Note: This preview was for the primary. An updated election preview will soon be available.
While most of political coverage has focused on the 2008 presidential primary races, there will be many other races on the ballot. Here is an overview of the races relevant to Kalamazoo readers. More detailed profiles of some of the races will follow soon.
[List of all Michigan candidates.][List of local candidates] [List of all Kalamazoo County candidates here.]
Senator John McCain will be the Republican nominee. He will face many challenges in his bid for the White House. See his political profile and articles about him. The Democrat nominee will be Senator Barack Obama. Several third party candidates are running, including pastor Chuck Baldwin for the Constitution Party, former Congressman Bob Barr for the Libertarian Party, and the eventual nominee of the Green Party.
Republicans face many challenges in the battle for Congress. They face higher rates of retirements and more competitive seats in both the House and Senate. If Democrats win larger margins in Congress, they will be more able to pass their legislation.
Michigan leans slightly to the left in Presidential elections. This means that democrats need to win Michigan to win the White House, but Republicans don't. Michigan continues going through a recession during the sixth year of democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm. Will this help Republicans in the presidential race? Perhaps.
Senator Carl Levin will seek yet another term in 2008. Levin has an extremely liberal record which the media has largely refused to report. Hence he is favored for reelection. Levin will face conservative State Representative Jack Hoogendyk.
US House of Representatives
All fifteen Michigan congressmen are seeking reelection. Most will be pretty safe, but a few will have hotly contested races.
Veteran democrat Congressman Bart Stupak will face conservative Republican State Representative Tom Casperson, who will try to make this a competitive race. Two other Republicans, Don Hooper and Linda Goldthorpe, are seeking the Republican nomination.
Longtime Congressman Fred Upton will face very liberal Kalamazoo City Commissioner Don Cooney. Upton is strongly favored to win.
Freshman Republican Congressman Tim Walberg will face Democrat state senate minority leader Mark Schauer. The democratic establishment succeeded in pushing Schauer's significant primary competitors out of the race, thought Sharon Renier is also running. Walberg barely won against a weak democrat opponent in 2006, yet he still managed to win an open seat in a bad year for Republicans after a bitter primary with former Rep. Joe Schwarz. The Club for Growth will again provide support to Walberg.
Veteran Republican Congressman Joe Knollenberg will face democrat former state senator Gary Peters. Peters has been a subject of controversy due to the very cushy position that he received at Central Michigan University, which is 122 miles away from the 9th district.
Democrats Martha Scott and Mary Waters have filed to challenge liberal Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the mother of embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Michigan Supreme Court
Conservative Republican Michigan Supreme Court Justice Cliff Taylor will seek reelection. It has been widely expected that the democrats will field a well-funded candidate. The state supreme court races for the last three cycles have been quiet, with incumbents winning easy victories. The last heavily contested races were in 2000, when the democrat campaign against Republican justices "Markman and Taylor and Young" failed to defeat them.
Seats on the Michigan Board of Education and University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University boards of trustees will be up for election. Several Republican candidates have declared interest in these races. Susan Brown, a Republican who lost a race for U of M board in 2006, will run again this election.
A proposal to legalize medical marijuana will be on the ballot as proposal 1. Proposals on embryonic stem cell research and rewriting the state constitution have turned in signiatures and may be on the ballot.
Michigan House of Representatives
All 110 seats in the Michigan state house will be up for election. Forty percent (44) of state reps will be term-limited, and all but one of the rest will seek reelection. The democrats currently have a four-seat majority. Republicans will target many of the democrats who won Republican seats in 2006, while democrats will target some of the Republicans who survived close races in 2006. The incompetence of the democrat leadership may hurt them in November.
In the greater Kalamazoo area...
59th District (St. Jospeh, Cass County)
Incumbent Republican Rick Shaffer will leave this safe district due to term limits. Monte Bordner, Matt Lori, and Rob Sisson are seeking the Republican nomination. Carol Higgins and Richard Homan are seeking the democrat nomination.
60th District (Kalamazoo)
Incumbent democrat Robert Jones will likely be safe against his Republican challenger, libertarian conservative Charles Ybema.
61st District (Portage, Oshtemo)
Conservative Republican Jack Hoogendyk will leave office due to term limits. Democrat Julie Rogers, who narrowly lost to Jack in 2006, will be the democrat nominee. Portage City Council members Margaret O'Brien and Larry DeShazor will run for the Republican nomination along with David Yardley. O'Brien is a conservative and DeShazor is a moderate.
62nd District (Battle Creek, Albion)
Republican Mife Nofs will leave this competitive district due to term limits. Calhoun County Commissioner Gregory Moore and Battle Creek City Commissioner Susan Baldwin are seeking the Republican nomination. County Commissioner Kate Segal and college graduate Tim Nendorf are seeking the democrat nomination.
