Friday, August 15, 2014

Aaron Miller for State Representative

The biggest surprise of the August primary in Michigan was victory of Aaron Miller for the Republican nomination in the 59th state house district.  The district, which is being vacated by moderate Matt Lori, contains all of St. Joseph County and most of Cass County.

Aaron Miller, John Bippus reflect on Miller's stunning win in Tuesday's 59th State House race

Aaron Miller is a 27-year-old high school math teacher with little political experience won a four-way race with 38%.  The next-closest candidate was John Bippus with 28%.

Miller is an alumnus of the WMU College Republicans, which this blog was formerly associated with.  Another alumnus, Tom Barrett, is running for state house in district 71.

In the August primary, most candidates who raised the most money won.  Miller was a huge exception, as he raised only 11K, the least of the four candidates.  Bippus had raised 169K.

Hard work isn't usually enough by itself to win, but this was the exception.  Miller apparently connected with voters in a way that the other candidates didn't.

This blog endorsed Bippus in the primary, as we didn't think Miller had a chance.  We are happy to be wrong.  Miller is a strong Christian conservative who is honest and intelligent.  He deserves support in the general election.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lessons from the Primary Election

They don't call it the establishment for nothing  Establishment candidates won many races.  They have the inside track on fundraising, endorsements, and organization.  Notably, several winning conservatives, including Lana Theis, Jim Runestad, Jason Sheppard, and Triston Cole had substantial establishment support.

Be the establishment  One answer to this is to become the establishment.  Lana Theis and Triston Cole are both former county party chairs.  It takes time to build political connections, but it pays off eventually.

Experience counts  Elected experience is valuable for winning candidates.  Lana Theis, Jim Runestad, Jason Sheppard, and Gary Glenn have all been elected to local office.

If at first you don't succeed  Tom Barrett, Todd Courser, and Triston Cole have all lost elections before, but gained valuable experience in the process.  This time, they won their primaries.  Candidates who lost this time should look for opportunities to run again in the future.

Build a brand  Lana Theis, Gary Glenn, Cindy Gamrat, and Todd Courser are known across Michigan for advocating conservative causes.  This provides a larger fundraising base to tap when you run for office.

Don't Ignore Social Issues  In recent years, conservatives have shifted much more emphasis to fiscal issues.  While these issues are vitally important, conservative candidates should not ignore social issues.  Notably, three conservative victors, Todd Courser, Gary Glenn, and Lee Chatfield, are all known as strong defenders of traditional marriage.

Don't split the vote  In several districts (45, 47, 58, 73, 104), several conservative candidates split the vote and allowed a more moderate candidate to win.  Conservatives who care more about the cause than themselves should meet and agree on one candidate to support.

Money doesn't buy elections  Self-funding candidates have a bad electoral track record.  Notably, Paul Mitchell and Brian Ellis, who both spent millions of their own money trying to get elected to Congress, lost handily.  Self-funder David Trott did win, but that had more to do with Kerry Bentivolio's weak campaign.

Money is essential  This does not contradict the previous point.  Money does not guarantee victory, but it is essential to get your message out.  This is particularly true in local elections, which are often decided by name recognition.

Look at how much winning conservative candidates raised.  Lana Theis raised 80K.  Jim Runestad raised 82K.  Jason Sheppard raised 36K.  Tom Barrett raised 55K.  Cindy Gamrat raised 39K.  Gary Glenn raised 171K.  Triston Cole raised 37K.  The only Republican to defeat a state house incumbent, Lee Chatfield, raised 74K.

The candidate who raised the most money won in 18 of 21 primaries in open Republican seats.  With one exception, the lowest amount raised by any successful Republican primary winner in a winnable district was Todd Courser's 27K.  A Republican candidate for state house who isn't willing to raise (or self-fund) at least $30,000 is usually only going to waste everyone's time.

Exceptions are exceptional  There is one huge exception to the above points.  In district 59, Aaron Miller, a 27-year-old Christian conservative teacher with little political experience who raised only 11K won with 38% of the vote in a four-candidate field.  So it is possible for a candidate who works hard to catch on with voters without the usual advantages.  But it definitely isn't the way to bet, and it shouldn't be an excuse to ignore the usual path to victory.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

2014 August Primary Election Results

Prop 1 (tax changes) wins easily 69-31.

