Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Kalamazoo Primary Election Preview

This is a preview of elections in Michigan in 2012. It focuses on primary elections. This post was last updated on August 1, 2012.

While most of political coverage has focused on the 2012 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 Michigan Presidential Candidates]
[List of Primary Election Candidates]
[List of Kalamazoo County Candidates]

February 28: Presidential Primary
This was the date of Michigan's Presidential Primary. Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich battled for delegates, with Romney winning the popular vote but splitting the delegates evenly with Santorum. Romney is the presumptive nominee to face President Barack Obama and various third party candidates in November.

In other races, Democrat county commissioner Tim Greimel won the election to replace Tim Melton in district 29 (Pontiac). Republican County Commissioner Joseph Graves won the race to replace recalled state rep Paul Scott in District 51 (south Genesee).

May 8: School Elections
There were various school bond proposals on the ballot in "Kalamazoo, Gull Lake, Galesburg-Augusta, Allegan, Bangor, White Pigeon, Gobles, Paw Paw, Martin and Marcellus." The following article gives a good summary. Note that school board elections have been moved to November.
Absentee ballots now available for May 8 election; five Kalamazoo-area school districts voting on multi-million tax requests

November 6: General Election
President (Michigan)

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 still has a bad economy thanks to eight years of democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm. Will this help Republicans in the presidential race? Perhaps.

August 7: Other Primaries
US Senate
Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow is seeking a third term. Four Republicans are seeking to replace her. They are
Clark Durant, businessman and former member of the state board of education (1994-98)
Gary Glenn, conservative activist supporting right-to-work and opposing 'gay rights', who announced that he has dropped out
Randy Hekman, former Kent county judge
Pete Hoekstra, former congressman who represented the 2nd district in West Michigan 1992-2010. He lost the Republican primary for governor in 2010
Businessman Peter Konetchy was disqualified for insufficient signatures.
Hoekstra is the favorite, leading in the polls and in fundraising. His main competitor is Durant.

US House of Representatives
Only one of Michigan's 14 congressional districts is likely to have a competitive general election. However, there are interesting primaries shaping up in the 6th, 13th and 14th districts. The following post examines the races in greater detail.
2012 Michigan Congressional Races

Michigan Supreme Court
Conservative Republican Steven Markman will likely seek reelection. Appointed Republican Brian Zhara will likely seek to fill the remainder of the term to which he was appointed. Democrat Marilyn Kelly has reached the age limit, so her seat will be open. Republicans Jane Markey and Colleen O'Connor are running. Republicans currently have a 4-3 majority on the court, so this election could result in anything from 5-2 D to 5-2 R. Democrats have endorsed Connie Kelley, Shelia Johnson and Bridget McCormack for the court.

Education Boards
Two seats on each of four boards will be up. Democrats endorsed candidates in March.

Michigan Board of Education
Republicans: Nancy Danhoff, Melanie Kurdys
Democrats: Lupe Ramos-Montigny, Michelle Fecteau

University of Michigan Board of Regents
Republicans: Ron Weiser, Rob Steele, Dan Horning
Democrats: Mark Bernstein, Shauna Ryder Diggs

Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Republicans: Anne Norlander, Jeff Sakwa, Melanie Foster
Democrats: Joel Ferguson, Brian Mosallam

Wayne State University Board of Governors
Democrats: Sandra Hughes O'Brien, Kim Trent

Ballot Proposals
Seven propositions have submitted signatures and may appear on the ballot, pending verification of signatures and legal challenges. See the following.
2012 Michigan Ballot Propositions

Michigan House of Representatives
All 110 seats in the Michigan state house will be up for election. Some members will be term-limited. Republicans currently have a 63-37 majority. The new redistricting plan helps Republicans some, but not as much as it could have. The following article summarizes all the races.
2012 Michigan State House Races

In the greater Kalamazoo area...

60th District (Kalamazoo city) Safe democrat
Democrat Sean McCann has an even safer district than before, and should have no trouble getting reelected. The Republican candidate is Michael Perrin.

61st District (Portage, Oshtemo) Safe Republican
Conservative Republican Margaret O'Brien will likely be reelected easily against democrat Michael Martin. The district became safer by losing western Kalamazoo Township to the 60th and adding Schoolcraft Township.

