Conservative First

October 2017 Michigan State Senate Fundraising

October 25 was the deadline for campaign finance reports for Michigan legislature.  Some races are already well-developed, while in others, candidates have only recently declared or have yet to declare.  Here are summaries of the total cash on hand in Michigan state senate districts.  Totals include state house committees for state representatives.  XX means the report has yet to be filed.

6. (D) Kosowski 35K Geiss 6K
7. (R) Cox 88K
8. (R) Lucido 108K
9. (D) Lane 92K Wojno 104K
10. (D) Yanez 54K
11. (D) Moss 26K
12. (R) Tedder 33K
13. (R) Knollenberg 32K
14. (R) Johnson 6K
15. (R) Runestad 129K Crawford 20K
16. (R) Shirkey 103K
17. (R) Zorn 70K
18. (D) Irwin 50K Zemke XX
19. (R) Callton 133K Bizon 222K
20. (R) O’Brien 126K
21. (R) Pscholka 65K
22. (R) Theis 36K
24. (R) Barrett 47K Roberts 3K (D) Rossman-McKinney 114K
25. (R) Lauwers 31K
26. (R) Genetski 174K Nesbitt 74K
28. (R) MacGregor 80K
29. (R) Afendoulis 201K (D) Brinks 100K
30. (R) Garcia 162K Haveman 18K Victory 68K
31. (R) Glenn 73K Daley 46K (D) Luczak 2K
32. (R) Horn 85K
33. (R) Outman 12K
34. (R) Bumstead 73K Hughes 283K
35. (R) Franz 18K Rendon 30K
36. (R) Stamas 105K
37. (R) Schmidt 60K
38. (R) McBroom 11K (D) Dianda 58K

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Michigan House Passes Constitutional Carry

On Wednesday, the Michigan state house passed a package of bills to implement constitutional carry in Michigan.  Constitutional carry means that the government does not impose any permits or fees before citizens can exercise their constitutional right to carry firearms. Around five years ago, support for constitutional carry moved from the fringe to a mainstream Republican position.  Twelve states now have constitutional carry, and more are considering it.

The four bills received 59 to 61 yes votes, and 47 to 49 no votes.  Three democrats voted for all four bills.  They are

  • John Chirkun – district 22 (Roseville)
  • Phil Phelps – district 49 (Flint suburbs)
  • Scott Dianda – district 110 (western UP) – running for state senate (district 38) in 2018

Seven Republicans voted against some or all of the bills.  They are

  • Kathy Crawford (against 3 of 4) – district 38 (Novi) – termed out in 2020
  • Michael McCready (against all 4) – district 40 (Bloomfield) – termed out in 2018 – may run for senate (district 12)
  • Martin Howrylak  (against 2 of 4) – district 41 (Troy) – termed out in 2018
  • David Maturen (against all 4) – district 63 (E Kalamazoo) – termed out in 2020
  • Chris Afendoulis (against all 4) – district 73 (GR Township) – termed out in 2020 – may run for senate (district 29)
  • Rob Verhuelen (against all 4) – district 74 (Walker) – termed out in 2018.  Verhuelen ran against Tom Leonard for Speaker last year.
  • Dave Pagel (against all 4) – district 78 (S Berrien) – termed out in 2018

The bills now go to the state senate, where it is not certain whether they will be taken up.  It is also unclear whether Governor Snyder, who has a mixed record on gun rights, would sign them.  Nonetheless, Speaker Tom Leonard and most Republicans in the state house deserve credit for getting them this far.

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2018 Michigan State Senate Elections

Cross-posted at The Western RightRight Michigan, and Red Racing Horses.

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.

Michigan Redistricting: Official Republican State Senate Map Released
Michigan Redistricting: Republican State Senate Map Passed

There are 26 open seats due to term-limits, 7 D and 19 R.  There may be other openings due to retirement or seeking another office.

