republican Congressman Vern Ehlers. Amash in known as being nearly Libertarian in his philosophy, a philosophy which set him apart from other mainstream conservatives. With the nomination of Amash, a district which has traditionally voted Republican might now become competitive.


Former Congressman Tim Walberg of Tipton won the right to a rematch with Democratic congressman Mark Schauer of Battle Creek when he defeated two other GOP opponents to gain his Party's nod. Since 2002, this volatile district has had 4 different Congressmen so the Fall race will be very exciting to say the least.


As predicted by us 3 weeks ago, former State Representative Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski won his Republican primary and the right to challenge Democratic incumbent Gary Peters. The 9th District takes in much of Oakland county and was previously represented by Joe Knollenberg before Peters beat him in 2008.


State Senator Hansen Clarke (D-Detroit), ousted long serving incumbent Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick by a ten point margin. Congressman Kilpatrick is the mother of the former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who is now serving a prison term for violating conditions of probation and has been indicted on federal tax fraud charges. The strong Democratic advantage in the District assures that Clarke will win in November.


There were few surprises in State Senate races. The one exception was the win by former State Representative Paula Zelenko over current State Representative Jim Slezak in the 26th district which encompasses much of Genesee County and Northern Oakland County. The district is currently represented by Democrat Deb Cherry.

It wasn't so much who won, but rather, the margin of victory as former Representative Jack Brandenberg won a brutal GOP nomination fight in Macomb County's 11th District.

In spite of her opponent spending $365,000 of his own money, State Representative Tonya Schuitmaker easily won the GOP nomination in the 20th District which includes Kalamazoo and a bit of Van Buren Counties.


State representatives could take a seat in the Senate class of 2011.

They include Republicans Mike Kowall, John Proos, Joe Hune, Rick Jones, Phil Pavlov, Dave Robertson, Dave Hildenbrand, Tonya Schuitmaker, Tory Rocca, Arlan Meekhof, Mike Green, Brian Calley, Darwin Booher, Jim Marleau and Howard Walker.

Democrats include Coleman Young, Bert Johnson, Morris Hood, Virgil Smith Jr., Hoon-Yung Hopgood, Steve Bieda, Vince Gregory, Rebekah Warren, Paula Zelenko and Jeff Mayes.


In all likelihood, there will be some familiar sounding names in the next Michigan House.

Thomas Stallworth, III, son of former State Representative Alma Stallworth won the Democratic nod in the 5th District within the City of Detroit.

Paul Clemente, cousin of term limited State Representative Ed Clemente of Lincoln Park won the Democratic nomination to succeed his cousin.

Former Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanagh of Redford Township won the Democratic nomination in the 17th District now occupied by Speaker Andy Dillon. Cavanagh is the son of former Detroit Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh and nephew of current Supreme Court Justice Michael F. Cavanagh.

Ken Lampar, Macomb County Commissioner and former aide to Governor Blanchard, won the Democratic Primary. The district includes the Cities of Sterling Heights and Utica.

State Senator Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac) will be back. This time as a State Representative after his primary victory.

Lisa Posthumus Lyons from Lowell, daughter of former Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus won the GOP nomination to succeed House Minority Floor Leader Dave Hildenbrand in this rural Kent County seat.

Amanda Price, district legislative aide to Sen. Patty Birkholz handily won the Republican Primary in this heavily GOP leaning seat in Ottawa County.


Last month we identified several key or marginal House districts which could decide which Party controls that Chamber in 2011. The following is an assessment based upon the Primary results.

1ST DISTRICT: Incumbent Democrat Tim Bledsoe of Grosse Pointe fended off a primary challenge and will face businesswoman Janice DuMouchelle, the Republican nominee. This race could be interesting because Bledsoe won this traditionally Republican seat and the DuMouchelle name has high name identification.

20TH DISTRICT: This district is currently represented by Marc Corriveau, a Democrat, but Corriveau is retiring from politics at least for now. The district is traditionally Republican and the GOP feels they can take it back. Republicans and Democrats will plow plenty of money into this "swing" western Wayne County seat as each side has strong nominees – attorney Kurt Heise for the GOP and Joan Wadsworth, vice president of the Northville School Board, for the Democrats.

