2018 Michigan State Senate Elections

Cross-posted at The Western RightRight Michigan, and RRH Elections.

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.  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.

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.

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
Michigan State Senate 2018 Preview (all up in 2018)

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.

2018 Candidate List (Michigan Secretary of State)

1. [Detroit riverfront, Downriver] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 28-72 McCain: 22.0 Romney: 21.5 Trump: XX
Incumbent: Coleman Young (D term-limited)
Analysis: 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.  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)
Analysis: 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 (it isn’t clear which one) is running.  Abraham Aiyash, Tommy Campbell, Lawrence Gannon, Adam Hollier, Anam Miah, William Phillips, and Regina Williams are also running.  Rs John Hauler and Lisa Papas are running.

3. [West-central Detroit, Dearborn, Melvindale] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 20-80 McCain: 16.3 Romney: 14.5 Trump: XX
Incumbent: Morris Hood (D term-limited)
Analysis: One of five black-majority districts based in Detroit.  Detroit State rep Sylvia Santana (16-P) is the leading candidate.  Former R state rep (98-04) and D county commissioner (04-P) Gary Woronchak of Dearborn is also running, along with Anita Bella and Terry Burrell.  The R candidate is Kathy Stecker.

4. [Central Detroit, Lincoln Park, Southgate, Allen Park] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 16-84 McCain: 18.5 Romney: 16.7 Trump: XX
Incumbent: Ian Conyers (D)
Analysis: One of five black-majority districts based in Detroit. Virgil Smith resigned after pleading guilty to shooting at his ex-wife.  The 2016 special election was won by Ian Conyers, defeating State rep Fred Durhal (14-P).  Conyers, the great-nephew of Congressman John Conyers, is now running for Congress.  Durhal is running again, and is likely favored over Marshall Bullock and Carron Pinkins.  The R candidate is Angela Savino.

5. [W Detroit, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, Inkster, Redford] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 18-82 McCain: 20.6 Romney: 18.4 Trump: XX
Incumbent: David Knezek (D)
Analysis: One of five black-majority districts based in Detroit.  Knezek, who is white, won a split primary with 29% in 2014. His primary opponent is Betty Alexander.  The R candidate is DeShawn Wilkins.

6. [SW Wayne, Westland, Taylor] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 38-62 McCain: 34.3 Romney: 35.1 Trump: XX
Incumbent: Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D term-limited)
Analysis: Moderate D state rep Robert Kosowski (12-18) and liberal rep Erika Geiss (14-P) are running.  The R candidate is Brenda Jones.

7. [Livonia, Canton, Plymouth, Northville, Wayne city] Lean Republican
SS 2014: 52-48 McCain: 47.3 Romney: 50.0 Trump: 49.0
Incumbent: Patrick Colbeck (R term-limited)
Analysis: State rep Laura Cox (14-P), who represented more than half of the district on the Wayne County commission, is the R candidate.  D Ghulham Qadir, who has raised significant out of state money, faces Dayna Polehanki in the primary.

8. [N/E Macomb] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 62-38 McCain: 50.3 Romney: 54.0 Trump: 62.4
Incumbent: Jack Brandenburg (R term-limited)
Analysis: R state rep Peter Lucido (14-P) is the favorite over former rep Ken Goike (10-16), who represented only 5% of the district.  Ds will choose between Patrick Biange, Raymond Filipek, and Paul Francis.

9. [Warren, Roseville, Eastpointe, Fraser, S Clinton] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 32-68 McCain: 37.7 Romney: 36.7 Trump: 44.2
Incumbent: Steven Bieda (D term-limited)
Analysis: D state rep (96-02) and Warren city clerk Paul Wojno is the favorite against Kristina Lodovisi. Rs will choose between Jeff Bonnell and Fred Kuplicki.

10. [Sterling Heights, Macomb, N Clinton] Tossup
SS 2014: 63-37 McCain: 47.8 Romney: 51.1 Trump: 58.4
Incumbent: Tory Rocca (R term-limited)
Analysis: Republicans suffered a significant recruitment failure here.  The R candidates are Doctor Michael Macdonald, former state house candidate Michael Shallal, and Joseph Bogdan.  D state rep Henry Yanez (12-18) is a strong candidate who has held a swingy district.

11. [Farmington, Southfield, Oak Park, Madison Heights] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 24-76 McCain: 25.8 Romney: 26 Trump: 25.6
Incumbent: Vincent Gregory (D term-limited)
Analysis: D State rep Jeremy Moss (14-P) of Southfield is the favorite to replace Vincent Gregory, who is running for Moss’ house seat.  The other D candidates are Crystal Bailey, Vanessa Moss, and James Turner.  The R candidate is Boris Tuman.

