Monday, August 31, 2009

Candidate Filings Michigan State Senate and House

Although the 2010 elections are more than a year away, many candidates are starting to file for a chance to run. I've reviewed the filing data posted at the Michigan Secretary of State's website at the link provided below:
http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127-1633_8723_8751---,00.html

I've linked a Google document of the State House and State Senate candidates that will continually be updated through next May's filing deadline.
https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AtAGGuZPwuifdEtmd2NnMTV0cUhMYWMxbUt1Y01zcVE&hl=en

We have a number of recent filings that will be of interest for the ML community.

Michigan State Senate:
Menhen's excellent analysis written earlier in July provides a good overview for those who are not aware of how important winning this chamber is for the Democrats next year. There are 30 open seats (although Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer is likely running for Attorney General), and getting strong candidates is crucial to winning a seat. Thus far we have the following Republican and Democratic candidates:

District 7 (Status: Swing)
Former Republican John Stewart is running as a Democrat (filed April 20, 2009) for this seat currently held by Republican Bruce Patterson. Expect a number of other candidates to file for this seat. I’m betting on a GOP and DEM primary.

District 14 (Safe Democratic)
Democratic Senator Gilda Jacobs is term-limited from this seat, but don’t expect part-time Republican copy machine operator James Hardin to win this seat (filed March 24, 2009).

District 15 (Strong Republican)
Democratic candidate Pamela Jackson (filed April 1, 2009) is running for Republican Nancy Cassis’ open seat. Given the Republican nature of this district, expect a number of Republican candidates to join Robert Gatt (January 1, 2009) in the primary field.

District 18 (Safe Democratic)
The most Democratic district outside of Detroit is currently Represented by Senator Liz Brater, who is term-limited from running again. Rebekah Warren (filed August 18, 2009) currently represents House District 53, which covers the City of Ann Arbor, and likely has an inside track for this seat. However, Democrat Pam Byrnes might try to run for this seat as well. Whomever wins will crush the Republican candidate three months later.

District 20 (Swing)
This Kalamazoo County-based senate seat is currently held by Republican Tom George, who is term-limited from running again, and is trying his hand at running for governor. The open seat has attracted a great deal of attention from Democrats and Republicans alike, with State Representative Robert Jones (July 20, 2009), County Commissioner John Taylor (June 24, 2009), and Mark Totten (May 20, 2009) throwing their hats in the Democratic primary. On the Republican side State Representative Tonya Shuitmaker (May 18, 2009) and former Representative Lorence Wenke (May 19, 2009) are in, although I’m hoping that Republican firebrand Jacob “Wacko Jacko” Hoogendyk will run as well.

District 21 (Strong Republican)
This southwestern senate districts is currently represented by Republican Ron Jelinek, who is term-limited. Republican State Representative John Proos (District 79) is running for the seat (filed February 9, 2009), and so far has no opposition.

District 22 (Safe Republican)
The second most Republican district in the Senate is currently held by term-limited Valde Garcia. Republican Joe Hune has filed (December 10, 2008) to replace him.

District 24 (Strong Republican)
Represented by moderate Republican Patricia Birkholz, this district is likely to get a more conservative senator if State Representative Rick Jones wins the Republican nomination (filed November 7, 2009). No Democratic candidate has yet filed.

District 25 (Leans Republican)
This district covers Lapeer and St. Clair Counties, and has been represented by Republican Jud Gilbert since 2003. With Gilbert term-limited, Lauren Hager (filed January 22, 2009) and Philip Pavlov (April 23, 2009) are looking for the Republican nomination. Should be an interesting Republican primary.

District 26 (Swing)
This district, held by Democratic Senator Deb Cherry, is a seat that could potentially flip come November 2010. Cherry made winning this seat seem easy in 2002 and 2006, and a strong Republican candidate like David Robertson (January 16, 2009) could make this a competitive race. Robertson was previously State Representative from District 51, a moderate district that was held by a conservative Republican due to his strong campaigning skills. This is a seat that needs a strong Democratic candidate to face off Robertson in November 2010.

