All 38 seats in the Michigan Senate are up for election in 2014. Republicans currently have a 27-11 supermajority, and have controlled the senate since 1983. Republican control of the state senate has prevented democrats from complete control of Michigan’s government in some years, and stopped a lot of bad things from being passed.
Fortunately for Republicans, the Michigan state senate is up only in midterms, which usually favor Republicans much more than presidential years. Republicans had a good year in 2014, picking up one state senate seat, following four pickups in 2010.
The 2010 redistricting produced a map that was moderately pro-Republican, while complying with all relevant laws.
There are 26 open seats due to term-limits, 7 D and 19 R. All current state senators are former state representatives except three (Colbeck, Conyers, Hertel). Next year, three Detroit-based districts will have senators with no house experience.
For the past few years, the state senate has been more moderate than the state house. This cycle, several ideologically split Republican primaries resulted in a state senate that will be slightly more conservative than before.
I have included election data for the 2014 state senate election, and McCain (2008), Romney (2012), and Trump (2016) results in each district. More data is available from Republican Michigander and RRH Elections.
The McCain numbers look terrible for Republicans because he collapsed after publicly pulling out of Michigan. The largest McCain percentage in any Michigan state senate district won by a democrat in the past twelve years is 46.2% in (old) district 31.
Here is a breakdown of the individual races. State reps years in office are listed after their names, with P meaning present.
What can we learn from the 2018 primary elections? This article explains what the winning candidates had in common. I wrote similar articles in 2014 and 2016.
They don’t call it the establishment for nothing Establishment candidates won virtually all state senate races and most state house races. They have the inside track on fundraising, endorsements, and organization.
The moderate wing of the party was hammered, with David Maturen losing renomination, and Kathy Crawford narrowly surviving. Daniela Garcia, Dave Pagel, Brett Roberts, Mike Callton, and Joe Haveman lost state senate primaries. Only Chris Afendoulis and Mike McCready won primaries, advancing to competitive generals.
Some solid conservatives won primaries (Jim Runestad, Lana Theis, Tom Barrett), while others lost (Bob Genetski, Gary Glenn, and Ray Franz). The most common winners were mainstream conservatives like Pete Lucido, Ruth Johnson, John Bizon, Kim LaSata, Aric Nesbitt, Roger Victory, Rick Outman, Jon Bumstead, and Curt VanderWall. A similar pattern held in for state house nominations.
Experience counts Elected experience is valuable for winning candidates. All of the Republican state senate nominees were previously state representatives. State house winners Doug Tietz, Sarah Lightner, and Christine Barnes have all been elected to county commissions.
Incumbency Matters All but one incumbent Republican won renomination. Beating an incumbent in a primary is very hard. The one exception this year is Matt Hall, who spent more than 200K of his own money to defeat David Maturen. The only other conservative challengers who beat a Republican incumbent in recent years are Tim Walberg in 2006 and Lee Chatfield in 2014. Certainly many incumbents deserve primary challenges, but conservatives have limited resources. Winning an open seat is much easier than beating an incumbent. Politicians can still be held to account when they run for other offices, as with the moderates listed above. There are still some benefits to primary challenges, though, as they may encourage the incumbent to vote better for awhile and may help the challenger to win an open seat later.
If at first you don’t succeed David Wolkinson and Gary Eisen both finished second in 2012 state house primaries. This time, they won their primaries. Matt Maddock lost a close primary for state senate in 2014, but won a big victory for state house this time. Candidates who lost this time should look for opportunities to run again in the future.
Build a brand David Wolkinson, Doug Tietz, Matt Maddock, Matt Hall, and Annette Glenn are known across Michigan for advocating conservative causes. This can provide a larger fundraising base to tap when you run for office.
Don’t split the vote Conservatives did much better this year than in past years. Senate district 12 is one example where a conservative candidate likely lost due to vote splitting. Conservatives may have benefited from splits in the establishment in senate districts 30 and house districts 40 and 81.
Money doesn’t buy elections Self-funding candidates have a bad electoral track record. Shri Thanedar, Jim Himes, Sandy Pensler all self-funded statewide bids and lost. Self-funder Lena Epstein did win the nomination in MI-11.
Money is essential 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.
The candidate who raised the most money won in 13 of 21 contested primaries in open Republican seats (fewer than in past cycles). I have written before that the minimum amount needed to be a credible candidate is $30,000. Only five winners raised less than 30K this cycle, two in races where no candidate did. All but one winner raised at least 15K.
Exceptions are exceptional The only Republican with bad fundraising to win nomination is Gary Eisen, a firearms instructor who raised only 3K. He had finished second in 2012, and apparently had built some support from that run. He joins Steven Johnson (2016) and Aaron Miller (2014) as candidates who beat the odds despite poor fundraising. 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.
