Conservative First

2020 Michigan Primary Election Results

Congress:
3. Meijer 50 Afendoulis 26 Norton 16
5. Kelly 79
6. (R) Upton 62 Oelke 38
(D) Hoadley 52 Richardson 48
8. Junge 35 Detmer 29 Lyke 25
10. McClain 42 Hernandez 36 Slocum 22
11. Esshaki 31 Greco 23 Bentivolio 22 Acosta 13 Williams 11
13. (D) Tlaib 66 Jones 34

State House:
2. (D) Tate 69 Harrell 31
3. (D) Thanedar 35 McKinney 20
9. (D) Whitsett 45 Ogburn 30
19. Ptashnik 52 Crider 43
20. Lacny 59 Rouch 41
25. Smith 37 Wiley 32 Early 31
32. Hornberger 64 Mikula 36
38. Turner 62 Cherukuri 23
41. Sosnoski 51 Agnello 49
47. Bezotte 54 Reckling 41
56. Clements 72 Blaine 28
58. Fink 39 Welden 26 Wiseley 18 Stockford 17
59. Carra 37 Coleman 23 Walton 18 Balog 16
60. (D) Rogers 51.5 Moore 48.5
61. Haltom 66 Graham 34
62. Morgan 72 Gregoire 20
70. Outman 57 Ross 22
71. Johnsen 51.3 Barnes 48.7
73. Posthumus 46 Inhulsen 29 Regan 25
79. Wendzel 82 Blackwell 18
81. Eisen 72 Mahaney 28
83. Beeler 36 Alexander 28 Keller 20 O’Mara 14
100. VanSingel 68 Sebolt 32
101. O’Malley 87 Cater 13
104. Roth 58 Cerone 42
105. Borton 55 Cutler 36
107. Damoose 57 Twardy 12 Fisher 11

Oakland:
D turnout was about 200000, R turnout was about 120000.
Executive. (D) Coulter 54 Meisner 46
Prosecutor. (D) McDonald 66 Cooper 34

Macomb:
D turnout was about 89000, R turnout was about 95000.
Prosecutor. (D) Chrzanowski 35 Switalski 32
Prosecutor. (R) Lucido 68 Goodman 32
If Lucido wins, his senate seat will be open.
Clerk. (R) Forlini 45 Williams 23

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July 2020 Michigan State House Fundraising

July 24 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.  Candidates who filed reporting waivers are generally omitted.  These numbers come from MIRS and the SOS campaign finance reports.  XX means the report has yet to be filed.