All current state senators are former state representatives except three (Colbeck, Conyers, Hertel).  This pattern held in the past, and most credible candidates this time are current or former state reps.

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.

Republican Michigander district profiles (see sidebar)
RRH Michigan Senate Data File

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.

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How Trump Won Michigan

Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the 2016 presidential election was capped off by winning Michigan. The vote total was
Trump 2279543 (47.50%)
Clinton 2268893 (47.27%)
The margin was only 10704 votes. Michigan had the closest percentage margin of any state in the nation.

Analyzing the election results nationwide leads to four basic observations:

1. Trump won huge margins in rural areas.
2. Trump improved significantly in downscale (white working class) areas.
3. Trump did poorly in upscale (wealthy, highly educated) areas.
4. Clinton won blacks by large margins, but turnout was significantly down.
The following maps show Trump/Clinton and Romney/Obama by county.
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Michigan Election Results

President:
Trump 47.6 Clinton 47.3

Supreme Court:
67-23 for Viviano
59-28 for Larsen

Education Boards:
SBOE:  McMillin and Snyder win, pulling Rs into a 4-4 tie.  Big loss for D bathroom policy.
UofM:  Weiser wins, Illich second.  Now 3R, 5D.
MSU: Kelly and Byrum win. Now 4-4 tie.
WSU: Gaffney and Busito win Now 3R, 5D.

Congress:
1. 55-40 for Bergman over Johnson. Big win in a race many pundits called a tossup.
2. 63-32 for Huizinga
3. 59-38 for Amash
4. 62-32 for Moolenaar
5. 35-61 Kildee
6. 59-36 Upton over Clements. Wenke got 5%.
7. 55-40 Walberg over Driskell. Big win in a race Ds fought for.
8. 56-39 Bishop. Secure.
9. 37-58 for Sander Levin
10. 63-32 for Paul Mitchell
11. 53-40 for Trott.  Surprisingly, this was the closest congressional race.
12. 29-64 for Debbie Dingell
13. 16-77 for Conyers
14. 19-79 for Lawrence

State House:
17. 52-44 for Bellino over Lavoy. Shocking upset and PICKUP.
20. 56-44 for Noble.  Big conservative win.
23. 49.7-50.3 Camilleri beats Howey.  Tough LOSS in a tough district.
24. 55-45 for Marino. The tapes didn’t matter.
30. 54-46 for Farrington
39. 50-42 for Kesto
40. 53-47 for McCready. Close call in an upscale district.
41. 56-44 for Howrylak
50. 48-52 for Sneller. This wasn’t even on the radar.  Trump did well here.
52. 45-52 Lasinski wins.  Not that close, but this might have been won with a stronger candidate.
57. 56-44 for Kahle
61. 49-45 for Iden. Iden seriously underperformed.
62. 48.0-47.5 Bizon wins a very tough district.
66. 54-46 for Griffin
71. 54-43 for Barrett
85. 56-34 for Frederick. Locked down early.
91. 49-44 for Hughes
99. 55-45 for Hauck
101. 54-46 for VanderWall
104. 51-43 for Inman
106. 61-35 for Allor over sign-stealing Kennedy.
108. 53-47 for LaFave. Dems top recruit loses.

Macomb: Candace Miller wins public works. Rs win Treasurer and Clerk narrowly.
Oakland: Incumbents win, including Patterson and Bouchard.
Kalamazoo:  All incumbents win.
The metro Detroit transit millage failed.

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2016 Michigan State House Races

Cross-posted at The Western RightRight Michigan, and Red Racing Horses.

All 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives will be up for election in November. Republicans won a 63-47 majority in 2014, picking up four seats (62, 71, 84, 91), up from 59-41 after 2012. There are 42 open seats, 27 held by Republicans and 15 held by democrats. There are 41 open due to term-limits and one (Gretchen Driskell) just seeking another office.

