Rep. Mike NOFS (R-Battle Creek) today announced he was forming an exploratory committee in preparation for a suspected run in the 19th Senate seat to replace U.S. Rep.-elect Mark SCHAUER (R-Battle Creek).
Nofs, who will be termed-out of the House at the end of the year, has been accepted among Lansing Republican circles as the GOP's likely consensus candidate in the 19th, although other former Rep. Clark BISBEE has not ruled out a run. On the Democratic side, the two most talked about candidates are Rep. Marty GRIFFIN (D-Jackson) and Rep. Mike SIMPSON (D-Jackson).
Forming an exploratory committee allows Nofs to begin raising money for a senatorial run and allows the moderate Republican to begin clearing the field of primary challengers. He already has stopped by the Senate twice since the Nov. 4 election.
A lot depends on whom the the Dems run for this seat, and both Griffin and Simpson can run from the House and return if they lose. That said, the Dems will probably want to avoid a primary to focus on crunching Nofs. Nofs is a tough candidate, and declares himself a moderate after representing a Battle Creek-based House District since 2003 (and was term-limited in 2008). The 19th District has a weak GOP lean, although it has become increasingly Democratic over the past 2 election cycles. Check out a map below the fold for more on the district.
As the map shows, District 19 covers all of Calhoun County, and the majority of Jackson County, including the city of Jackson.
I would think that Griffin's district might be a better fit for the race, since all of Griffin's house seat is included in the State Senate seat with the exception of Summit Township. In contrast, only half of Mike Simpson's District is in the State Senate District 19, which would likely leave Nofs with a higher ID among voters heading into the race.
Any thoughts on locals familiar with this district? Don't be shy-put your thoughts in the comments.