12. [NE Oakland, Pontiac, Bloomfield Twp.] Likely Republican
SS 2014: 57-43 McCain: 46.4 Romney: 50.2 Trump: 50.3
Incumbent: Jim Marleau (R term-limited)
Analysis: Conservative state rep Jim Tedder (14-P) and moderate state rep Michael McCready (12-18) will run, along with Vernon Molnar and Terry Whitney.  The D candidate is Rosemary Bayer.  Low turnout in Pontiac usually hurts Ds in midterms in this district.

13. [Troy, Rochester, Royal Oak, Birmingham] Likely Republican
SS 2014: 58-42 McCain: 46.5 Romney: 50.4 Trump: 46.9
Incumbent: Marty Knollenberg (R)
Analysis: Knollenberg won a very close primary in 2014.  The D candidate is businesswoman Mallory McMorrow.

14. [SW Genesee, NW Oakland, Waterford] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 58-42 McCain: 48.5 Romney: 51.9 Trump: 58.9
Incumbent: David Robertson (R term-limited)
Analysis: Surprisingly, Secretary of State (10-18) Ruth Johnson, who once represented this area as a state rep (98-04), will move down to the state senate.  Katherine Houston will also run in the R primary.  Ds will choose between Cris Rariden, Jason Waisanen, and Renee Watson.

15. [SW Oakland] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 58-42 McCain: 48.3 Romney: 52.9 Trump: 52.2
Incumbent: Mike Kowall (R term-limited)
Analysis: Kowall beat Tea Party leader Matt Maddock only 50-43 in the 2014 primary.  Conservative state rep Jim Runestad (14-P) will run, and Maddock will run for his house seat.  Moderate state rep Hugh Crawford (08-14) announced a run, but later dropped out to run for reelection to the Oakland County Commission.  Mike Saari dropped out after making controversial comments, but will remain on the ballot.  The D candidate is Julia Pulver.

16. [Jackson, Hillsdale, Branch] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 61-39 McCain: 50.8 Romney: 55.6 Trump: 64.8
Incumbent: Mike Shirkey (R)
Analysis: Shirkey, who led the fights for both Right to Work and Medicaid expansion, is the presumptive favorite to be the next senate majority leader.  Matt Dame is also running in the R primary.  The D candidate is Val Toops.

17. [Monroe, Lenawee] Lean Republican
SS 2014: 51-46 McCain: 47.6 Romney: 49.9 Trump: 61.5
Incumbent: Dale Zorn (R)
Analysis: Rs have held this competitive district for at least the last five elections.  Zorn defeated rep Doug Spade (98-04) in 2014.  The D candidate is state rep Bill Lavoy (12-16), who lost his 2016 reelection by 8%.

18. [Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 28-72 McCain: 24.9 Romney: 27.0 Trump: 23.6
Incumbent: Rebekah Warren (D term-limited)
Analysis: Ann Arbor loves electing left-wing feminist state senators, including Warren, Liz Brater, Alma Wheeler Smith, and Lana Pollack.  D state rep Jeff Irwin (10-16) is probably the favorite.  Ge faces Washtenaw County Commissioner Michelle Deatrick, Matthew Miller, and Anuja Rajendra.  The R candidate is Martin Church.

19. [Calhoun, Barry, Ionia] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 62-38 McCain: 49.6 Romney: 53.4 Trump: 61.8
Incumbent: Mike Nofs (R term-limited)
Analysis: Moderate R state rep Mike Callton (10-16) of Barry County faces Calhoun County state rep John Bizon (14-P) in an expensive primary.  The D candidate is Jason Noble.

20. [Kalamazoo County] Tossup
SS 2014: 45.5-45.4 McCain: 40.1 Romney: 43.3 Trump: 43.2
Incumbent: Margaret O’Brien (R)
Analysis: Kalamazoo County is a battleground, with Ds usually winning the top of the ticket, and Republicans doing better at the bottom.  In 2014, O’Brien (10-14) defeated D state rep Sean McCann (10-14) by just 61 votes, with Libertarian former R state rep Lorence Wenke (04-10) taking 9%.  McCann and Wenke are running again, setting up a three-way rematch of 2014.