Democrats are hoping to take back the state house. They will benefit from higher turnout in a presidential year and possibly coattails from the presidential race. They will try to take advantage of Republican support for a tax increase for roads and Governor Snyder’s handling of the Flint water crisis, though state house candidates had nothing to do with the latter.

There are also many Republican seats first won in 2010 that are now term-limited.  Democrats are targeting several Republican incumbents, including 62, 71, 91, and a number of open seats.

State house fundraising is analyzed in this article.

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2016 Michigan Post-primary State House Fundraising

September 1 was the deadline for campaign finance reports for Michigan legislature.  Here are summaries of the total amounts raised (with cash on hand) in competitive general elections for Michigan state house.  XX means the report has yet to be filed.

17. (Safe D) (R) Bellino 43K (19K) (D) LaVoy 54K (5K)
20. (Lean R) (R) Noble 27K (10K) (D) Pubur 28K (19K)
23. (Tossup) (R) Howey 67K (37K) (D) Camilleri 62K (7K)
24. (Lean R) (R) Marino 110K (42K) (D) Peterson 75K (20K)
30. (Lean R) (R) Farrington 76K (32K) (D) Notte 46K (14K)
39. (Lean R) (R) Kesto 176K (101K) (D) Stack 6K (13K)
41. (Lean R) (R) Howrylak 84K (34K) (D) Peltonon XX
52. (Safe D) (R) Clark 15K (4K) (D) Lasinski 123K (19K)
56. (Lean R) (R) Sheppard 107K (64K) (D) Redmond 23K (10K)
57. (Tossup) (R) Kahle 88K (28K) (D) Schmidt 22K (21K)
61. (Lean R) (R) Iden 132K (82K) (D) Fisher 33K (17K)
62. (Tossup) (R) Bizon 109K (85K) (D) Haadsma 77K (47K)
64. (Lean R) (R) Alexander 104K (4K) (D) Brooks 16K (6K)
66. (Lean R) (R) Griffin 110K (50K) (D) Brown 62K (29K)
71. (Tossup) (R) Barrett 130K (77K) (D) Abed 50K (25K)
76. (Safe D) (R) O’Neill 40K (6K) (D) Brinks 70K (40K)
79. (Lean R) (R) LaSata 50K (14K) (D) Seats 9K (6K)
83. (Safe R) (R) Hernandez 49K (8K) (D) Frank 9K (4K)
85. (Lean R) (R) Frederick 126K (30K) (D) Karhoff 11K (4K)
91. (Tossup) (R) Hughes 182K (119K) (D) Lamonte 143K (103K)
97. (Safe R) (R) Wentworth 53K (14K) (D) Townsend 8K ($250)
98. (Safe R) (R) Glenn 179K (98K) (D) Malicoat XX
99. (Tossup) (R) Hauck 53K (21K) (D) Mielke 109K (70K)
101. (Tossup) (R) VandelWall 66K (52K) (D) Scripps 107K (22K)
103. (Lean R) (R) Rendon 84K (41K) (D) Stancil 31K (1K)
104. (Lean R) (R) Inman 122K (29K) (D) Coffia 35K (16K)
106. (Lean R) (R) Allor 77K (21K) (D) Kennedy 20K (3K)
108. (Tossup) (R) Lafave 41K (3K) (D) Celello 59K (21K)

I moved 83 and 97 to safe R based on these reports.

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Lessons from the 2016 Primary Election

What can we learn from the 2016 primary elections?  This article explains what the winning candidates had in common.  I wrote a similar article in 2014.

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 Beth Griffin, Tommy Brann, Shane Hernandez, Ben Frederick, and Scott VanSingel had substantial establishment support.

Be the establishment  One answer to this is to become the establishment.  Shane Hernandez is a former county party chairman.  It takes time to build political connections, but it pays off eventually.

Experience counts  Elected experience is valuable for winning candidates.  Bob Howey, Steve Marino, Julie Alexander, Beth Griffin, Ben Frederick, Roger Hauck, and Curt VanderWall have all been elected to local office.