Every seat in the Michigan state house is up for election in 2018, and many seats are open due to term limits. The house has been run by its more conservative wing for the past four years. Continuing this trend will depend on conservatives winning primaries in August. Here are my recommendations for who to support in Republican primaries. Some races are hard evaluate, so additional information from readers is welcome.
Recommended candidates are in bold.
36. Strangely, none of the three major candidates here have an issue page. However, Dr. Karen Potchynok-Lund, wife of conservative former rep Pete Lund, is solely endorsed by Right to Life.
38. Moderate incumbent Kathy Crawford has voted to increase gas taxes, support hollywood subsidies and FoxConn subsidies, against electric choice, against an income tax cut, against constitutional carry, against cutting auto insurance rates, and against reforming civil asset forfeiture. Chase Turner is running on a conservative platform and is endorsed by Pat Colbeck.
39. Assistant prosecutor Marsha Kosmatka is running on a conservative platform and is solely endorsed by Right to Life and Citizens for Traditional Values. Ryan Berman and Kevin Tatulyan also have decent platforms.
40. Lawyer/businessman David Wolkinson has a fairly conservative platform. CPA Paul Taros is a Tea Party activist who may not be the best fit for a moderate district. Mike Banerian and Malissa Bossardet have fairly generic platforms. Joe Zane has made many democrat donations.
41. Oakland County Commissioner Doug Tietz is a good conservative who was campaign manager for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in 2006.
43. Independence Township Trustee Jose Aliaga is a solid conservative who has an Aq rating from the NRA, while his opponents both got C from the NRA.
44. Businessman Matt Maddock is a conservative leader in Oakland County. He is solely endorsed by Right to Life.
51. Mike Mueller is the establishment favorite, but his positions are unimpressive. County commissioner Drew Shaprio has a history of run-ins with the police and no issues page on his website. Trump delegate Ian Shetron has a conservative platform.
63. Moderate incumbent David Maturen is pro-abortion, has a D rating from the NRA, and voted for gas tax increases and against income tax cuts. He is being challenged by conservative activist Matt Hall (a third candidate dropped out).
65. Jackson County Commissioner Sarah Lightner is solely endorsed by Right to Life and has an Aq rating from NRA.
71. County Commissioner Christine Barnes seems to be more conservative than businessman Chuck Cascarilla, but the difference isn’t huge.
72. State rep. Steven Johnson has been one of the best conservatives in the house since his election in 2016. He is endorsed by Right to Life, NRA, Pat Colbeck, and Bob Genetski. He is being challenged by moderate Jennifer Antel.
73. Most establishment support has gone to Lynn Afendoulis, cousin of the moderate incumbent. A better choice is Robert Regan, who is endorsed by the NRA, state senator Pat Colbeck, and state reps Dave Agema and Steve Johnson.
77. State rep Tommy Brann has been an average conservative in office. He is being challenged by Daniel Oesch.
78. Niles city councilman David Mann is running on a conservative platform and is solely endorsed by Right to Life and conservative state rep Steve Johnson.
79. The candidate websites don’t show a clear distinction. Pauline Wendzel is endorsed by local conservative activist David Yardley.
81. Kenneth Nicholl and Eric Stocker have raised the most, but have generic platforms. Joel Williams and Gary Eisen have more conservative platforms.
84. There doesn’t seem to be a clear distinction between county commissioner Matthew Bierlein, Phil Green, son of conservative state senator Mike Green, and businessman Dean Smith.
88. Luke Meerman is solely endorsed by Right to Life, as well as by conservative former state rep. Tom Hooker.
90. Ottawa County Treasurer Bradley Slagh has most establishment support and is solely endorsed by Right to Life. Orlando Estrada is a conservative alternative.
91. Greg VanWoerkem, a staffer for Bill Huizenga, has most establishment support and is solely endorsed by Right to Life. However, former county commissioner Alan Jager has a higher NRA rating.
93. County Commissioner Anne Hill is running on a solidly conservative platform.
94. Saginaw Township Treasurer Steven Gerhardt is solely endorsed by Right to Life and is the most conservative candidate.
98. Annette Glenn is the wife of staunch conservative state rep. Gary Glenn. She is solely endorsed by Right to Life and seems to be the only candidate running a serious campaign.
101. Radio host Jack O’Malley seems to be running the most serious campaign. Carolyn Cater is runnning as a more conservative alternative.
102. State rep. Michelle Hoitenga has been one of the best conservatives in the house since her election in 2016. She is being challenged from the left by William Barnett.
107. State rep. Lee Chatfield is a solid conservative who is in line to be the next Republican leader in the house. He faces an unserious primary opponent.
110. Doctor and school board member Kirk Schott is solely endorsed by Right to Life and seems to be running the most serious campaign.
All 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives will be up for election in November. Republicans won a 63-47 majority in 2016, the same margin as in 2014. There are 42 open seats, 25 held by Republicans and 17 held by democrats. There are 23 open due to term-limits, 18 just due to seeking another office, and 1 pure retirement.
