Monday, March 11, 2013

Carl Levin Out, Many Interested

After 36 years in the Senate, 87-year-old democrat senator Carl Levin is finally retiring.  Levin has amassed a long and terrible record that this blog only partially chronicled back in 2008.

The Carl Levin Record

Michigan is pretty democrat in Presidential years, but leans Republican in midterms.  Still, the last time Michigan Republicans defeated an incumbent democrat senator was 1952.  While we had essentially no chance of beating Levin, this open seat is a prime opportunity.

On the democrat side, Congressman Gary Peters seems to have the first right of refusal.  Peters was a state senator in a safe district (Southfield, Pontiac).  He lost the race for AG in 2002 to Mike Cox.  Most pundits had expected Peters to beat Cox, who had never run for office before.  In 2008, Peters defeated Republican Congressman Joe Knollenberg.  Knollenberg was a longtime incumbent, but his district was swingy and 2008 was a very democrat year.  Peters survived against a flawed Republican candidate in 2010 and beat democrat Congressman Hansen Clarke in the primary for a redrawn black-majority seat in 2012.

Peters is smart and a hard worker, but not at all inspiring.  He is pretty much a generic democrat.  He has said that he is "seriously considering" the race.

If Peters passed, democrats would be back to their usual bench (Dan Kildee, Mark Schauer, Mark Hackell, Gretchen Whitmer, Joscelyn Benson).  Debbie Dingell, wife of 86-year-old congressman John Dingell, has also expressed interest.

On the Republican side, many Republicans quickly took themselves out of consideration.  These include Bill Schuette, Brian Calley, Candice Miller, Mike Cox, and Clark Durant.  On the Republican bench, the only people I see who would have an even chance or better against Peters are Schuette, Miller, Cox, SOS Ruth Johnson, former SOS Terri Land, and Congressman Mike Rogers.  Land and Rogers have both expressed interest.

Land was the Kent County Clerk before being elected Secretary of State in 2002 (a good Republican year) and 2006 (a bad year).  Land performed well in these elections, but faced fairly weak opponents.  She also was Mike Bouchard's choice for LG when he finished fourth in the 2010 gubernatorial primary.  It's hard to predict how she would fare running for a legislative seat.  Also, her positions on many issues aren't known beyond generalities.

Rogers was a state senator from Livingston County when he won a very tight race for Congress in 2000.  He has not had any tough races since.  He wins big margins, sometimes even winning Ingham County.  His ratings are ACU 90%, Heritage Action 54%, Club for Growth 74%.

Also interested is Congressman Justin Amash from the Grand Rapids area.  Amash is the most libertarian member of the house now that Ron Paul has retired, and is also a favorite of the Tea Party.  His ratings are ACU 88%, Heritage Action 91%, Club for Growth 100%.  Amash is likely too far to the right to win stateside, unless democrats nominate a terrible candidate like Geoffrey Feiger.  He won a split primary a split primary in 2010 and beat two credible democrat candidates, Pat Miles and Steve Pestka by 22% and 12% in the last two cycles.  In his first term, he got into preventable scrapes with Right to Life and the NRA, folks he would need to win statewide.

Also interested in the seat are
  • State senator Roger Khan of Saginaw
  • Scott Romney (Mitt's brother), former MSU trustee
  • Former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzius
  • State representative Peter Lund of Shelby Township in Macomb
All of them have some pretty serious drawbacks as candidates.  For example, Khan (ACU 78%) is a fiscal liberal who is advocating raising gas taxes and who helped to protect SEIU's ripoff of home health care workers.  It seems unlikely that most of them would run, or have much impact if they did, unless Rogers and Land both passed on the race.

This open seat is a big opportunity for Michigan Republicans.  We need to make the most of it.

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