Monday, August 09, 2010

Analysis of the 20th Senate Primary

Tonya Schuitmaker won a surprisingly large victory in the Republican primary for the 20th state senate district. It was also broad-based. While each of the three Republican candidates had a distinct geographical base, Tonya won all three of them. Overall, Tonya won 53%, Lorence Wenke won 28%, and Larry Deshazor won 19%.

Election Magic-Senate District 20
20th District State Senate race: Battle for seat between Robert Jones and Tonya Schuitmaker looks like a toss-up

Incredibly, Wenke did not win a single precinct of his former district. He didn't get as much as 40% in any of them. Perhaps this shouldn't be so surprising though, as Wenke lost the Kalamazoo County portion of his old district in 2004 and 2006, the last two times he ran for election. Both times he was saved by the Calhoun County portion of the district. He survived by fewer than 100 votes in 2004 after voting against an initiative to correctly define marriage, and won by a few points in 2006. In both cases he beat former Rep. Jerry VanderRoest, outspending him by huge margins. Evidently he remains unpopular in his own district, and was overwhelmed by a candidate who could match him dollar-for-dollar.

Wenke did win six precincts (K Twp 1, Kalamazoo City 3, 8, 14, 17, 23) in the 60 district. He tied Tonya in four others, Cooper 5, K Twp 2, Kalamazoo City 5, 19.

Larry won only four precincts, all in Portage. They are Portage 4, 14, 18, 20. His best showing was 41% in Portage 4.

The Gazette calculates that

In Comstock Township where Wenke runs his greenhouse business, Schuitmaker garnered 56 percent of the vote. In Galesburg, where Wenke lives, she won 43 percent of ballots to Wenke’s 39 percent.

In Portage, where DeShazor served on the city council for five years, Schuitmaker won 41 percent of the vote while 33 percent of ballots cast Tuesday went to DeShazor.

In Texas Township, 23 percent of the Republican primary voters supported DeShazor and 57 percent selected Schuitmaker.
Breaking the results down by state house district, we find the following.

District____ Larry Tonya Wenke
60th district__ 14%__ 51%__ 35%
61st district__ 27%__ 48%__ 25%
63rd district__ 13%__ 55%__ 31%
Van Buren____ 6%__ 74%__ 20%

Why did Tonya do so well? It had to be her endorsements. Virtually all of the prominent local Republicans who made endorsements supported her. They ranged from conservatives like Mary Balkema to moderates like Fred Upton and Al Heilman. Some did not endorse anyone publicly, but several prominent local Republicans privately supported her as well. The only local official who this blog is aware of supporting Larry is county commissioner Tim Rogowski. This blog is not aware of any local officials endorsing Wenke.

Wenke spent a lot of money, but self-funding candidates usually lose, as this blog has discussed before. Larry had little money to spend. He was apparently convinced to run by the Yob faction of the state party against the advice of most of his local supporters. This happened after the Yobs were turned down by Tonya and Wenke for consulting work, which Larry hired them for. Many of Larry's previous supporters were upset by his decision to run for senate after spending so much to elect him to the state house in 2008.

So what next? Tonya faces a tough general election race against Robert Jones, who won the democrat primary. The Gazette article discusses this in more depth. This blog suspects that Lorence Wenke has made his last bid for public office. DeShazor will probably recover from his career suicide, perhaps by returning to the Portage city council after Margaret O'Brien (presumably) wins Larry's district in November.

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