The last two cycles have seen contests between moderate and conservative factions in the house GOP, won by the conservatives narrowly in 2014 and more decisively in 2016. This time, the house GOP candidate recruitment is solidly in the hands of conservatives, and conservative Lee Chatfield is the presumptive next house GOP leader. There are still likely to be some ideological battles, particularly in districts vacated by moderate incumbents.
The following lists district number, current incumbent, geographic description, 2012, 2014, and 2016 state house results, 2012 Romney %, 2016 Trump % (if known), and political rating. Candidates who filed a reporting waiver, indicating that they will not raise more than $1000 (and hence are not serious) are typically omitted. The complete candidate list is available here:
July 27 was the deadline for campaign finance reports for Michigan legislature. Here are summaries of the total amount raised in competitive Michigan state house districts. Totals include in-kind contributions, and for Republicans, late contributions. Candidates who filed reporting waivers are generally omitted.
All 38 seats in the Michigan Senate are up for election in 2014. Republicans currently have a 27-11 supermajority, and have controlled the senate since 1983.
For the past few years, the state senate has been more moderate than the state house. This cycle, there are several ideologically split Republican primaries that will determine how conservative the state senate will be next year. These will be in districts 12, 21, 24, 26, 30, 31, 34, and 35.
1. [Detroit riverfront, Downriver] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 28-72 McCain: 22.0 Romney: 21.5 Trump: XX
Incumbent: Coleman Young (D term-limited)
This is one of five black-majority districts based in Detroit. Young, who lost badly in his bid for Detroit Mayor, is now running for Congress. State reps Stephanie Chang (14-P), Bettie Cook Scott (06-10, 16-18), and Alberta Tinsley-Talabi (10-16) are running for the D nomination, along with James Cole, Nicholas Rivera, and Stephanie Roehm. Chang is a progressive favorite, but is opposed by Detroit Mayor Duggan and could struggle is a heavily black district. Pauline Monte is the R candidate.
2. [NE Detroit, Grosse Pointes] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 25-71 McCain: 20.1 Romney: 19.3 Trump: XX
Incumbent: Bert Johnson (D term-limited)
One of five black-majority districts based in Detroit. Johnson pled guilty to theft (hiring a fake employee to pay a debt). There will be a special election at the same time as the general election. Incredibly, eleven Ds are running. Leading the pack is eight-time felon and disgraced former rep Brian Banks (12-17), who resigned in a plea bargain. Former rep George Cushingberry Jr. (74-82, 04-10) is running after losing his seat on the Detroit city council due to scandal. Former rep John Olumba (10-14) is running as a D after becoming an independent in 2013. Former state rep Lamar Lemmons (99-06) is running. Adam Hollier, Johnson’s former chief of staff, has received many endorsements as a (presumably) saner alternative to the other candidates. Hamtramck city commissioner Abraham Aiyash has fundraised well in the Muslim community. Tommy Campbell, Lawrence Gannon, Anam Miah, William Phillips, and Regina Williams are also running. Rs John Hauler and Lisa Papas are running.
July 27 was the deadline for campaign finance reports for Michigan legislature. Here are summaries of the total amount raised in Michigan state senate districts. Totals include in-kind and late contributions.
David Maturen is a Republican state representative representing district 63 (eastern Kalamazoo and southern Calhoun counties). He has held the seat since 2014, after spending 12 years on the Kalamazoo County Commission. Maturen is one of the most liberal Republicans in the state house.
The National Rifle Association has just issued its endorsements for the 2018 primary. They give grades to candidates who have voting records or fill out their survey. They endorse most acceptable incumbents and endorse in some open seats. Endorsed candidates are in bold. (Aq means a candidate got an A from the questionnaire only, and doesn’t have a voting record.)
Governor: No endorsement. Schuette got A+, Calley and Colbeck got A, Hines got Aq.
US Senate: No endorsement. John James and Sandy Pensler both got Aq.
8. Bishop A endorsed.
11. All five Republican candidates got A or Aq.
6. (D) Kosowski B, Geiss F
8. Lucido A+, Goike A
10. All three got Aq.
12. Tedder A, McCready D
14. Apparently nobody filled out the questionnaire.
15. Jim Runestad A+
16. Mike Shirkey A+
19. Bizon B+, Callton A.
21. LaSata A, Pagel C.
22. Lana Theis A+
24. Barrett and Roberts both got A.
26. Nesbitt and Genetski both got A.
29. Chris Afendoulis got C+.
30. Victory, Garcia got A, DeBoer Aq, Haveman B+.
31. Gary Glenn A+, Daley A-.
32. (D) Phelps A, Gaudreau F
33. Rick Outman A
34. Bumstead, Hughes both got A.
35. Franz, Vanderwall, and Rendon all got A.
37. Schmidt A+, Gurr Aq.
38. McBroom A, Carey Aq.