2. (D) Tate 108K, Harrell XX
3. (D) Thanedar 438K (all self), Mckinney 37K, Cochran 5K
4. (D) Aiyash 72K, Oberholtzer 58K, Holmes 37K, Ahmed 12K
6. (D) Carter 40K, Palmer 23K
7. (D) Scott 28K, Yancy 10K
8. (D) Etheridge 37K, Young 30K, Davis 24K
9. (D) Whitsett 22K, Ogburn 38K
10. (D) Cavanagh 13K, Hill 5K
13. (D) Liberati 34K, Estheimer 10K, Colovos XX
19. (R) Crider 54K (32K self), Ptashnik 45K (D) Pohutski 148K
20. (R) Lacny 30K (all self), Roush 3K (D) Koleszar 131K
21. (R) Nangle 6K, Hess 3K (D) Puri 128K, Petzold 55K
22. (D) Steenland 20K, Nelson 9K, Anderson 1.5K
25. (R) Smith 10K, Wiley 6K, Early waiver (D) Shannon 65K
27. (D) Weiss 50K, Kresch 33K, Stoel 22K, Williams 8K
35. (D) Bolden 61K, Martini 27K
37. (D) Bruce 111K, Steckloff 62K
38. (R) Turner 31K, Chereukuri XX (D) Breen 43K McAllister 33K
39. (R) Berman 67K (D) Pulver 117K
40. (R) Cleary 6K (D) Manoogian 160K
41. (R) Agnello 22K Sosnoski 7K (D) Kuppa 188K
43. (R) Schroeder 56K (D) Breadon 25K
44. (R) Maddock 83K (D) Forrest 44K
45. (R) Tisdel 42K (D) Johnson 58K, Anness 39K
46. (R) Reilly 51K (D) LaMacchia 98K
47. (R) Reckling 55K, Bezotte 46K (21K self), Dyba 5K
48. (R) Martin 11K, Cross 1.3K (D) Kennedy 85K
55. (D) Brabec 142K
56. (R) Clements 28K, Blaine 4K
58. (R) Fink 49K, Welden 23K (17K self), Wiseley 19K, Stockford 11K
59. (R) Coleman 52K (38K self), Carra 24K, Walton 15K, Balog 9K, Hinkle 8K (all self)
60. (D) Rogers 107K, Moore 43K
61. (R) Haltom 286K (100K self), Graham 6K (5K self) (D) Morse 165K
62. (R) Morgan 13K (9K self), Gregoire 4K (D) Haadsma 199K
66. (R) Griffin 85K (D) Wheeler 24K
70. (R) Outman 46K, Ross 17K (14K self), Comden 4K
71. (R) Johnsen 88K (42K self), Barnes 12K (D) Witwer 195K
72. (R) Johnson 18K (D) Wilson 15K, Cheng 7K
73. (R) Inhulsen 116K, Posthumus 53K, Regan 23K (12K self) (D) Saxton 89K
76. (R) Zandstra 55K (D) Hood 45K
79. (R) Wendzel 83K, Blackwell 3K (D) Pitchford 38K
83. (R) Alexander 60K, O’Mara 49K (all self), Beeler 30K, Keller 29K
90. (R) Slagh 90K, Northrup 5K
91. (R) VanWoerkem 112K (D) Hosticka 37K
95. (D) Bryant 16K, Hammond 13K, Graham 7K, Adams 4K
98. (R) Glenn 258K (D) Schulz 173K
99. (R) Hauck 58K (D) Zang 6K
100. (R) VanSingel 78K Sebolt 9K
101. (R) O’Malley 80K Cater waiver
104. (R) Roth 38K (22K self), Cerone 19K (D) O’Neil 210K
105. (R) Culter 56K, Borton 50K
107. (R) Damoose 70K (30K self), Fisher 28K (21K self), Lamb 25K (24K self), Twardy 8K, Lieurance 5K
110. (R) Markkanen 31K (D) Metsa 20K, Dale 6K

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2020 Michigan Primary Recommendations

Every seat in the Michigan state house is up for election in 2020, 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.  Michigan Right to Life is abbreviated RTL.  Fundraising totals are available from Open Secrets.  Some races are hard evaluate, so additional information from readers is welcome.

Congress:

3.  Tom Norton is the most conservative candidate here, but he seems unable to raise a significant amount of money.  He didn’t come close either time he ran for state representative.  Lynn Afendoulis is thoroughly establishment friendly.  Peter Meijer is a veteran and heir of the retail chain who seems to be somewhat more conservative than Afendoulis.  Joe Farrington has an eccentric platform.
5. Former state rep. Tim Kelly had a conservative record in office and is a credible candidate.
8. It will take a good candidate with good fundraising to beat incumbent democrat Elissa Slotkin.  Television anchor and Trump USCIS official Paul Junge has a decent resume and has raised by far the most money.  None of the other candidates have raised much money.  Mike Detmer is endorsed by Pat Colbeck.
10. State rep. Shane Hernandez is the clear choice here.  He was a Tea Party leader who has compiled one of the most conservative voting records in the state legislature, according to the American Conservative Union, MIRS, and RightMichigan.  He has been endorsed by conservative organizations including Gun Owners of America, Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, Michigan Trump Republicans, and Tea Party Express.  He has also been endorsed by many conservative legislators, including Jack Brandenberg, Leon Drolet, Pam Hornberger, and Tom Leonard, plus many more establishment-friendly colleagues.  Neither of his opponents have a conservative track record.
11. The field of candidates to take on incumbent democrat Haley Stevens is quite weak.  Nurse/lawyer Eric Esshaki and businesswoman Carmelita Greco have raised the most money.  Whitney Williams is endorsed by former state rep. Jeff Noble.  Former Congressman Kerry Bentivolio had a conservative voting record, but was ineffective in Congress and is a weak candidate.