1. Benishek wins 70-30.  Alan Arcand needs to fire his pollster.
3. Amash wins 57-43.  Probably not enough to scare away future primary challengers.
4. Moolenaar wins 52-36-11.  Never underestimate the Midland establishment.  I rated this a tossup when Mitchell led by 23.  Good to have another Dutchman in Congress ;)
6. Bussler gets 29% against Upton, confirming my suspicion that about 30% is the anti-Upton baseline in the GOP primary.
8. Bishop wins 60-40. No shock.  Schertzing survives a scare 43-38 in the dem primary.
11. David Trott wins 66-34 after Bentivolio ran a terrible campaign.  McKenzie barely wins dem primary 34-32.  Safe R.
13. Conyers wins 75-25.  Being on the ballot helps.
14. Brenda Lawrence wins 36-32-31 over Hobbs and Clarke.

Michigan State Senate:
2 (D) Johnson wins easily 63-22.
4 (D) Smith holds off Tlaib 52-41 after the race was initially miscalled.
5 (D) Knezek (white dem) leads Jackson (pro-life) 29-25.
11 (D) Gregory wins by 117 votes, 35-34-31.
13 (R) Knollenberg wins by 72 votes over Rocky and Moss 36-36-20.  Good.
13 (D) Ryan Fishman raised 211K and lost 55-45 to Cyndi Peltonen, who raised 7K.  Hahahaha!  Move to Safe R.
15 (R) Mike Kowall holds off Matt Maddock by a relatively narrow 50-43.
20 (R) Margaret O'Brien wins 77-23.
28 (R) MacGregor beats Green 68-32.
31 (R) Mike Green beats Kevin Daley 49-46.
32 (D) Oakes beats Lewis 62-38.
34 (R) Hansen beats Sundquist 62-38.
37 (R) Schmidt beats MacMaster 55-45.  Boo.  MacMaster only won Cheboygan County.

Michigan State House:
1 (D) Felon Brian Banks wins 43-36.
19 (R) Laura Cox wins easily 73-27.
36 (R) Lucido beats Grot 51-49.  UAW wins.
38 (R) Crawford beats Lauffer 59-41.
39 (R) Kesto holds off O'Hagan 55-39.
42 (R) Lana Theis beats Rich Perlberg 50-26.  Good.
43 (R) Tedder beats Schroeder and Aliaga 31-29-22.
44 (R) Runestad wins 36-33.  Good.
45 (R) Webber beats Avery 46-43.
46 (R) Jacobsen holds off John Reilly 56-44.
47 (R) Vaupel beats Day 42-37.
56 (R) Sheppard beats Kubiske 67-33.  Good.
58 (R) Eric Leutheuser win with 34%.
59 (R) Aaron Miller wins with 38%.  Complete shock.  Miller is a 27-year-old teacher and distant friend of mine.
60 (D) Jon Hoadley beats David Buskirk 59-27.  Gay beats union.
61 (R) Iden beats Stinchcomb 55-45.
62 (R) Bizon beats Kale 55-45. (D) Helmboldt wins with 39%.
63 (R) Maturen beats Potter 53-47.
65 (R) Roberts wins with 26%.
73 (R) Afendoulis wins with 36%.
76 (R) DeJonge beats Allard 44-37.
79 (R) Pscholka holds off Duran 66-34.
80 (R) Cindy Gamrat wins 42-29-25 with most in.  Good.
82 (R) Todd Courser beats Jan Peabody 37-33.
84 (R) Canfield wins with 31%.
86 (R) Lyons holds off Rigas 71-29.
90 (R) Garcia beats Haveman 50-30.
95 (D) Guerra beats Braddock 58-42.
98 (R) Gary Glenn beats Karl Ieuter 51-49.  Good.
104 (R) Larry Inman wins with 21%.
105 (R) Triston Cole romps 63-29.  Good.
107 (R) Lee Chatfield beats incumbent Frank Foster 54-46.  Big win for conservatives.

Wayne County Executive:
Warren Evans wins with 46%.  William Wild second with 24%.  Incumbent Robert Ficano finished fifth with only 6%.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

2014 Michigan August Primary Preview

Michigan has no contested statewide primaries on the ballot on August 5.  Governor Rick Snyder and his democrat challenger Mark Schauer are unopposed.  So are US Senate candidates Terri Lynn Land and Gary Peters.  But there is plenty of action further down the ballot.  Polls close at 8PM Eastern except in the extreme western UP.

Results: SOS AP Election Magic

2014 Michigan Congressional Races
MI-1 (R) (Lean Benishek) In 2010, Dr. Dan Benishek won an open seat vacated by democrat Rep. Bart Stupak against democrat state Rep. Gary McDowell 52-41 and won the rematch 48.1-47.6 in 2012.  Benishek has generally voted with the leadership, displeasing some of his former Tea Party supporters.  He is being challenged by Tea Partyer Alan Arcand, who was seen as a longshot, but recently released a poll claiming that he leads 56-44.