63rd District (Comstock, Marshall)
Maverick Republican Lorence Wenke will leave this fairly safe district due to term limits. Calhoun County Commissioner Jase Bolger is unopposed for the Republican nomination. Former State Rep. Jerry VanderRoest withdrew from the race. Phyllis Smith, who lost the race for this seat in 2006 will again be the democrat nominee.
88th District (Allegan County)
Conservative Republican Fulton Sheen will leave office due to term limits. Eight Republicans are seeking this seat. They are Todd Boorsma, Randal Brink, Shelly Edgerton, Jeff Farnsworth, William Galligan, Bob Genetski, Joshua Leatherman, and Spencer Moore. Farnsworth has the support of much of the county Republican establishment. Farnsworth and Boorsma both claim Sheen's endorsement. Tom Clark will be the democrat nominee for this safe Republican seat.
Republican incumbents will run for reelection in districts districts 80 (VanBuren County), 87 (Barry County), and 79 (northern Berrien County). Republicans will vacate seats in districts 78 (southern Berrien County) and 58 (Hillsdale/Branch Counties).
Kalamazoo Countywide Offices
All six countywide offices are up for election. Republicans hold all six offices.
Sherriff: Republican Michael Anderson will seek reelection. He is being challenged by Ricky Coombs in the Republican primary. Richard Fuller and Ray Roberts will compete for the democrat nomination. Anderson should be safe for reelection.
Prosecutor: Republican Jeff Fink will seek reelection. He will be challenged by democrat Robert Champion. Fink should be pretty safe for reelection.
Clerk: Republican Tim Snow will seek reelection. He will be challenged by democrat David Kinsey. Snow should be safe for reelection.
Treasurer: Republican Mary Balkema will seek election after being appointed to replace Sharon Cubitt in 2007. Democrat Julie Kaufman will challenge Mary.
Drain Commissioner: Republican Pat Crouse will seek election after being appointed in 2008 to replace Bill French, who was convicted of a crime. He will be challenged by democrat Patricia Crowley.
Surveyor: Republican Bill Hahn is unopposed for this office. He will replace Republican Bob Snell, who is retiring. The position is unpaid, and its holder must be a licenced surveyor.
8th District Judge
There is one open judicial race in Kalamazoo County, and hence one contested race. Four candidates are running for the nonpartisan position. They are Jeffrey Gagie, Bill Murphy, Sondra Nowak, and Julie Phillips. Phillips is a Republican and Murphy is an independent. Nowak is endorsed by liberal democrat former State Rep. Alexander Lipsey.
Kalamazoo County Commission
Democrats currently have a 9-8 majority on the commission. Republicans will target the districts they lost in 2006, while democrats could target districts that they narrowly failed to win in 2006 in Portage and the southeastern part of the county. Republicans did not file candidates for four county commission seats, and democrats did not file for one seat.
District 6: Democrat Larry Stieglitz will again challenge commissioner Franklin Thompson in the primary, after losing in 2006.
District 10: Thomas Drabik is retiring. Former Portage Mayor James Graham is unopposed for the Republican nomination. Democrat Michael Quinn, who narrowly lost to Drabik in 2006, will again be the democrat nominee.
District 12: Democrat John Nieuwenhuis won this seat from Republican Bob Brink in 2006. Republicans Chris Haenicke and Scott Zondervan are seeking the Republican nomination. Haenicke is the son-in-law of former WMU President Diether Haenicke. Zondervan is a conservative who challenged Jack Hoogendyk for renomination in 2006 before dropping out and endorsing him.
District 15: Democrat Leroy Crabtree won this seat from Republican Joe VanBruggen in 2006. Republicans Ann Nieuwenhius and Derek Robinson are seeking the Republican nomination.
There are plenty of contested township elections. A few are noteworthy.
Comstock Township: The controversy over Trustee Bill Shields spurred a bumper crop of filings. Fifteen candidates are running for trustee, including Shields. Four candidates are running for Supervisor. Incumbent democrat Tim Hudson will be challenged by democrats Gary Gillette and Roger Poe. The Republican nominee will be Sue Fritz.
Kalamazoo Township: There are five candidates for Supervisor. Justin VanderArk, Patrick Butler, Kathleen Doornbos, and Jospeh Thomas will compete for the Republican nomination. VanderArk is a conservative who works for the area homebuilders association. The democrat nominee will be Terri Mellinger. Six democrats and three Republicans are seeking four trustee positions.
Oshtemo Township: Incumbent Republican Supervisor John VanDyke is not running for reelection. Former County Commissioner Bob Brink, who lost his seat in 2006, will compete with Charles Hill for the Republican nomination. The democrat nominee will be Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell. Six Republicans and two democrats are seeking four trustee positions.
Texas Township: Conservative Republican Dave Healy will challenge incumbent supervisor Ron Commissaris. Erin Hoogendyk is among the five candidates for four trustee positions.