Saturday, July 20, 2013

2014 Michigan Primary Election Preview

This post was last updated July 25, 2014.

Michigan's top constitutional offices, congressional seats, and the entire state legislature will be up for election November 2014.

List of Michigan candidates
List of Kalamazoo County Candidates

US Senate: Tossup
Democrat Senator Carl Levin is retiring after 36 years in Washington.  The democrat nominee will be Congressman Gary PetersPeters defeated Republican incumbent Joe Knollenberg in 2008, was narrowly reelected in 2010, and defeated fellow democrat incumbent Hansen Clarke in the 2012 democrat primary in the majority-black 14th district after his district was carved up in redistricting.  He was previously a state senator and lottery commissioner.  Peters is a standard liberal.

The Republican nominee will be former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.  She was easily elected statewide in 2002 (55%) and 2006 (56%).  She was previously Kent County Clerk.  She is generally conservative, but her positions are not known on some issues.  Several other Republicans considered running, but declined.

Governor: Lean Republican
Moderate Republican Governor Rick Snyder is seeking reelection.  The former businessman easily defeated Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero 58-40 in 2010.  Snyder's approval ratings have recovered since controversies over Right-to-Work, Detroit emergency managers, and other issues.  He will be tough to beat.

The democrat nominee will be former congressman (2008-2010) Mark Schauer, who lost reelection in 2010 to Tim Walberg 50-45.  Schauer was previously a state senator (2002-2008) and state rep (1996-2002).  He is a standard liberal with no real experience outside of politics.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley will run with Snyder again.  Tea Party leader Wes Nakagiri will challenge to Calley at the Michigan Republican convention in August.  The democrat nominee will be Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown.

Attorney General: Lean Republican
Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette will seek reelection. He is a conservative who defeated democrat David Leyton 53-44 in 2010 and has championed conservative causes since then.  Both parties will nominate candidates at conventions in August. Democrat candidates include law professor Mark Totten, who is white, and attorney Godfrey Dillard, who is black.

Secretary of State: Lean Republican
Conservative Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson will seek reelection. She defeated democrat Joscelyn Benson 51-45 in 2010.  Both parties will nominate candidates at conventions in August.  No democrats have announced yet.

Michigan Supreme Court
There are two full-term seats up for election on the Michigan Supreme Court. They are those of conservative Republican Brian Zahra and democrat Michael Cavanagh. Zahra was elected to a partial term 50-42 in 2012 and is expected to seek reelection.  Cavanagh is age-limited and his seat will be open.  In addition, the two-year seat will be up due to the appointment of Republican David Viviano to fill the vacancy following the resignation of disgraced democrat Diane Hathaway following her conviction for tax fraud.  Republicans currently hold a 5-2 majority on the court.  Both parties will nominate candidates at conventions in August.

Other Statewide Offices
Two seats on the state Board of Education and boards of trustees of U of M, MSU, and WSU will be up for election. All eight seats up are held by democrats. It isn't clear yet who else will run for these seats. Democrats have swept these elections in 2006, 2008, and 2012, while Republicans swept in 2010.  Republican candidates include
State Board of Education:
UM Board of Regents: Jennifer Gratz, Ron Weiser, Dan Horning, Rob Steele
MSU Board of Trustees: Melanie Foster, Jeff Sakwa, Rick Johnson
WSU Board of Governors:

Ballot Propositions
There will be several ballot propositions. 
Proposal 1 will be voted on in August.  It would repeal the "Personal Property Tax", which is a tax on business equipment, and replace it with expiring business tax credits.  It has support across the political spectrum and no organized opposition.
There will be two referenda on bills to allow a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula, which will be voted on in November.
A minimum wage initiative was disqualified from the ballot.

Michigan Congressional Seats
Republicans hold a 9-5 majority in Michigan's congressional delegation, which was unchanged in the 2012 election. Four districts (4, 8, 12, and 14) are open, and district 3 will see a competitive primary.  Democrats will target districts 1, 7, 8, and 11, though all favor Republicans.

2014 Michigan Congressional Races

Michigan Senate
All 38 seats in the Michigan state senate are up for election, and 9 have no incumbent due to term limits and retirements. Republicans currently hold a 26-12 supermajority after winning a landslide in 2010. Democrats will likely target Republican-held open seats in Kalamazoo County (20), Saginaw (32), and Monroe (17). Republicans will defend incumbents in several other competitive districts (7, 34).  The post below examines these races in detail.

2014 Michigan State Senate Elections

20th District (Kalamazoo County) Tossup
Republican Senator Tonya Schuitmaker will seek reelection in the new 26th district due to redistricting.  State rep Sean McCann of the 60th district will be the democrat nominee.  State rep Margaret O'Brien of the 61st district is the likely Republican nominee.  Realtor Ron Zuiderveen is also running.  Former state rep. Lorence Wenke, who represented about 55,000 people in the 21st district on the east side of Kalamazoo county 2002-2008, will also run, despite having lost his last three races by large margins. Wenke dropped out the Republican primary and is running as a libertarian.

Michigan House
All 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives are up for election. Republicans hold a 59-51 majority.  There will be 40 open seats due to term limits and candidates running for state senate.  Both parties have potential targets to pickup. 

2014 Michigan State House Races

60th District (Kalamazoo City) Safe democrat
Democrat state rep Sean McCann is running for state senate.  The democrats' preferred candidate seems to be county commissioner David Buskirk of SE Kalamazoo.  Political consultant Jon Hoadley and Kalamazoo Township Trustee Pamela Goodacre are also running.
61st District (Portage, Oshtemo) Safe Republican
Republican state rep Margaret O'Brien is running for state senate.  County commissioners Phil Stinchcomb and Brandt Iden are running for the Republican nomination.  The democrat candidate is Pastor John Fisher.
63rd District (E Kalamazoo, S Calhoun) Safe Republican
Republican Speaker Jase Bolger is term-limited.  The Republican candidates are moderate Kalamazoo county commissioner David Maturen, and conservative Marshall school board president Vic Potter.  The democrat candidate will be Bill Farmer, who narrowly lost to Bolger in 2012.

Kalamazoo County Commission
All 11 seats on the Kalamazoo County Commission will be up for election. Republicans hold a 6-5 majority. Republicans will target democrat Julie Rogers (district 5). Democrats will target districts 7 and 11.  There will be six open seats due to four candidates running for state representative and two retiring.

2014 Kalamazoo County Commission Election Preview

Kalamazoo County Probate Court
Trial lawyers Tiffany Ankley and Namita Sharma are running for an open seat on the county probate court.  Sharma is apparently a liberal.

Oshtemo Township Trustee
There is a special election for this seat due to the fact that democrat Coleman Lutz, who was elected in 2012, resigned shortly after the election.  Moderate Republican Dave Bushouse, who was a trustee for 16 years before being defeated in 2012, was appointed to fill the vacancy.  He is running for a partial term.  He is being challenged by Tea Party leader Jim Lefler in the Republican primary.  Democrats Zak Ford and Grant Taylor, who narrowly lost a race for Oshtemo Treasurer in 2012, are running.

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