District 32 (Swing)
Won by Republican “Raging” Roger Kahn by a narrow margin in 2006, this seat is again certain to be a top Democratic target in 2010. Thus far only Debasish Mridha (July 21, 2009) has filed for this seat.

District 33 (Safe Republican)
Senator Alan L. Cropsey is prevented from running for the Republican nomination again, and Republicans Hong Trebesh (filed April 23, 2009) and Representative Brian Calley (April 30, 2009) are running for the GOP nomination. Expect both candidates to be well-funded and an expensive primary as a result.

District 34 (Swing)
Democratic Representative Mary Valentine (May 8, 2009) and Republican Representative Geoff Hansen (filed January 29, 2009) are running for this seat which will be a race to watch next year. Although Republican Senator Gerald VanWoerkom held on to this district in 2002 and 2006 by narrow margins, Valentine is an incredible campaigner who ran one of the best GOTV efforts in the past two election cycles.

District 35 (Leans Republican)
Three candidates have filed to replace term-limited Republican Senator Michelle McManus: Democratic candidate Roger Dunigan (August 3, 2009), and Republicans Darwin Booher (January 18, 2009) and Timothy Moore (April 28, 2009).

District 36 (Leans Republican)
With Republican Senator Tony Stamas term-limited, Republican Representative John Moonlenaar (June 26, 2008) is running to replace him. Should the Democrats run a strong opponent, this could be a possible competitive race.

District 37 (Leans Republican)
Republican Senator Jason Allen is term-limited from running again, and Representative Howard Walker (Republican April 22, 2009) and Democratic Representative Gary McDowell (August 19, 2009) have filed to replace him. This could be a interesting race, especially if the MDP decides to throw money to support McDowell.

District 38 (Leans Democratic)
Held by Democratic Senator Mike Prusi, this seat has long been eyed by the GOP. Former Republican and 2008 Congressional candidate Tom Casperson (August 10, 2009) is running for this seat. Casperson is a strong candidate, and although the Republicans have never won this seat before, it remains to see what candidates the Democrats run for to replace Prusi

Many competitive seats have not attracted candidates yet, including District 13 (for the Democrats) and District 29.

State House

I’ve posted a table of the State House filings below:

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AtAGGuZPwuifdEtmd2NnMTV0cUhMYWMxbUt1Y01zcVE&hl=en

Many candidates have filed in seats that are either strongly Republican or Democratic. However, some races deserve a special mention:

District 70 (Swing Seat)
First-term Democratic Representative Mike Huckleberry has drawn his first GOP challenger Edward Sternisha (06/23/2009) in a seat that will certainly draw a lot of Republican attention next year. Sternisha has a bare-bones website that notes he is partially done with law school and uses colored text. He also counts meeting GOP folks as endorsements.

District 71 (Swing)
This is Eaton County district is a place where the Democrats have a good chance of making this a competitive race with GOP Representative Rick Jones running for the State Senate (District 24). Two Republican candidates are running, Deb Shaughnessy and Cheryl Lynn-Haddock, while Robert Robinson is looking for the Democratic nomination.

District 91 (Weak Democratic) Ken Punter is running for the GOP nomination in this suburban Muskegon County seat. Whether Holly Hughes attempts to run again as the Republican nominee is another question. No Democratic candidate has emerged yet to replace Valentine.

Many seats that we won by Democrats in the past two election cycles (Districts 1, 20, 21, 24, 39, 64, 65, 75, 101, and 108) have not attract Republican challengers, in part because all 10 Democrats are running to hold their seats. If some of these Representatives receive serious GOP candidates in the next few months, the GOP might make a battle for control of the lower chamber. If not, expect the Dems to win a majority in the State House once again in 2010.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Michigan State Sentate Overview: Part II





Part II: Michigan Political Background

Prior to the American Civil War, Michigan was a solidly Democratic state. Lewis Cass, a powerful Democratic politician from Michigan, served in a number of Democratic Administrations, as well as in United States Senate from 1845-1857 while also serving as the Democratic Presidential nominee in 1848. Michigan’s Democratic roots broke in the 1850s, as Yankee migrants from upstate New York and New England formed a new political alliance built on free labor, free soil, and free men. In 1854 this growing alliance of ex-Whigs and Democrats met in Jackson, Michigan to create the Republican Party, which promptly began dominating Michigan politics.