Incumbency Matters  All incumbents won renomination.  Beating an incumbent in a primary is very hard.  The only times a conservative challenger 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.  Tom Casperson, Jason Allen, Tony Forlini, and (to a lesser extent) Phil Pavlov had bad voting records that contributed to losing their congressional bids.

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.  John Reilly lost a primary challenge in 2014, but won an open seat this time.

Don’t Ignore Life  Every candidate who won a Republican primary was endorsed by Michigan Right to Life (either solely or jointly).

Don’t split the vote  Conservatives did much better this year than in 2014.  Only in district 30 did a more conservative candidate likely lose due to vote splitting.  Conservatives may have benefited from splits in the establishment in districts 20 and 72.

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.
Bob Howey 57K
Steve Marino 69K
John Reilly 46K
Julie Alexander 86K
Beth Griffin 81K
Tommy Brann 77K
Shane Hernandez 35K
Ben Frederick 101K
Scott VanSingel 49K

The candidate who raised the most money won in 19 of 26 primaries in open Republican seats (three others were very close seconds).  I have written before that the minimum amount needed to be a credible candidate is $30,000.  This year, there were three open Republican seats where no Republican raised that much (79, 99, 108), though all those winners were over $20,000.  Only two winners raised less than $20,000.  Jeff Noble raised 16K, had Tea Party support and the endorsement of Pat Colbeck, and pulled the upset in district 20.

Exceptions are exceptional  There is one huge exception to the above points.  Steven Johnson, an unemployed 25-year-old military veteran and Christian constitutional conservative won district 72 with 30% in a five candidate field.  He raised only 6K (most from him and his parents) yet beat two well-funded candidates and two elected officials.  This mirrors Aaron Miller’s similarly unlikely win in 2014.  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.

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2016 August Primary Election Results

Congress:
1 (R) Bergman 39 Casperson 32 Allen 28
Great win for a good conservative over two moderate legislators. Allen won only Grand Traverse and Leelanau. Casperson won at least 52% in every county in his district, and at most 35% in all counties outside it. Bergman was first or second in every county.
(D) Johnson 72 Cannon 28
This will be an interesting race in the fall.
10 (R) Mitchell 38, Pavlov 28, Sanborn 16, Forlini 10, VanAssche 8
Mitchell’s anti-tax advocacy was money well spent. Pavlov only won Huron and St. Clair.
13 (D) Conyers 60 Winfrey 40
Conyers will only leave on a stretcher.

State Senate
4 (D) Conyers 37 Durhal 27 Score one for name recognition.

Michigan State House:
1 (D) Banks 45 Sossi 35 Banks will only leave in handcuffs.
20 Noble 40 Roosen 38 Tea Party wins with Colbeck endorsement.
23 Howey wins 77-14
24 Marino wins 80-17
30 Farrington 40 Shallal 39 (54 votes)
32 Hornberger 40 Schmina 33
33 Yaroch 37 Carl 28
46 Reilly beats Kent 31 votes. Big win for Tea Party, barring recount.
57 Kahle 63 Cottrell 29
64 Alexander 42 Tripp 30
66 Griffin 61 Nilson 31 Griffin is Tea Party with establishment support.
70 Lower 45 Van Kleeck 20
72 Johnson 30 Noto 23
77 Brann 90 Murin 10
79 LaSata 54 Arnt 30 At least Pscholka’s guy didn’t win.
83 Hernandez 47 Muxlow 31 Big win for Tea Party candidate with good fundraising and endorsements.
85 Frederick 66 Aue 23 Good candidate.
86 Albert 31 Johnson 29 Henry 23
89 Lilly 60 Stille 32
97 Wentworth 42 Link 24
99 Hauck 65 Stressman 35
100 VanSingel 76 Wilterink 16
101 VanderWall 58 Walter 28
102 Hoitenga 34 Langworthy 28 Langworthy has been 2nd three times (04, 10, 16).
103 Rendon 81 Kumar 19 Good since Kumar faces sex crime charges.
104 Inman 60 Gillman 40 Closest R primary challenge.
106 (R) Allor 37 Krawczak 35
(D) Kennedy 51 Kieliszewski 49 Preferred D candidate loses.
107 Chatfield 73 Twardy 27
108 (R) LaFave 44 Arcand 32
(D) Celello 58 Dziedzic 42 The top D recruit wins an unimpressive victory.

