Tuesday wasn't a good night for Kalamazoo County Republicans, but given the disaster at the top of the ticket, it could have been a lot worse. The results cited in this analysis are available at Election Magic. Results for 2004 and 2002 are also available.
Dick DeVos lost badly at the top of the ticket. He won just 17 of 111 precincts in Kalamazoo County, losing even normally Republican areas like Portage, Richland, and Schoolcraft. He won only Texas township and three other small townships. He did increase his vote total by about 1000 over what Dick Posthumus got four years ago, but Granholm increased her total by about 16,000. I'll give my thoughts on the gubernatorial race in a separate post.
The results were similar in the US Senate race, with Mike Bouchard losing the county by a wide margin. Mike Cox and Terri Land both won Kalamazoo County comfortably, though. Republicans lost all the ed board races in this county, though Kalamazoo native Susan Brown barely missed second place in the U of M race. The MCRI won in Kalamazoo County, though its win was the narrowest of any county in the state.
State Senator Tom George fought off a tough challenge from State Rep. Alexander Lipsey in the 20th district. His margin of victory was cut from 13% last time to 3% this time. Still, he won what was the number one targeted seat in the state. He worked hard and ran an effective campaign that triumphed on election night.
In the 60th House district, Robert Jones easily defeated Armando Romero 70% to 30%. Romero won only one precinct in Cooper Township. Why anyone ever thought this race was winnable is a mystery. In the 61st district, State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk saw his margin of victory cut by about 5%, but he held on to win by 473 votes. In the 63rd district, State Rep. Lorence Wenke saw his margin fall by about 5%, but managed to win without much difficulty.
Conservatives scored a victory in the nonpartisan judicial race, where Pam Lightvoet easily defeated liberal Martin Glista. She won about 58% of the vote. Interestingly, there were about 18000 more votes in the State Senate race than in this race, which probably didn't hurt. Running nonpartisan was a definite advantage for a conservative in this election.
The transportation tax increase passed by about 2500 votes, winning 53.4% of the vote. Not surprisingly, it passed in the areas served by the bus system--Kalamazoo, Portage, Parchment, Kalamazoo and Oshtemo Townships; and failed everywhere else. Proponents were very effective in making this a debate about the Car-a-Van program, which was never the real issue. It seemed as if every user of this program wrote a letter to the editor. Opponents, mainly the KCTA, did what they could with limited resources. When are voters ever going to stop wishing more misery upon themselves?
Democrats picked up two seats on the Kalamazoo County Commission to win a 9-8 majority. Republicans Bob Brink and Joe VanBruggen lost to John Nieuwenhuis and Leroy Crabtree, respectively. Coincidentally, these were the two Republicans who voted for the recent gay rights ordinance. They blamed conservatives for their defeat, but their losses were consistent with voting patterns in their districts. Their districts were the two closest victories for Republicans last time. Brink got 48.9% and VanBruggen got 49.3%, compared to 55.4% and 53.9% in 2004.
Republican Tom Barrett lost to incumbent Democrat John Patrick Taylor by a margin of 2446 to 1993. The margin was 54.2% to 44.2%, with 1.6% going to US Taxpayers candidate Shane Odean. Barrett actually won twelve more votes than Taylor did in 2002, but turnout was significantly higher this time. Tom ran an excellent campaign, and everything except the final result went right. The year and the district were just too Democratic. It's likely that many straight-ticket voters never even got to this part of the ballot. If this had been a nonpartisan race, Tom would have won.
Republican Tom Drabik received a scare in Portage, winning only 50.6% of the vote. Jeff Balkema got only 51.5% in his race. Brandon Moore received 29.1% in his race.
This wasn't a good year for Kalamazoo County Republicans, but it could have been a lot worse. Republicans consistently lost about 5% of the vote from previous elections. A lot of hard work went into reelecting Tom George and Jack Hoogendyk, and for that at least we can be proud.