62nd District (Battle Creek, Albion) Leans democrat
Incumbent democrat Kate Segal will face Republican former Battle Creek mayor Mark Behnke. This district became more democrat with the addition of Bedford and Pennfield.

63rd District (E Kalamazoo, S Calhoun) Safe Republican
Republican Speaker Jase Bolger won't have trouble with reelection against democrat Bill Farmer in a district that drops Bedford and Pennfield and adds rural conservative townships in Calhoun.

66th District (Van Buren, Cooper) Safe Republican
Conservative Republican Aric Nesbitt should be safe against democrat Richard Rajkovich in a district that drops a small piece of Allegan and adds NW Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo Countywide Offices
All six countywide offices are up for election. Republicans hold four of six offices.

Sheriff: Leans Democrat
Democrat Richard Fuller defeated Republican Michael Anderson in 2008. Republicans Bruce LaBrie and Ward Lawrence are running.

Prosecutor: Leans Republican
Incumbent Republican Jeff Fink will not seek reelection. Assistant prosecutor Scott Pierangeli, a member of the Portage Library Board, will run. The democrat candidate will be former assistant prosecutor Jeffrey Getting.

Clerk: Leans Republican
Incumbent moderate Republican Tim Snow will seek reelection. He will face leftist democrat County Commissioner Brian Johnson.

Treasurer: Leans Republican
Republican Mary Balkema, who was appointed to replace Sharon Cubitt in 2007, will seek reelection. Balkema barely defeated a token challenger in 2008. Her democrat opponent is Oshtemo Township Trustee and Mattawan School Board member Grace Borgfjord. It is possible that liberal billionaire Jon Stryker will fund Borgfjord this time due to Balkema's opposition to a 'gay rights' ordinance in Kalamazoo city in 2009.

Drain Commissioner: Tossup
The incumbent is democrat Patricia Crowley. In 2008, she defeated Republican Pat Crouse who was appointed to replace Bill French, who was convicted of a crime. She will face Republican County Commissioner Nasim Ansari, who had applied for the position in 2008.

Surveyor: Safe Republican
Incumbent Republican Bill Hahn is unopposed. The position is unpaid, and its holder must be a licenced surveyor.

Kalamazoo County Commission
Republicans have a 10-7 majority on the commission. Redistricting will shrink the commission to 11 seats, changing the district boundaries. The new map is likely to yield a 7-4 Republican majority, but district 5 will likely be competitive. The following post has detailed descriptions of the districts and their political leanings.
Kalamazoo County Commission Districts.

The following article has more detailed analysis of the county commission races.
2012 Kalamazoo County Commission Election Preview

Township Elections
There are plenty of contested township elections. Some are noteworthy.
Here's who is running in Kalamazoo County in August and November county and township elections
Several township supervisor positions in Kalamazoo County to be decided in August primary

Comstock Township: Incumbent democrat Supervisor Tim Hudson will not seek reelection. Moderate Republican County Commissioner Ann Nieuwenhuis will face trustee Randy Thompson. There will be a competitive race for the other township board positions.

Kalamazoo Township: Democrat incumbent Supervisor is Terri Mellinger, who has had trouble paying her taxes and has had health problems, is not seeking reelection. Two democrats, trustee Ron Reid and Michael Szekely are seeking the seat.  Four democrats and one Republican, Kathleen Doornbas, are seeking the four trustee positions currently held by democrats.

Oshtemo Township: The incumbent democrat Supervisor is Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell. She will be challenged by former democrat county commissioner John Nieuwenhuis, running as a Republican. There are also four trustee positions up for election, two of which are currently held by appointee due to the resignations of Republican Jim Grace and democrat Scott McCormick. Seven Republicans and three democrats are running.

Texas Township: There is a conflict between Supervisor Dave Healy and the other members of the township board.  There are two slates of candidates competing in the Republican primary.  Healy is being challenged in the primary by Greg Pendowski. Conservative Erin Hoogendyk is among the four incumbent Republican trustees. The following post offers more details.
Trouble in Texas
Don't Mess With Texas Township

Incumbent judges J. Richardson Johnson, Pamela Lightvoet, Paul Bridenstine, and Curtis Bell are all unopposed.

School Boards
School board elections were moved to November by a recent bill. There is nothing to report on these elections yet.

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