Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 Michigan General Election Preview

Cross-posted at The Western Right, Right Michigan, and Red Racing Horses.

This is an overview of competitive November 6 general election races in Michigan in 2012. More detailed profiles of some of the races are linked within the article.

President (Michigan) Leans democrat
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 weak economy thanks to eight years of democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm. Mitt Romney can still win here (current RCP average is Obama +4), but if he does, he's already won elsewhere.

US Senate Likely democrat
Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow is seeking a third term. The Republican nominee is Pete Hoekstra, former congressman who represented the 2nd district in West Michigan 1992-2010. He won a contested primary that sapped resources.  Hoekstra aired a controversial China ad and labeled Stabenow the worst senator ever, but never found support beyond the Republican base.  The RCP average is Stabenow +13.

US House of Representatives
Only a couple 2012 Michigan Congressional Races are competitive.

District 1 (Upper Peninsula, Northern Lower Peninsula) Leans Republican
In 2010, Dr. Dan Benishek won an open seat vacated by democrat Rep. Bart Stupak against democrat state Rep. Gary McDowell 52-41. The new district gets more Republican, adding areas around Traverse City. McDowell is back for a rematch, but Benishek will be difficult to beat as an incumbent.

District 3 (Kent, Calhoun) Likely Republican
Moderate democrat former state rep. Steve Pestka defeated leftist Trevor Thomas, and faces Congressman Justin Amash.  Amash has had some scrapes with Right to Life and the NRA, neither of which endorsed in this race.  Still, the district in Republican enough that it likely won't matter.

District 11 (NW Wayne, SW Oakland, Troy) Safe Republican
Republican Thad McCotter saw the most improvement in his district, trading increasingly democrat suburbs of Detroit in Wayne County for Republican areas of Oakland County. But McCotter's staff committed fraud, leading to his being disqualified and dropping out. Tea Party Republican Kerry Bentivolio won the Republican nomination over write-in candidate former state senator Nancy Cassis. Democrat Canton Township Trustee Taj Syed defeated William Roberts, a "LaRouche democrat".

Michigan Supreme Court Lean Markman/Tossup, Lean Zahra
Conservative Republican Steven Markman was renominated, and Colleen O'Brien was nominated for the seat of age-limited democrat Marilyn Kelly. They face democrat (Irish women) Connie Kelley and Bridget McCormack.  Appointed Republican Brian Zhara is seeking to fill a two years partial term against democrat Sheila Johnson.  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.  On the ballot, races are nonpartisan and incumbents are designated as such.

Education Boards
Two seats on each of four boards will be up. These races usually follow the top of the ticket.  More details here.

Ballot Proposals
1. A referendum on the expanded emergency manager law passed by the legislature last year. The law allows emergency managers in distressed municipalities to rewrite union contracts; opposition comes mainly from public sector unions. Tossup.

2. Unions are behind an effort to amend the state constitution to enshrine mandatory collective bargaining, precluding a Right to Work law. It would also overrule a number of other laws that the unions don't like, including the emergency manager law, pension reform, and more, costing the state billions. Likely fail.

3. Various out-of-state alternative energy companies are behind an initiative to mandate that Michigan get at least 25% of its energy from alternative sources by 2025. Since alternative energy costs more than traditional energy (that's why it's the alternative), this would raise energy prices. Lean fail.

4. The SEIU is behind this proposition take union dues from home health care providers, disguised as a measure to protect the elderly. Tossup.

5. A proposal to require a 2/3 majority in the legislature or statewide vote to raise taxes. It's supported by Tea Party groups and opposed by the government class.  Polling has been all over the place.  Tossup.

6. The Detroit International Bridge Company, owned by Matty Moroun, is funding a proposition to require voter approval for any new bridge to Canada. This would create a roadblock to the Canadian-government funded bridge agreement recently signed by Governor Snyder. Tossup.

Michigan State House
Democrats will probably gain a few seats, but Republicans should retain the majority. Races to watch with fundraising totals: (I=incumbent)
1. (open) Brian Banks (D) may have committed eight felonies and been evicted from his campaign headquarters for not paying rent, but that's not going to stop Detroit from electing him.
23 Somerville (RI) 148K, Boritzki (D) 71K Tossup
25 (open) Clark (R) 74K, Yanez (D) 108K Tossup
39 (open) Kesto (R) 163K, Jackson (D) 54K Lean R
41 (open) Howrylak (R) 79K, Kerwin (D) 59K Lean R
52 Ouimet (RI) 333K, Driskell (D) 179K Lean R
57 Jenkins (RI) 141K, Schmidt (D) 106K Lean R
63 Bolger (RI) 259K, Martin (D) 20K Lean R Democrats have been spending heavily attacking Speaker Bolger for his knowledge of  Roy Schmidt's party-switching scheme.
67 (open) Oesterle (R) 81K, Cochran (D) 102K Tossup
70 Outman (RI) 176K, Huckleberry (D) 78K Lean R
71 Schaughnessy (RI) 199K, Abed 95K Lean R
76 Schmidt (D/RI) 120K, Brinks (D) 106K Safe D Roy Schmidt switched parties at the filing deadline and recruited a patsy to run as a democrat.  The scheme blew up in his face and destroyed his chances of reelection.
84 (open) Dan Grimshaw (R) 29K, Terry Brown (D) 96K Lean D Grimshaw beat embattled incumbent Kurt Damrow in the primary.
85 Glardon (RI) 78K, Ray (D) 20K Lean R
91 Hughes (RI) 199K, Lamonte (D) 125K Lean R
101 Franz (RI) 98K, O'Shea (D) 113K Tossup
106 Pettalia (RI) 129K, Hubbard (D) 55K Lean R
108 McBroom (RI) 113K, Gray (D) 99K Tossup
110 Huuki (RI) 118K, Dianda (D) 97K Tossup

Overall Ratings:
Safe D: 44
Lean D: 1
Tossup: 6
Lean R: 10
Safe R: 49

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