Thursday, November 08, 2012

2012 Analysis: Kalamazoo

Local elections were very mixed for Kalamazoo County Republicans.  The following results come from

The top of the ticket was tough for Republicans.  Democrats won the Presidential race in Kalamazoo County for the sixth straight time.  Obama and Stabenow got almost the same number of votes, 69045 and 69067.  The difference between Romney  and Hoekstra was the larger number of third party votes in the Senate race.  Romney got 42.9% and Hoekstra got 39.4%.

Congressman Fred Upton won the 6th district by a smaller 55%-42% margin, with 3% going Libertarian and Constitution.  Democrats ran a stronger campaign, and got most of the democrats who previously voted for Upton to support Mike O'Brien.  In Kalamazoo County, Upton won by 11 votes, 58619-58608, (48.66% to 48.65%).

Democrats won all the education board races in the county, as they did statewide.

Mike Perrin lost to Sean McCann in house district 60 25.8%-74.2%. Margaret O'Brien won district 61 58.2%-41.8% against Michael Martin, who did not campaign.  Aric Nesbitt also won the part of the county he picked up in redistricting.

Jase Bolger actually lost the Kalamazoo portion of the 63rd district (47.8%) but won narrowly thanks to Calhoun.  The furor over Roy Schmidt's party switch and dems flogging the issue with half a million in spending almost cost us, but Speaker Bolger held on.

Results for the countywide offices were mixed.  Mary Balkema was the Republican champion.  Her 59866 votes topped Fred Upton.  She beat Grace Borgfjord 53%-47%.  Mary worked her heart out, showing what a candidate needs to do to win countywide.

Tim Snow nearly lost the clerk race to Brian Johnson, winning 50.9%-49.1% thanks to a lackluster campaign.  Ward Lawrence lost to incumbent Sheriff Richard Fuller 44.6%-55.4%. Nasim Ansari lost to incumbent Drain Commissioner Pat Crowley 39.6%-60.4%.  None of the incumbents had done anything to anger the voters.

Scott Pierangeli lost a heartbreaking race 48.6%-51.4% to Jeffrey Getting for the open prosecutor seat vacated by Jeff Fink.  Pierangeli worked very hard and raised a lot of money.  Unfortunately, he failed to make use of information about the real reason why Getting was fired from the prosecutor's office in 1998.  His decision not to go negative probably cost him the election.

In the county commission races, we have
1. Thompson 13.9% Alford 86.1%
2. Buskirk unopposed
3. Dugal 31.1% Taylor 68.9%
4. Weber 32.2% Seals 67.8%
5. Worthams 44.3% Rogers 55.7%
6. Heppler 54% Novak 46%
7. Tuinier 50.9% Crabtree 49.1%
8. Maturen unopposed
9. Iden 53.9% Kildea 46.1%
10. Stinchcomb 52.8% Farrell 47.2%
11. Zull 52.2% Jager 47.8%

The Republicans who won all underperformed 4-5% compared to typical elections.  Much of this was due to a bad environment.  Some was also due to new territory acquired in redistricting, and to a lack of campaigning by Heppler and Zull.  Apparently neither Tuinier nor Crabtree ran strong campaigns.  Iden campaigned much harder than in 2010. He's running for something, and I don't mean county commission.

Julie Rogers won what should have been a Republican district.  She campaigned very hard, raised a lot of money, and had a lot of supporters left from from her two previous runs for state representative.  Her position as a physical therapist was probably more attractive than Dave Worthams' work for the Michigan Bankers Association.

Republicans won a 6-5 majority on the county commission, following their 10-7 majority in 2010.  Republicans got 47557 (45.3%) votes total compared to dems 57400 (54.7%) but were saved by a solid redistricting plan. (Each party had one unopposed candidate, so the results are comparable.)

Most townships are still Republican, while Kalamazoo Township is now solidly democrat.  The two battlegrounds were Oshtemo and Comstock.

In Oshtemo, dem Libby was easily (57%) reelected Supervisor over John Nieuwenhuis.  Republican Deb Everett was narrowly (50.5%) reelected clerk over Jeff Parsons. Republican Nancy Culp won reelection (50.9%) over Grant Taylor.  Dems Larsen, Farmer, and Lutz, and Republican Nancy Carr won the trustee seats.

Parsons, Taylor, Larsen, and Farmer only had signs at vacant corners, and Lutz didn't even have that.  Oshtemo leans dem, at least in presidential years.  Carr had the fewest signs of the four Republicans running.  Could she have won since she was the only woman of the seven running for trustee?  Dems won a 4-3 majority, compared to 4-3 Republican in 2008 (dems would have won then if they had run a full slate).

In Comstock, Republican Ann Nieuwenhuis won 51.6% to dem Randy Thompson's 40% (there were two independents).  Republican clerk Anna Goodsell was narrowly reelected, while dem Brett Padgett won the treasurer's position.  The four trustee positions were run by dems Sandra Bloomfield and David Burgess and Republicans Jeffrey Bogema and Jerry Amos.  Amos was a rare Tea party candidate to win a swing district.  Republicans won a 4-3 majority, following the dems 4-3 majority in 2008.

Lorence Wenke lost his third straight election, this time for Gull Lake school board.  Chelsea Herriman almost won a Portage School Board position.

Republicans have been doing better at campaigning, but there are still several candidates who nearly lost for lack of campaigning.  Republicans were out-fundraised in most races.  Kalamazoo County is tilting democrat, and it will take stronger efforts by the county Republican Party to fight back.

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