Saturday, May 05, 2018

2018 Kalamazoo County Commission Races

This post was last updated August 20, 2018.

Democrats won a 6-5 majorities on the Kalamazoo County Commission in 2014 and 2016, which were generally good years for Republicans.  There were three open seats on 2016, and there is one (district 2) this year.

The following post has detailed descriptions of the districts and their political leanings. The numbers given are the percentage the Republican county commission candidate got in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and Ruth Johnson's (2010), Mitt Romney (2012) and Donald Trump (2016) percentages.  Incumbents are marked below with asterisks.

Kalamazoo County Commission Districts.

List of Kalamazoo County Candidates

District 1 [N Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R12: 13.9 R14: 0 R16: 19 Johnson: 20.3 Romney: 13.5 Trump: 14.9
Democrat: Stephanie Moore*
Republican: Ronald Olson
Stephanie Moore replaced Carolyn Alford in 2014 in this majority minority district.  Moore was a Kalamazoo city commissioner and has been convicted of several crimes over the years.  She allied with Republicans to make Dale Shugars the board chairman for one year and became chair for 2018 herself.

District 2 [SE Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R12: 0 R14: 29.5 R16: 27.5 Johnson: 33.4 Romney: 28.1 Trump: 25.1
Democrat: Paul Haag
Republican: none
Incumbent Kevin Wordelman, a union organizer at WMU, won this seat vacated by David Buskirk in 2014.  He is retiring this year.

District 3 [SW Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R12: 31.1 R14: 32.3 R16: 29.7 Johnson: 37.2 Romney: 30.1 Trump: 28
Democrat: Tracy Hall*
Republican: Charley Coss
Hall was elected in 2016, replacing John Taylor.  Hall was previously a candidate for Kalamazoo city commission in 2013.  Coss is running again after losing in 2016.

District 4 [Kalamazoo Twp, Parchment] Safe Democrat
R12: 32.2 R14: 0 R16: 0 Johnson: 41.8 Romney: 31.7 Trump: 30
Democrat: Michael Seals*, Shequita Lewis
Republican: none
Seals defeated fellow democrat commissioner (02-10) Franklin Thompson in 2010.  This year, he barely survived a primary challenge from Shequita Lewis, who was backed by Stephanie Moore.

District 5 [Alamo, N Oshtemo, NW Kalamazoo Twp] Safe Democrat
R12: 44.3 R14: 44.7 R16: 43.7 Johnson: 56.9 Romney: 47.2 Trump: 45.8
Democrat: Julie Rogers*
Republican: Chad Dillon
Rogers won this competiive seat in 2012.  Dillon, a staffer for Congressman Fred Upton, is running again.

District 6 [Cooper, Richland, Ross] Safe Republican
R12: 54 R14: 100 R16: 77 Johnson: 62.9 Romney: 54.7 Trump: 56.4
Democrat: none
Republican: Ron Kendall*
Kendall, a staffer for state rep. Tom Barrett (14-P) of Eaton County, succeeded Jeff Heppler in 2016.  He beat Vince Carahaly, a moderate businessman, and Frank Brooks, a passionate Trump supporter, 39-35-26 in the primary.

District 7 [Comstock, Galesburg, Charleston, Climax, Wakeshma] Safe Republican
R12: 50.9 R14: 54.9 R16: 56.8 Johnson: 59.3 Romney: 50.6 Trump: 56.7
Democrat: none
Republican: Roger Tuinier*
Tuinier, who is a greenhouse owner, barely defeated Leroy Crabtree in 2012.  He beat David Burgess, a Comstock Township Trustee, in 2014, and Pat Clark, a Climax Village Trustee, in 2016.