By 1860 the Republican Party had gained control of the governor’s mansion, as a long-standing alliance between businesses and ethno-cultural groups throughout the state profoundly shaped the state government for years to come. While Democrats made some inroads in the late 1880s and in 1910s, the Republican Party continued to dominate the state, as Progressive reformers worked within the party. Voter loyalty in Michigan was driven by Civil War era politics well into the early 20th century, and only with the arrival of the New Deal coalition in the 1930s did political identity begin to shift, as millions of new residents hailed for portions of the United States with Democratic allegiances. Republican control of the state legislature remained ironclad, as malapportionment insured that Republicans would have large majorities in both chambers. Such malapportionment did not end until the Supreme Court’s Baker v. Carr decision in 1962 mandated “one person, one vote” that required equally populated legislative districts.

Democratic Labor-Left Coalition and GOP Moderation: 1948-1982

Despite continued Republican malapportionment in the state legislature, a resurgent Democratic Party took over the Governor’s office in 1948. A collection of leading intellectuals and labor figures, including Mennen Williams, Walter Reuther, Gus Scholle, Hick Griffiths, and Neil Staeble developed and formed a new Democratic coalition that was built on the growing strength of labor unions and progressive intellectuals. This new coalition appealed to Democrats outside of the traditional Democratic stronghold in Detroit, and sought to build a state-wide Democratic Party. Mennen Williams was elected Governor in 1948, and remained in office until 1960, building a strong Democratic coalition that passed policies that strongly supported labor unions and progressive social policies. Democratic infighting after Williams retirement in 1962 led to Republican George Romney winning the 1962 gubernatorial race, ushering a twenty year period of GOP control of the executive branch. Romney, and his successor William Milliken, pushed good government reform measures that included a new state constitution that ended malapportionment of state legislative districts. With this reform, the state legislature became hotly contested between the two parties, ending 100 years of GOP dominance (see Figure 1).



Democratic divisions continued after 1962. Tensions between labor and liberal groups within the party boiled over in the late 1960s, as tensions over Vietnam and social issues allowed for Milliken to win close elections in the 1970s. The decline of the American automobile industry in the mid-1970s spelled further trouble for the Democratic Party, and the state’s worsening economic condition in the late 1970s ended a nearly thirty year period of genial political cooperation between the two parties in Lansing.

An Era of Partisan Identity: 1982-Present

With the end of William Milliken’s long tenure as Governor, a new era of partisan politics dawned in the state. By the late 1970s the Republican Party moved sharply to the right, as social conservatives and anti-tax activists succeeded in capturing control of the state party. While labor unions continued to decline, Democrats such as Jim Blanchard moved away from the party’s traditional allies, nurturing economic development while pushing through tax increases and user fees to balance a staggering budget deficit early in his tenure. Such political bravery resulted in sharp partisan divisions in the legislature, as anti-tax groups recalled two Democratic State Senators from Macomb County, long considered a bastion of Democratic strength. The politics of economic recovery and social tensions resulted in partisan divisions in the state legislature well through the 1980s and early 1990s, as partisan loyalties among traditional Democratic groups declined.



The election of John Engler in 1990 began a period of Republican domination of the state legislature. Republicans took control of the State House in 1994, and remained in control of the State Senate after the early 1980s, ensuring a receptive audience for Engler’s policy proposals. Engler was not shy about slashing state social programs, cutting taxes, and promoting GOP political domination through the state. Engler served until 2002, just as the good economic times in the state were ending.

Democrat Jennifer Granholm succeed Engler, and has navigated the state’s severe economic slump by working with a Republican controlled state legislature in her first term to find ways to balance the budget while preserving the state’s social net. The state’s finances were preserved by slashing social services, educational spending, and sharply reducing state aid to local governments. By the 2006 election, a sustained sour voting public responded to the state’s woes by reelecting Granholm and giving the Democrats control of the State House, while allowing the Republicans to hold a narrow margin in the State Senate. Fiscal difficulties have continued for the state, with continued battling between the two chambers over dwindling revenues continued economic troubles.