21. [Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 64-36 McCain: 48.1 Romney: 54.6 Trump: 60.5
Incumbent: John Proos (R term-limited)
Analysis: Conservative state rep Kim LaSata (16-P) and moderate state rep Dave Pagel (12-18) are competing for the R nomination.  The D candidate is Ian Haight.

22. [Livingston, W Washtenaw] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 59-41 McCain: 52.8 Romney: 57.2 Trump: 59.2
Incumbent: Joe Hune (R term-limited)
Analysis: R state rep Lana Theis (14-P) is heavily favored over Joseph Marinaro.  The D candidate is Dreher.

23. [Ingham] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 34-66 McCain: 31.9 Romney: 34.5 Trump: 34.6
Incumbent: Curtis Hertel Jr. (D)
Analysis: Hertel, then Ingham Register of Deeds, won this seat in 2014.  The R candidates are Nancy Denny and Andrea Pollock.

24. [Eaton, Clinton, Shiawassee, NE Ingham] Likely Republican
SS 2014: 56-44 McCain: 47.1 Romney: 50.1 Trump: 56.1
Incumbent: Rick Jones (R term-limited)
Analysis: Conservative state rep Tom Barrett (14-P) is the favorite over moderate state rep Brett Roberts (14-P), who represents only 7% of the district.  D Public affairs specialist/lobbyist Kelly Rossman-McKinney is running, and has raised a lot from her Lansing contacts.

25. [St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 56-44 McCain: 50.1 Romney: 55.6 Trump: 68.4
Incumbent: Phil Pavlov (R term-limited)
Analysis: House majority leader Dan Lauwers (12-18) is the R candidate.  Debbie Bourgois is the D candidate.

26. [Van Buren, Allegan, Kentwood] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 61-39 McCain: 51.5 Romney: 55.4 Trump: 58.9
Incumbent: Tonya Schuitmaker (R term-limited)
Analysis: Tonya is running for Attorney General. Conservative former state rep (08-14) and Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski faces state rep (10-16) and lottery commissioner Aric Nesbitt, with Don Wickstra also running.  D Garnet Lewis, who lost the primary for the 32nd district in Saginaw in 2014, is running.

27. [Flint, central Genesee] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 23-77 McCain: 24.0 Romney: 25.0 Trump: XX
Incumbent: Jim Ananich (D)
Analysis: Ananich, who won a special election in 2013, is now the D state senate minority leader.  The R candidate is Donna Kekesis.

28. [N Kent, Walker] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 66-34 McCain: 56.5 Romney: 61.1 Trump: 61.9
Incumbent: Peter MacGregor (R)
Analysis: MacGregor, who was elected in 2014, holds one of the safest R districts in Michigan.  The D candidates are Craig Beach, Gidget Groendyk, and Ryan Jeanette.

29. [Grand Rapids, SE Kent] Lean democrat
SS 2014: 58-42 McCain: 42.8 Romney: 46.8 Trump: 41.9
Incumbent: Dave Hildenbrand (R term-limited)
Analysis: This district has been trending away from Rs at the top of the ticket, but has more R strength downballot.  Moderate R state rep Chris Afendoulis (14-P) is favored over Daniel Oesch.   State rep Winnie Brinks (12-18) is the D candidate.

30. [Ottawa County] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 71-29 McCain: 62.1 Romney: 67.4 Trump: 66.3
Incumbent: Arlan Meekhof (R term-limited)
Analysis: Ottawa County is usually the most Republican in Michigan.  The R candidates are state reps Daniella Garcia (14-P), Joe Haveman (08-14), and Roger Victory (12-18), and conservative activist Rett DeBoer.  The D candidate is Jeanette Schipper.

31. [Bay, Tuscola, Lapeer] Lean Republican
SS 2014: 55-45 McCain: 47.2 Romney: 52.0 Trump: 64.4
Incumbent: Mike Green (R term-limited)
Analysis: This district has alternated between parties every 8-10 years since the 1980s.  Mike Green narrowly won the 2014 primary 50-46 over state rep. Kevin Daley (08-14) of Lapeer County, who is running again.  He faces conservative state rep Gary Glenn (14-P), who recently moved to Bay County.  D Bay County Clerk Cynthia Luczak is the favorite over Joni Batterbee, Bill Jordan, and Chuck Stadler.

32. [Saginaw, W Genesee] Lean Republican
SS 2014: 54-46 McCain: 43.1 Romney: 45.9 Trump: 53.2
Incumbent: Ken Horn (R)
Analysis: Incredibly, despite D dominance of Saginaw County, Rs have won this district for the last seven elections.  D state rep Phil Phelps (13-18) of Flushing is running, despite representing only 3% of the senate district.  Henry Gaudreau is also running.