District 8 [Pavillion, Brady, Schoolcraft, Prairie Ronde] Safe Republican
R12: 100 R14: 61 R16: 100 Johnson: 63.5 Romney: 55.1 Trump: 60
Democrat: Cody Dekker
Republican: John Gisler*, Kraig Lee
Commissioner John Gisler was elected in 2010 but deferred to fellow commissioner (02-12) David Maturen in the 2012 Republican primary due to redistricting.  Gisler returned in 2014 when Maturen was elected to the state house.  Gisler defeated Kraig Lee, a union democrat in disguise, in the primary this year.

District 9 [Texas, SE Oshtemo] Likely Republican
R12: 53.9 R14: 61.3 R16: 54.6 Johnson: 62.5 Romney: 51.7 Trump: 47.6
Democrat: Christine Morse
Republican: Dale Shugars*
Shugars, a conservative former state senator (94-02) and state rep (90-94), was elected to the commission in 2014, succeeding Brandt Iden.  He was board chairman in 2017 thanks to a deal with democrat Stephanie Moore.

District 10 [W Portage] Lean democrat
R12: 52.8 R14: 49.6 R16: 49.8 Johnson: 58.8 Romney: 49.4 Trump: 45.2
Democrat: Michael Quinn*
Republican: Steve Carra, Nasim Ansari
Quinn was a commissioner 2008-2010.  Following R Phil Stinchcomb (10-12) and D Larry Provancher (95-02, 14-16), Quinn returned.  Carra, a staffer for state rep Steven Johnson (16-P) of Allegan County and secretary of the Kalamazoo GOP, defeated Ansari, a county commissioner (02-12) and Portage city commissioner (13-17) who lost a race for mayor of Portage in 2017, in the primary.

District 11 [E Portage] Tossup
R12: 52.5 R14: 54.2 R16: 52.5 Johnson: 56.5 Romney: 47.5 Trump: 46.9
Democrat: Meredith Place
Republican: Scott McGraw*
McGraw succeed John Zull (00-14).  McGraw formerly worked for the Kalamazoo Homebuilders Association and is now Chairman of the Kalamazoo GOP.  Place is the wife of former commissioner (02-16) and democrat party chairman John Taylor.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Primary Recommendations for Michigan State Senate

Every seat in the Michigan state senate is up for election in 2018, and the majority of seats are open due to term limits.  The senate has been run by more moderate Republicans, who have obstructed more conservative legislation passed in the state house.  How conservative the senate is for the next four years will be determined by Republican primaries in August.  Here are my recommendations for who to support in those primaries.