MI-3 (R) (Likely Amash) Republican state rep. Justin Amash won the primary to replace moderate Republican Vern Ehlers, in 2010. He won 60-37 in 2010 and 53-44 in 2012 over former state rep Steve Pestka. Amash is a libertarian in the mold of Rep. Ron Paul. He has stepped on some toes in Washington, most notably getting into spats with the NRA and Michigan Right to Life.  He is being challenged in the primary by moderate businessman Brian Ellis, who has significant self-funding and support from the Chamber of Commerce.  Amash has support from AFP and Club for Growth.  A recent poll showed Amash leading 51-31.

MI-4 (R) (Tossup) Republican Dave Camp, who has been winning big margins in this district since 1990, is retiring.  Conservative state senator John Moolenaar of Midland and self-funding businessman Paul Mitchell are running.  Mitchell attacked Moolenaar (somewhat dishonestly) from the right, and spent his way to an early lead.  But Moolenaar has the support of the Midland establishment (including Camp and AG Bill Schuette), national conservatives such as Mike Lee and Rick Santorum, and Michigan Right to Life and NRA.  Recent polls have shown the race a tie.  Tea Party candidate Peter Konetchy, a businessman from Roscommon who ran for Senate in 2012, had announced a primary challenge to Camp, but has not attracted much support.

MI-6 (R) (Safe Upton) Moderate Republican Fred Upton is being challenged by libertarian Jim Bussler, who has not attracted much support.

MI-8 (R) (Lean Bishop) Republican Mike Rogers, who has won big margins since 2000, announced his retirement late in the cycle.  Former state senator Mike Bishop of NE Oakland is running. Tea Party favorite state rep. Tom McMillin announced that he will run for this seat rather than state senate.  Both are from Rochester Hills.
(D) (Likely Schertzing)  Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing is the preferred democrat candidate.  State demographer Ken Darga, CMU Professor Susan Grettenberger, and Jeffrey Hank are also running.

MI-11 (R)  (Lean Trott) Tea Party Republican Kerry Bentivolio became an "accidental congressman" in 2012 after incumbent Thad McCotter was disqualified in a petition fraud scandal. A coalition of establishment Republicans endorsed a write-in campaign by former state senator Nancy Cassis, but Bentivolio won 65-35.  He defeated democrat Canton Township Trustee Taj Syed 50.8-44.4.  Since then, Bentivolio has mostly kept his head down and voted a conservative line.  He is being challenged in the primary by foreclosure lawyer David Trott, who has the support of the Oakland County establishment.  Bentivolio has run a weak campaign and seems likely to lose.
(D) (Lean McKenzie) Democrats Bobby McKenzie, Nancy SkinnerAnil Kumar, and LaRouchie Bill Roberts are running.

MI-12 (D)  (Safe Dingell) Democrat John Dingell, in Congress for over 58 years since Eisenhower's first term, is finally retiring.  Dingell's wife Debbie Dingell is running to succeed him.  Attorney Ray Mullins is also running.

MI-13 (D) (Lean Conyers) This district has been represented by democrat John Conyers since 1964. Conyers' image has been tarnished since his wife Monica, formerly Detroit city council president, pled guilty to bribery and served time in federal prison.  Conyers won the 2012 primary 55% to 18% for Glenn Anderson, 13% for Shanelle Jackson, and 10% for Bert Johnson.  Conyers was nearly disqualified due to having signature gatherers who were not registered to vote, but a judge ordered him back on the ballot.  He is being challenged this year by Pastor Horace Sheffield, who has his own ethical problems.

MI-14 (D)  (Lean Clarke) This district had an interesting primary in 2012.  Congressman Gary Peters, first elected in 2008, ran here after his old 9th district was split into four pieces.  Peters did very well in endorsements and fundraising, and he won this majority black district 47-35-13 over fellow Congressman Hansen Clarke and Southfield mayor Brenda Lawrence.  Peters is now running for Senate, so the district is open.  Lawrence, state rep. Rudy Hobbs, Clarke, and Burgess Foster are running.  Hobbs has led in fundraising and endorsements but struggled to turn this into votes.  Clarke has a base of support in Detroit.

