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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives will be up for election in November. Republicans won a 63-47 majority in 2014, 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 1 (Gretchen Driskell) just seeking another office.
Republicans picked up four seats (62, 71, 84, 91) in 2014.
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. Republicans may benefit from the recent elimination of straight ticket voting.
There are a number of interesting primaries in August. 2014 saw a number of primaries between establishment and Tea Party/antiestablishment conservatives. While the establishment won the majority of them, the antiestablishment won enough that the relatively conservative faction of the state house won the leadership races. The state house has served as a check on some of the Governor’s less conservative plans.
This year, there are contests between relatively conservative candidates backed by the state house establishment, more moderate establishment candidates, and some antiestablishment conservatives supported by various Tea Parties and the Michigan Prosperity Project. Most primary battles are in open seats, but there are a few primary challenges to incumbents worth watching.
July 22 was the deadline for campaign finance reports for Michigan legislature. Here are summaries of the total amounts raised in competitive Republican primaries and general elections for Michigan state house. Primary ratings are included. XX means the report has yet to be filed.
Senator Ted Cruz is the best choice for the Republican nomination for President. EXPERIENCE Cruz has a variety of government experience. He has been a Senator from Texas since 2012. Before that, he was Solicitor General of Texas, working on numerous high-profile legal cases, including winning eight cases before the Supreme Court. Before that, he was a member of the Federal Trade Commission, where he fought to protect free markets, including keeping the internet free from government regulation. ISSUES Cruz is a solid conservative who is pro-life and pro-marriage. He supports gun rights completely. He is a free market conservative who supports cutting government spending, taxes, regulations, and bureaucracy. He is a patriot who advocates a realist foreign policy with a strong military willing to intervene when it is in American interests, but not to support a Utopian vision of imposing democracy and nation-building. He is an immigration patriot who opposes amnesty for illegal aliens and supports enforcing the law, securing the border with a real fence, and cutting back on legal immigration when it is not in America’s interest. RECORD Lots of candidates talk conservative during the campaign, but don’t act that way in office. That’s why it is essential to examine their records. Ted Cruz ran for senate promising to be a solid conservative who led the fight on important issues. His voting record backs that up. He has lifetime ratings of 100% from the American Conservative Union, 98% form Heritage Action, 98% from Freedomworks, and 96% from Club for Growth. He was a leader of the successful effort to defeat President Obama’s 2013 gun control plan. He led the filibuster of Obamacare funding, and fought against budget-busting spending bills. Cruz was a major part of the successful opposition to the Gang of Eight amnesty bill.