All incumbents won. The establishment and top fundraisers won most races. The Tea Party candidates with the best fundraising and endorsements (Noble, Reilly, Hernandez) won.

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Primary Recommendations

There are a bunch of contested primary elections on Tuesday.  It can be hard to find good information about these races.  What follows is my judgement about who is the best conservative for each position.  Recommendations are in bold.

Congress:
District 1:  State senator Tom Casperson and former senator Jason Allen are attacking each other for voting to raise taxes, and both are correct.  General Jack Bergman is a solid conservative in the race, with a particularly good position on immigration.

District 10:  This one is tougher.  Businessman David VanAssche supports amnesty. State rep Anthony Forlini voted for Proposal 1, Medicaid expansion, and against Right to Work. Former state senator Alan Sanborn voted conservative in the legislature, but has raised almost nothing in this race. Senator Phil Pavlov voted right on Medicaid expansion, Proposal 1, and the Amazon tax, but wrong on the Hollywood subsidies. He also avoided discussion of Common Core for years before finally coming out against it. Businessman Paul Mitchell hasn’t held office and his positions aren’t clear on everything, but he earned a lot of goodwill for funding the opposition to Proposal 1.

Michigan State House:
20. Pastor Jeff Noble is endorsed by Pat Colbeck.
23. Trenton Councilman Bob Howey is endorsed by Right to Life and is running the strongest campaign is this vulnerable seat.
24. Macomb County Commissioner Steve Marino is endorsed by Right to Life and is running the most credible campaign.
30. no clear choice
32. no clear choice
33. Colleen Carl, daughter of the late senator Doug Carl, comes from a conservative family.
46. Businessman John Reilly nearly beat Bradford Jacobsen two years ago, and is back this year.  He is endorsed by Tom McMillin.
57. Bronna Kahle is endorsed by Michigan Right to Life and is running the most credible campaign in this vulnerable district.
64. County commissioner Julie Alexander seems to be a decent conservative.
66. County commissioner Beth Griffin, a Tea Party member, is endorsed by Michigan Right to Life.
70. James Lower is endorsed by the NRA.
72. no clear choice
77. Restaurant owner Tommy Brann is fairly conservative.
79. no clear choice
80. Conservative activist Abigail Nobel is challenging incumbent Mary Whiteford.
83. Conservative activist Shane Hernandez, an active Tea Party and GOP leader, is running.
85. Owosso Mayor Ben Frederick seems to be a good conservative.
86. Lawyer Katherine Henry is endorsed by Justin Amash and Pat Colbeck.
89. no clear choice
97. no clear choice
99. Township Trustee Roger Hauck is endorsed by the NRA.
100. Accountant/businessman Scott VanSingel is endorsed by Gary Glenn and John Bumstead.
101. County commissioner Curt VanderWall is endorsed by the NRA and is running the most credible campaign in this vulnerable district.
102. no clear choice
103. Daire Rendon is a clear choice over Vijay Kumar, who has been charged with sex crimes.
104. Former county commissioner and Rightmi.com owner Jason Gillman was endorsed by the NRA over moderate incumbent Larry Inman.
106. no clear choice
107. State rep. Lee Chatfield has made a couple bad votes since ousting moderate Frank Foster.  But he is still more conservative than Kathy Twardy, who is backed by supporters of Foster.
108. Veteran Alan Arcand is solidly conservative, but may have trouble in this vulnerable district.

Input from conservatives across Michigan is welcome.

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