2014 Michigan State Senate Elections
All 38 Michigan state senate seats are up for election.  Ten seats are open, and several others have competitive primary challenges.
2. (D) (Safe Johnson) Bert Johnson is safe against dem-turned-independent John Olumba and several others.
4. (D) (Lean Smith) Virgil Smith is being challenged by Rep. Rashida Tlaib in the primary.  Smith has advantages in incumbency, geography, and race, but Tlaib has better fundraising.
5. (D) (Lean Knezek) State reps. David Nathan, David Knezek, Thomas Stallworth, and former rep. Shanelle Jackson are competing here.  Knezek, the only white rep, seems to have the edge based on fundraising.  Jackson is pro-life.
11. (D) (Lean Gregory) Vincent Gregory is a black democrat representing the dem areas of southern Oakland.  He had announced a run for Congress in the 14th district, but dropped out to seek reelection.  Two term-limited state reps, Vicki Barnett and Ellen Cogen Lipton, had announced for the open seat; both are staying in the race.
13. (R) (Tossup) Three former state reps are running for the seat of John Pappageorge.  Chuck Moss (Bloomfield Hills, 2006-2012) is an establishment favorite, but represents are fairly small part of the district.  Marty Knollenberg (Troy, 2006-2012), the son of former Congressman Joe Knollenberg, lost races for Oakland Treasurer (2012) and Troy Mayor (2013).  Rocky Raczkowski represented a completely different district (Farmington, 1996-2002) before moving to Troy.  He lost races for US Senate (2002) and Congress (2010), but has the support of Pappageorge.
(D) (Likely Fishman) Ryan Fishman, a 25-year-old lawyer who claims to be a former Republican, has strong fundraising and is favored over Cyndi Peltonen.
15. (R) (Likely Kowall) Mike Kowall is being challenged by Tea Party candidate Matt Maddock.
28. (R) (Likely MacGregor) Mark Jansen is term-limited here.  Peter MacGregor is a state rep (2010-2014) from North Kent.  Kevin Green was a state rep (2004-2010) from Wyoming.
31. (R) (Lean Green) Mike Green is the strongest gun rights advocate in the state senate.  He voted against Right to Work, likely for political reasons in this union-friendly district. He will face a primary against conservative state rep. Kevin Daley.
32. (D) (Lean Oakes) Stacy Erwin Oakes, a black state rep (2010-2014) from Saginaw, will battle Garnet Lewis, a white progressive lesbian for the democrat nomination.
37. (R) (Lean MacMaster) Howard Walker unexpectedly retired, opening up this district.  Two Republican state reps elected in 2010, conservative Greg MacMaster (2010-2014) and moderate Wayne Schmidt (2008-2014, Grand Traverse) are running.  Schmidt has huge fundraising, but MacMaster has more endorsements and grassroots support.

2014 Michigan State House Races
There are 40 open seats in the Michigan state house due to term limits.  There are also many primary challenges by Tea Party candidates against incumbent Republicans and democrat primaries against incumbents in Detroit.  There are way to many to list here; see the post for a complete rundown.

Proposal 1 (Tossup) This proposal, which was put on the ballot by the legislature, would repeal the "Personal Property Tax", which is a tax on business equipment.  It would be replaced by other taxes.  The proposal has institutional support across the political spectrum, but voter confusion could lead to its defeat.

Wayne County Executive (Tossup) Wayne CE Robert Ficano has been plagued by scandals and is highly unpopular.  He faces eleven (!) challengers.  Former Sheriff Warren Evans has the support of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.  Westland Mayor William Wild has the support of the business community.  The other credible candidates are state rep. Phil Cavanaugh and Wayne County Commissioner Kevin McNamara, son of the infamous Ed McNamara.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Jim Lefler for Oshtemo Trustee

In the special election for Oshtemo Trustee, Jim Lefler is the clear choice.

Oshtemo Trustees are elected to four year terms in presidential years.  David Bushouse was a trustee for 16 years who was narrowly defeated in 2012.  Shortly after the election, one of the winning candidates resigned, and Bushouse was appointed to fill the vacancy until a 2014 special election.

Bushouse is nominally a Republican, but he has never had any involvement with the local Republican party.  His record as a trustee does not clearly distinguish him from the democrats.

There are several serious issues with how the incumbent trustees are managing the township.

1. They pushed through a special assessment for additional police protection but never negotiated an agreement with the Sheriff.  Thus we are not receiving the additional protection that we are being assessed for.

2. They have a fund balance on hand that is far higher than what is appropriate for sound fiscal management.

3. They created a "Downtown Development Authority" that collects money but so far has done nothing but buy a defunct gas station at Stadium and 9th and do nothing with it.

4. They are now trying to create another authority along the Drake Road corridor that would collect tax money and do who knows what with it.

The existing board in Oshtemo is widely disliked by other local government officials.  They are mismanaging taxpayers' money.  Dave Bushouse has been on the board for 18 years and he will not be part of the solution.

Jim Lefler is a smart, fearless conservative who will shake up the existing clique on the Oshtemo board.  He has significant financial experience in business.  He is the leader of the VanKal Tea Party Patriots and is active in the Kalamazoo GOP.  He deserves the support of conservatives on August 5.