State House:

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Michigan Right to Life Endorsements

Michigan Right to Life has just issued its endorsements for the 2020 primary.  RTL swings a significant number of Michigan primary voters, so its endorsements will decide some races.

RTL will recommend all candidates if they are all pro-life, but if there is a serious non-pro-life candidate, they will pick one pro-life candidate to endorse.  Their noteworthy endorsements are listed below.

President:  Trump
US Senate: John James

Congress:
All Republican incumbents are endorsed except for Fred Upton.  Notably, Upton was endorsed in 2012, 2014, and 2016 despite a past pro-abortion record.
3. Afendoulis, Meijer, and Norton all endorsed
5. Tim Kelly solely endorsed
6. No endorsement
8. All four Republican candidates are endorsed.
9. Both Republican candidates are endorsed.
10. All three Republican candidates are endorsed.

State House:  All Republican incumbents are endorsed except two.
13. (D) Bill Colovos
19. Crider and Ptashnik both endorsed.
20. John Lacny
21. Laurel Ness
25. All three Republican candidates are endorsed.
38. Chase Turner solely endorsed.  Who is not pro-life here?
39. No endorsement for incumbent Ryan Berman
41. Evan Agnello
45. No endorsement for Mark Tisdel
47. Bezotte and Reckling both endorsed.
48. David Martin solely endorsed.
56. TC Clements
58. Andrew Fink solely endorsed.  Who is not pro-life here?
59. Allen Balong solely endorsed.  Some other candidates, including State Carra, are pro-life.
61. Bronwyn Haltom
62. Dave Morgan
70. Martin Ross solely endorsed.  Who is not pro-life here?
71. Barnes and Johnsen both endorsed.
73. All three Republican candidates are endorsed.
78. No endorsement for incumbent Brad Paquette
83. Gregory Alexander solely endorsed.  Who is not pro-life here?
95. (D) James Graham
96. Bauer and Beson both endorsed.
104. Cerone and Roth both endorsed.
105. Cutler and Borton both endorsed.
107. No endorsement among the seven R candidates.

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Gretchen Whitmer’s Instinctive Lies

A crisis can reveal a person’s true character.  One striking example of this is Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.  She has a bad habit of lying about her political opponents whenever they disagree with her.  There are many examples.

1. Republicans in the Michigan senate approved several hundred appointees of Governor Whitmer without issue.  In February, they rejected the appointment of Anna Mitterling in a political dispute related to hunting rights.  The governor’s office immediately accused senate Republicans of sexism:

“Sen. Shirkey had promised to turn over a new leaf, but it’s now clear that they care more about their sexist, partisan games than the well-being of our state.”

Of course, there was no evidence of sexism, beyond the fact that Mitterling is female.  Senate Republicans rejected a male nominee soon after.

2. Early in the coronavirus crisis, Whitmer claimed that the Trump administration told vendors not to send emergency supplies to Michigan:

“What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we had contracts are now being told not to send stuff here to Michigan. It’s really concerning.”

Whitmer never provided any evidence to support her claim.

3. When thousands of citizens drove to Lansing to protest the over-broad and irrational aspects of her lockdown policy, Whitmer implied that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was responsible for creating the protest:

“I think it’s really inappropriate for a sitting member of the United States President’s cabinet to be waging political attacks on any governor, but obviously on me here at home,”

(A group that the DeVos family has contributed to spent $250 promoting the protest after it had been organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, a grassroots group.)

4. Whitmer also claimed that protesters endangered lives by blocking ambulances from reaching a hospital:

“The blocking of cars and ambulances trying to get into Sparrow Hospital immediately endangered lives,”

Her claim was rebutted by Lansing police.

Whitmer has displayed little competence at governing in her time in office, but routinely lashes out at anyone she perceives as a political opponent.

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Shane Hernandez for Congress

Back in July, Michigan 10th district congressman Paul Mitchell announced that he would not seek reelection after just two terms.  More than two months later, the first serious Republican candidate has announced.  State representative Shane Hernandez of Port Huron is running.

Shane was a Tea Party leader in St. Clair county who helped conservatives win control of the county GOP there.  He also served on the 10th district committee.  In 2016, Shane ran for state house in the 83rd district, including all of Sanilac and part of St. Clair Counties.  He comfortably won a three-way primary.  He won the general election with 63% in 2016 and 64% in 2018, in a district that elected a democrat as recently as 2008.