33. [Montcalm, Isabella, Gratiot, Mecosta, Clare] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 57-43 McCain: 46.8 Romney: 51.5 Trump: 62.3
Incumbent: Judy Emmons (R term-limited)
Analysis: R state rep Rick Outman (10-16) faces former state house candidate Greg Alexander.  The D candidates are Mark Bignell and John Hoppough.

34. [Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana] Tossup
SS 2014: 56-44 McCain: 39.8 Romney: 46.0 Trump: 55.5
Incumbent: Geoff Hansen (R term-limited)
Analysis: R state rep Jon Bumstead (10-16) of Newaygo, an early endorser of Trump, and State rep. Holly Hughes (10-12, 14-18) of Muskegon County will run.  Bumstead is somewhat more conservative.  D state rep Collene Lamonte (12-14), who defeated Hughes in 2012 and lost a rematch in 2014, faces Poppy Sias-Hernandez.

35. [NC Lower Peninsula] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 60-40 McCain: 49.8 Romney: 54.5 Trump: 64.6
Incumbent: Darwin Booher (R term-limited)
Analysis: Conservative R state rep Ray Franz (10-16), rep Bruce Rendon (10-16), rep Curt VanderWall (16-P), who succeeded Franz, are running, along with Cary Urka.  Franz and VanderWall will probably split the vote on the eastern side of the district, allowing Rendon to win.  The D candidate is Mike Taillard.

36. [NE Lower Peninsula, Midland] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 61-39 McCain: 50.8 Romney: 56.0 Trump: 65.4
Incumbent: Jim Stamas (R)
Analysis: This district was competitive in 2002, but has moved right since then.  Stamas is in line to be the next appropriations committee chairman.  The D candidate is Joe Weir.

37. [NW Lower Peninsula, E Upper Peninsula] Safe Republican
SS 2014: 61-39 McCain: 51.9 Romney: 56.8 Trump: 61.1
Incumbent: Wayne Schmidt (R)
Analysis: Schmidt won a bitter primary in 2014.  He is being challenged in the primary by conservative teacher Jim Gurr.  The D candidate is Jim Page.

38. [Upper Peninsula excluding Mackinac, Chippewa, Luce] Tossup
SS 2014: 62-38 McCain: 46.2 Romney: 51.0 Trump: 59.0
Incumbent: Tom Casperson (R term-limited)
Analysis: This district was held for Ds for decades until Casperson won it in 2010.  R state rep Ed McBroom (10-16) of Dickinson County faces moderate Mike Carey in the R primary.  Moderate D state rep Scott Dianda (12-18) from western UP is a strong candidate.

Summary of Ratings:
Safe democrat: 11
Lean democrat: 1
Toss-up: 4
Lean Republican: 4
Likely Republican: 3
Safe Republican: 15

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  7 comments for “2018 Michigan State Senate Elections

  1. Sue Schwartz
    April 26, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    What a wonderful analysis. SOS Ruth Johnson running. I hope you're wrong about the 35th. And Jim Gurr in the 37th is in it to win.

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    • Conservative First
      April 29, 2018 at 9:09 pm

      I hope Franz wins 35. Curt VanderWall's decision to run is strange since he'd have a much better chance of winning in four years because
      1. Franz and Rendon are both over 65 and might serve only one term
      2. Rendon may well end up in a different district after redistricting in 2022.

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  2. Conservative First
    May 5, 2018 at 9:41 am

    This post has been updated to remove candidates who withdrew from their races.

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  3. June 4, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Michigan Senate Candidate Mike Saari (District #15) is not recusing himself from the 2018 elections!

    Our campaign has actually had increased endorsement and support after the campaign Facebook page was verified as compromised (Hacked) to discredit our campaign.

    Many local constituents and surrounding Chaldean communities have been respectful and supportive of our honorable campaign that favors people over government and equal rights for all Americans void of occupational nobility and other important issues.

    Constituents had made repeated written requests that our campaign move forward with positive and encouraging change for Michigan!

    Mike SAARI for Michigan Senate 2018 (R)

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  4. June 23, 2018 at 2:42 am


    — Mike “SAARI” for Michigan Senate 2018 (R)

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  5. June 23, 2018 at 2:43 am


    — Mike “SAARI” for Michigan Senate 2018 (R)

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  6. Corinthian Scales
    June 24, 2018 at 2:41 pm



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