Michigan's economic misfortunes since 1974 have dominated the state's political culture, as the heated political battles of the past three administrations testify.

(Next week: Part III)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Roundup of West Michigan State House filings

Although the 2010 elections are more than a year away, many candidates are starting to file for a chance to run. I've reviewed the filing data posted at the Michigan Secretary of State's website at the link provided below:
http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127-1633_8723_8751---,00.html

I've linked a Google document of the State House and State Senate candidatea that will continually be updated through next May's filing deadline.
https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AtAGGuZPwuifdEtmd2NnMTV0cUhMYWMxbUt1Y01zcVE&hl=en

West Michigan State House Analysis:
Thus far a few filings of interest:

District 60 (Status: Strong Democratic)
As previously mentioned, with Representative Robert Jones running for the 20th State Senate District, Democratic candidate Sean McCann is running for the seat (filed August 3, 2009).

District 70 (Swing Seat)
First-term Democratic Representative Mike Huckleberry has drawn his first GOP challenger Edward Sternisha (06/23/2009) in a seat that will certainly draw a lot of Republican attention next year. Sternisha has a bare-bones website that notes he is partially done with law school and uses colored text. He also counts meeting GOP folks as endorsements.

District 71 (Swing)
This is Eaton County district is a place where the Democrats have a good chance of making this a competitive race with GOP Representative Rick Jones running for the State Senate (District 24). Two Republican candidates are running, Deb Shaughnessy and Cheryl Lynn-Haddock, while Robert Robinson is looking for the Democratic nomination.

District 77 (Safe Republican)
With Republican Representative Kevin Green term-limited from this Wyoming-based seat, Tom Hooker seeks the GOP nomination. On website he currently has one endorsement-from his Baptist Pastor

District 86 (Safe Republican) This district covers the eastern suburbs of Grand Rapids, and is currently represented by Republican David Hildenbrand. While attorney Jordan Bush is expected to run for the GOP nomination, another attorney named Jamie Frain has filed (8/6/2009).

District 87 (Strong Republican) Brain Calley is attempting to run for the State Senate (District 33), and Mike Callton has filed for the Republican nomination (5/6/2009).

District 91 (Weak Democratic) Previously covered yesterday, Ken Punter is running for the GOP nomination in this suburban Muskegon County seat. Whether Holly Hughes attempts to run again as the Republican nominee is another question. No Democratic candidate has emerged yet to replace Valentine.

District 92 (Safe Democratic) With Doug Bennett term-limited, two Democrats are looking to run for the urban Muskegon County seat. Larry McNeill and Marcia Hovey-Wright are both in the ring, with Hovey-Wright considered to be the leading contender.

District 100 (Leans Republican) With Geoff Hansen term-limited and running for the State Senate (District 34), Jane Drake and Jon Bumstead have filed for the GOP nomination.

District 102 (Strong Republican) Republican Darwin Booher is term-limited, and Republicans Linda Howard and Jeremy Mishler are seeking the nod.

Not too much earth shattering news in these filings, but my guess is that there will be a lot more candidates announcing this fall. I would bet that there are going to be some competitive GOP primaries in Districts 70, 73, 77, 86, and 91, while Democrats will likely have competitive primaries in Districts 60 and 92 (both safe Democratic seats). More later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

State House District 91: Ken Punter (R) is running

Not really a WMR concern yet, but with Representative Mary Valentine running for the 34th State Senate seat, this news from Muskegon County via a conservative blog is informative.


Ken Punter of Ravenna has made a pre announcement that he will throw his hat into the ring to run as the Republican nominee for Michigan’s 91st District House Seat. Ken along with his wife Kay made their plans known last night at the monthly Muskegon County Republican meeting.

Kay will be Ken’s help mate in their endeavor. From financial guru to campaign manager; and all the other plethora of things involved in a campaign; this will be a family affair.


Read the whole story here:
http://bottomuppolitics.blogspot.com/2009/08/servant-leadership-for-91st.html

I don't know much about Punter, but the story from BUP sounds like he's a perfect social conservative for the GOP's religious warriors in this district. Yet to be determined in the GOP primary is whether Holly Hughes, the defeated GOP candidate from 2008, will attempt to run again. My bet is that she wants to try again.