Shane quickly established himself as one of the most conservative members of the Michigan legislature. The American Conservative Union rated his votes 93% conservative, tying for most conservative in 2018.  MIRS rated him 93% conservative, tying for most conservative in 2017.  RightMichigan rates him 88% conservative, tied for most conservative in 2017-2018.

Unlike some legislators who vote the right way, but are otherwise unproductive in office, Shane has worked well with his legislative colleagues.  He helped to elect conservative leadership in the state house.  In 2018, he was appointed chairman of the house appropriations committee, widely considered the most prestigious committee chairmanship.  Unlike some legislators who use this position to deliver pork to pet projects, he produced a fiscally responsible budget that resisted Governor Whitmer’s plan for massive tax and spending increases.

Shane is pro-life, pro-gun, and an all-around conservative leader.  All conservatives should support his campaign for Congress.

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Michigan 2018 Election Results

Governor: 43-54 for Whitmer over Schuette.  Michigan’s governorship usually flips when open.  Schuette ran a lackluster campaign and was dogged by controversies inherited by Snyder and attacks from Calley in a bitter primary.

Senate: 46.3-51.7 for Stabenow over John James.  Much closer than her wins by 21% in 2012 and 16% in 2006.  John James was a good candidate who has a future in the MI GOP.

AG: 46.8-48.5 for Dana Nessel.  Get ready for four years of crazy Dana.

SOS: 45-52 for Benson.  Lang was largely abandoned in this race.

Proposal 1 (marijuana): 56-44  Get ready for legal pot.
Proposal 2 (redistricting): 61-39 This will be a mess with both sides trying to game the system.  Without the governor, Rs wouldn’t have controlled the process, anyhow.
Proposal 3 (voting rules): 67-33 Easy win with no organized opposition.

Supreme Court was 30-25-24 for Clement (moderate R) and Cavanagh (D) with Wilder (conservative R) losing.  Rs have 4-3 majority, but two Rs are unreliable.

Education Boards:  Ds sweep all eight seats.

Congress:
1. 56-44 for Bergman.  If Bergman keeps his term limits pledge, this seat will be open in 2022.
2. 55-43 for Huizinga.  Much closer, but not that close.
3. 55-42 for Amash.  Still secure.
4. 63-37 for Moolenaar.
5. 36-60 Kildee
6. 50.3-45.7 Upton.  Close call.  Upton no longer overperforms.  Does he retire in 2020, or hang on longer?
7. 54-46 Walberg. He will never win big margins, but he has settled in here.
8. 46.8-50.6 for Slotkin (LOSS).  Bishop lost thanks to D turnout in Ingham and Oakland.  Bishop didn’t work the district hard enough.  Maybe Joe Hune could run next time?
9. 37-60 for Andy Levin, an heir force candidate.
10. 60-35 for Mitchell
11. 45-52 for Stevens (LOSS).  Big suburban revolt for Ds in Wayne and Oakland.  Lena Epstein, a Trump sycophant, was a bad candidate here.  Maybe Pat Colbeck could run here?
12. 28-69 for Debbie Dingell
13. 89% for Tlaib (general) and 91% for Jones (special).  Expect a hotly contested primary here in 2020.
14. 15-83 for Lawrence

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2018 Michigan State House Races

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

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.

Democrats are hoping to take control of the state house. They may benefit from anti-Trump enthusiasm.  Libertarians achieved major party status due to Gary Johnson’s showing in 2016, which led to more Libertarian candidates.  The elimination of straight ticket voting may help Republicans in downballot races.

Conservatives did reasonably well in 2018 primaries.  Conservative Lee Chatfield is the presumptive next house GOP leader.

Republican Michigander has a profile of the Michigan state house focusing more on district demographics.



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.  The complete candidate list is available here:

https://miboecfr.nictusa.com/election/candlist/2018GEN_CANDLIST.html

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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).  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.

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)

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Lessons from the 2018 Primary Elections

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.
Wolkinson 69K
Tietz 67K
Maddock 98K
Hall 209K
Meerman 30K
Glenn 52K

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.

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