Recommended candidates are in bold.  Their voting records can be found at

7. State rep Laura Cox is an establishment conservative who is a strong candidate in a vulnerable district.  She is unopposed.
8. State rep Peter Lucido is a mixed bag who opposed Proposal 1 and an increased gas tax but also opposed right to work and electric choice and supported Hollywood subsidies.  He faces former state rep Ken Goike, who opposed right to work, Common Core, Medicaid expansion, Proposal 1, and Hollywood subsidies, and supported a gas tax increase and electric choice.
10. Dr. Michael MacDonald seems to be the most credible candidate in a weak field.  Michael Shallal has a history of questionable statements, and Joseph Bogdan is running a gadfly campaign.
12. State rep Jim Tedder is more conservative than average in the state house, opposing Hollywood subsidies and supporting an income tax cut, constitutional carry, and pension reform.  He faces moderate state rep Michael McCready, who supported Common Core, Medicaid expansion, Proposal 1, Hollywood subsidies and opposed an income tax cut, constitutional carry and pension reform.  Vernon Molnar and Terry Whitney are also running.
14. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has a solid conservative record in office.  She faces Katherine Houston in her bid to move down to the state senate.
15. State rep Jim Runestad is a conservative hero who voted against Proposal 1 and an increased gas tax.  Runestad has fundraised very well, and moderate former state rep Hugh Crawford dropped out of the race to seek reelection to the Oakland County Commission.  Michael Saari unofficially dropped out of the race after making inflammatory comments, but remains on the ballot.
19. State rep Dr. John Bizon has a somewhat moderate record, yet he opposed Hollywood subsidies and FoxConn subsidies and supported electric choice.  Former state rep Mike Callton has a liberal record, supporting Hollywood subsidies and opposing electric choice.  Significantly, Callton represented a safely Republican district, while Bizon represents the most democratic district held by a Republican.  Thus there is a chance that Bizon would vote more conservative in a safer district, while we have no reason to expect any better from Callton.
21. State rep Kim LaSata is an average conservative, supporting an income tax cut, constitutional carry, and pension reform.  She faces state rep Dave Pagel, who is one of the most liberal republicans in the state house, having supported Common Core, Medicaid expansion, and Proposal 1 and opposed electric choice, an income tax cut, constitutional carry, and pension reform.
22. State rep Lana Theis is a conservative star who opposed Proposal 1 and the gas tax increase.  She faces Joseph Converse Marinaro, who is running a gadfly campaign.
24. State rep Tom Barrett is a solid conservative who supported electric choice, an income tax cut, pension reform, and auto insurance reform, and opposed FoxConn subsidies.  He faces state rep Brett Roberts, who opposed electric choice, an income tax cut, pension reform, and auto insurance reform, and supported FoxConn subsidies.  Roberts has never been endorsed by Right to Life and represents only a small part of the district.
25. State rep Dan Lauwers, an average Republican, is unopposed for this seat.
26. State rep Bob Genetski is a solid conservative who was regularly rated most conservative in the state house.  He faces state rep Aric Nesbitt, an average Republican who supported Common Core and opposed electric choice.
29. State rep Chris Afendoulis has a moderate voting record, but is the only candidate running a serious campaign in a very vulnerable district.  Daniel Oesch has filed a reporting waiver.
30. This is traditionally the most Republican district in Michigan, but it has a history of electing relative moderates.  Three state reps are competing here.  Daniela Garcia has a very moderate record, opposing electric choice, an income tax cut, and auto insurance reform.  Her predecessor, Joe Haveman, is little better, voting for Medicaid expansion and Proposal 1.  Roger Victory is a more average Republican, who voted against Medicaid expansion and electric choice and for Proposal 1, an income tax cut, and auto insurance reform.  A better choice is conservative activist Rett DeBoer, who has volunteered for President Trump and Pat Colbeck.
31. State rep Gary Glenn is a conservative hero in the state house, opposing Proposal 1 and the gas tax and supporting electric choice.  He faces state rep Kevin Daley, who supported Proposal 1.
33. Former state rep Rick Outman is an average Republican who supported Common Core and Proposal 1 and opposed Medicaid expansion and electric choice.  He faces former state house candidate Greg Alexander.
34. State rep John Bumstead is somewhat more conservative here, voting against Common Core, Medicaid expansion, Proposal 1, and for increased speed limits and electric choice.  He faces state rep Holly Hughes, who opposed increased speed limits and electric choice.
35. State rep Ray Franz is a solid conservative who opposed Proposal 1.  He faces average Republican state rep Bruce Rendon, who supported Proposal 1, and state rep Curt VanderWall, who supported FoxConn subsidies.
37. Teacher Jim Gurr is running an uphill primary challenge to state senator Wayne Schmidt, who supported Proposal 1, Common Core, Medicaid expansion, the Amazon tax, increased gas tax, and FoxConn subsidies and opposed electric choice.  He also introduced legislation to legalize red light cameras.
38. State rep Ed McBroom is somewhat moderate, but has weak fundraising so far.  Mike Carey is a moderate with significant self-funding.  This district is vulnerable, as moderate democrat state rep Scott Dianda is running.

The Michigan state senate currently has two solid conservatives (Pat Colbeck and Joe Hune). This year, two (Runestad and Theis) are near certain to win, and four others (Barrett, Genetski, Glenn, and Franz) have decent chances to win.  Conservative donor looking to maximize their impact should support those four, and perhaps Tedder, LaSata, and DeBoer.