The Dems will need to find a candidate that can match Valentine's incredible ground game that made a toss up district appear to be a much more Democratic seat in the past two election cycles. For reference, a Map of District 91 is linked below:


http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn153/pbratt/HouseDistrictMapWM.jpg

I don't know if it has been mentioned on this site before, but Geoff Hansen will likely be Valentine's opponent in the 34th State Senate race. Hansen represented the 100th House District (which covers Newaygo, Oceana and Lake Counties) from 2003 to 2009, and apparently has done a lot of campaign events throughout the 34th, especially in Muskegon County. Given that Muskegon County represents 64% of the district's population, it is a good idea.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Michigan State Senate 2010 Overview: Part I

Introduction

As the state legislative campaigns wound down in late October 2006, most Michigan political experts expected Democrats to gain control of at least one chamber in state legislature. However, the money was on the Democrats picking up seats in the State Senate rather than the State House. After all, the Republican controlled state legislature had effectively gerrymandered many State House districts in 2001 that almost guaranteed GOP control over the next decade. The gerrymandering was less severe in the State Senate, which featured very competitive races in Oakland, Kent, Muskegon, and Wayne Counties. While much attention was focused on the gubernatorial battle between Governor Jennifer Granholm and challenger Dick DeVos, both parties also exerted strong efforts for legislative races.



Yet it was the State House where the Democrats gained a majority in November of 2006. In the lower chamber the Democrats gained six seats that resulted in a 58 to 52 margin in the State House. Democratic lost two close challenges in the State Senate that preserved a slim 21-17 Republican edge for the next four years. In the 6th District Democratic Representative Glenn Anderson beat incumbent senator Laura Toy by a narrow margin. However in the 13th (Oakland County) and 32nd (Saginaw and Gratiot Counties) the Democratic candidates (Andy Levin and Carl Williams) fell to Republicans John Pappageorge and Roger Kohn respectively. Both of these defeats were aided in part by Green Party candidates, who won many more votes than the difference between the two party vote in each district, votes that would very likely have gone to the Democratic candidate. The Democrats also fell short in two races on the west side of the state, with Democratic Representative Alexander Lipsey losing to Republican Senator Tom George in the 20th District (Kalamazoo County), and former Democratic Representative Julie Dennis losing in her effort to knock of incumbent Republican Gerald Van Workom in the 34th District (Muskegon, Mason, Newaygo, and Oceana Counties). In addition, Republican Senator Bill Hardiman held off Democratic challenger David LaGrand in the 29th District (Grand Rapids & Kentwood), despite outspending LaGrand by a 2.5 margin. Of these six narrow races, the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) actively spent money on the first four races, while the Coalition for Progress focused much of its funds in support of Lipsey, Levin, and Anderson. The MDP also spend funds on races in the 7th (western Wayne County), the 17th (Monroe and portions of Jackson and Washtenaw Counties), and the 25th District (Lapeer and St. Clair Counties).

Democratic electoral success continued in 2008, as the party rode on the Obama coattails and hard work on Election Day. With McCain withdrawing resources from the state in early October, Obama won 57.3% of the total vote, and Democratic Senator Carl Levin was reelected with 62.6%. Democrats picked up two Congressional seats (the 7th and the 9th Districts), and further their edge in the State House by gaining 9 seats (and currently hold a 67 to 43 edge in the chamber).

The 2010 election cycle presents new challenges for the Michigan Democratic Party. While Democratic control of the State House is likely to continue after the 2010 elections, the party must defend the open gubernatorial seat through the likely candidacy of Lt. Governor John Cherry. Gaining control of the State Senate is perhaps the most crucial aspect to controlling the redistricting process in 2011, a process that will likely involves the reduction of the state’s congressional delegation from 15 to 14 due to stagnate population growth. In order to gain control of the upper chamber the MDP will need to hold one open seat (Mark Shaurer’s 19th District) and capture three other seats. Should the Democrats gain control of the State Senate, it would be the first time since 1985, ending more than twenty five years of Republican dominance. This post will briefly explore Michigan’s political history before further examining potential 2010 battleground districts in the State Senate.

(Next week Thursday: Part II)