21ST DISTRICT: Incumbent Democrat Dian Slavens will be tested by the GOP nominee Lori Levi in this swing district which for years was represented by Republican Phil LaJoy, now the Canton Township Supervisor.

24TH DISTRICT: Incumbent Democrat Sarah Roberts of St. Clair Shores will be tested by Republican nominee Anthony Forlini in this swing Macomb County district.

30TH DISTRICT: The 30th District has been represented by a member of the Rocca family for a generation. The current incumbent, Tory Rocca, is term limited and a Republican. The Democrats think they can take this seat and believe they have a strong candidate in Ken Lampar. The GOP nominee is Jeff Farrington of Utica. This will be a bell weather race.

32ND DISTRICT: In 2008 the 32nd House District saw Democrat Jennifer Haase upset the Republican in a district considered safety Republican. This year Haase has to defend the seat against Andrea LaFontaine, the apparent winner in the close Republican Primary.

52ND DISTRICT: The 52nd District has been represented by term limited Democrat Pam Byrnes of Chelsea. This is a seat the Republicans think they can pick up and they think they have the candidate in Mark Ouimet, a Washtenaw County Commissioner. He will face Democrat Christine Green.

55TH DISTRICT: The 55th District includes much of Monroe county and part of Washtenaw. It has been represented by term limited Democrat Kathy Angerer of Dundee. This year it's Republican Rick Olson, an attorney facing the Democratic nominee Mike Smith.

57TH DISTRICT: The 57th District encompasses most of Lenawee County and has been represented by Democrats Doug and Dudley Spade for the past 12 years. This year the Republicans hope to take the seat back with their nominee, Nancy Jenkins, a former staffer for Senator Cameron Brown. The Democrats have a formidable nominee in Techumseh Mayor Harvey Schmidt.

64TH DISTRICT: The 64th District, which consists of the City of Jackson, is currently being represented by Democrat Marty Griffin. Griffin lost badly in a special election senatorial bid and the Republicans see him as vulnerable. The Republican nominee, Earl Poleski, is a current member of the Jackson County Commission.

65TH DISTRICT: The 65th District is an open seat due to the untimely death last December of Democratic State Representative Mike Simpson. This district has a marginally Republican base and consists of townships in eastern Jackson and northern Lenawee Counties. The Republicans have chosen Mike Shirkey of Clark Lake, a business owner, while the Democratic nominee is former Jackson County Treasurer Janet Rochefort.

83RD DISTRICT: The 83rd District consists of Sanilac and St. Clair Counties, which are very Republican politically. However, the district is being represented by term limited Democrat John Espinoza. The Republican nominee, as predicted, is real estate broker Paul Muxlow. The Muxlow name has a high name identification as a family member represented the district previously. The Democratic nominee is Alan Lewandowski.

84TH DISTRICT: The 84th District, which is represented by Democrat Terry Brown, consists of Huron and Tuscola Counties, normally GOP strongholds. Brown was the beneficiary of local dissatisfaction with Republicans. The Republican nominee is Kurt Damrow, a Huron county Commissioner.

91ST DISTRICT: The 91st District is located in suburban and rural Muskegon and Ottawa Counties. The district is represented by term limited Democrat Mary Valentine. As predicted, the Republican nominee is Holly Hughes of Montague making another try for the job. Ben Gillette is the Democratic nominee.

101ST DISTRICT: The 101st District is statistically Republican, but is being served by Democrat Dan Scripps of Northport. As predicted, Ray Franz an Onekema businessman has emerged as the Republican nominee.

103RD DISTRICT: In the 103rd District, Democrat Van Sheltrown of West Branch will try to make it 3 Sheltrowns in a row to represent the District. Susan Vick, a West Branch social worker is the Republican nominee.

107TH DISTRICT: The 107th District is another seat the Republicans hope to take away. It consists of the eastern Upper Peninsula and the Counties just south of the Mackinac Bridge. Term limited Democrat Gary McDowell currently represents the district. Frank Foster of Pellston is the GOP nominee while Richard Timmer received the Democratic nod.

108TH DISTRICT: The 108th District located in the Upper Peninsula's Delta, Dickinson and Menominee Counties is represented by freshmen Democrat Judy Nerat. Ed McBroom of Vulcan is the Republican nominee.

These are the key districts which we believe at least at this time will determine control of the House of Representatives.

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