Every seat in the Michigan state senate is up for election in 2018, and the majority of seats are open due to term limits. The senate has been run by more moderate Republicans, who have obstructed more conservative legislation passed in the state house. How conservative the senate is for the next four years will be determined by Republican primaries in August. Here are my recommendations for who to support in those primaries.
Recommended candidates are in bold. Their voting records can be found at MichiganVotes.org.
7. State rep Laura Cox is an establishment conservative who is a strong candidate in a vulnerable district. She is unopposed.
8. State rep Peter Lucido is a mixed bag who opposed Proposal 1 and an increased gas tax but also opposed right to work and electric choice and supported Hollywood subsidies. He faces former state rep Ken Goike, who opposed right to work, Common Core, Medicaid expansion, Proposal 1, and Hollywood subsidies, and supported a gas tax increase and electric choice.
10. Dr. Michael MacDonald seems to be the most credible candidate in a weak field. Michael Shallal has a history of questionable statements, and Joseph Bogdan is running a gadfly campaign.
12. State rep Jim Tedder is more conservative than average in the state house, opposing Hollywood subsidies and supporting an income tax cut, constitutional carry, and pension reform. He faces moderate state rep Michael McCready, who supported Common Core, Medicaid expansion, Proposal 1, Hollywood subsidies and opposed an income tax cut, constitutional carry and pension reform. Vernon Molnar and Terry Whitney are also running.
14. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has a solid conservative record in office. She faces Katherine Houston in her bid to move down to the state senate.
15. State rep Jim Runestad is a conservative hero who voted against Proposal 1 and an increased gas tax. Runestad has fundraised very well, and moderate former state rep Hugh Crawford dropped out of the race to seek reelection to the Oakland County Commission. Michael Saari unofficially dropped out of the race after making inflammatory comments, but remains on the ballot.
19. State rep Dr. John Bizon has a somewhat moderate record, yet he opposed Hollywood subsidies and FoxConn subsidies and supported electric choice. Former state rep Mike Callton has a liberal record, supporting Hollywood subsidies and opposing electric choice. Significantly, Callton represented a safely Republican district, while Bizon represents the most democratic district held by a Republican. Thus there is a chance that Bizon would vote more conservative in a safer district, while we have no reason to expect any better from Callton.
21. State rep Kim LaSata is an average conservative, supporting an income tax cut, constitutional carry, and pension reform. She faces state rep Dave Pagel, who is one of the most liberal republicans in the state house, having supported Common Core, Medicaid expansion, and Proposal 1 and opposed electric choice, an income tax cut, constitutional carry, and pension reform.
22. State rep Lana Theis is a conservative star who opposed Proposal 1 and the gas tax increase. She faces Joseph Converse Marinaro, who is running a gadfly campaign.
24. State rep Tom Barrett is a solid conservative who supported electric choice, an income tax cut, pension reform, and auto insurance reform, and opposed FoxConn subsidies. He faces state rep Brett Roberts, who opposed electric choice, an income tax cut, pension reform, and auto insurance reform, and supported FoxConn subsidies. Roberts has never been endorsed by Right to Life and represents only a small part of the district.
25. State rep Dan Lauwers, an average Republican, is unopposed for this seat.
26. State rep Bob Genetski is a solid conservative who was regularly rated most conservative in the state house. He faces state rep Aric Nesbitt, an average Republican who supported Common Core and opposed electric choice.
29. State rep Chris Afendoulis has a moderate voting record, but is the only candidate running a serious campaign in a very vulnerable district. Daniel Oesch has filed a reporting waiver.
30. This is traditionally the most Republican district in Michigan, but it has a history of electing relative moderates. Three state reps are competing here. Daniela Garcia has a very moderate record, opposing electric choice, an income tax cut, and auto insurance reform. Her predecessor, Joe Haveman, is little better, voting for Medicaid expansion and Proposal 1. Roger Victory is a more average Republican, who voted against Medicaid expansion and electric choice and for Proposal 1, an income tax cut, and auto insurance reform. A better choice is conservative activist Rett DeBoer, who has volunteered for President Trump and Pat Colbeck.
31. State rep Gary Glenn is a conservative hero in the state house, opposing Proposal 1 and the gas tax and supporting electric choice. He faces state rep Kevin Daley, who supported Proposal 1.
33. Former state rep Rick Outman is an average Republican who supported Common Core and Proposal 1 and opposed Medicaid expansion and electric choice. He faces former state house candidate Greg Alexander.
34. State rep John Bumstead is somewhat more conservative here, voting against Common Core, Medicaid expansion, Proposal 1, and for increased speed limits and electric choice. He faces state rep Holly Hughes, who opposed increased speed limits and electric choice.
35. State rep Ray Franz is a solid conservative who opposed Proposal 1. He faces average Republican state rep Bruce Rendon, who supported Proposal 1, and state rep Curt VanderWall, who supported FoxConn subsidies.
37. Teacher Jim Gurr is running an uphill primary challenge to state senator Wayne Schmidt, who supported Proposal 1, Common Core, Medicaid expansion, the Amazon tax, increased gas tax, and FoxConn subsidies and opposed electric choice. He also introduced legislation to legalize red light cameras.
38. State rep Ed McBroom is somewhat moderate, but has weak fundraising so far. Mike Carey is a moderate with significant self-funding. This district is vulnerable, as moderate democrat state rep Scott Dianda is running.
The Michigan state senate currently has two solid conservatives (Pat Colbeck and Joe Hune). This year, two (Runestad and Theis) are near certain to win, and four others (Barrett, Genetski, Glenn, and Franz) have decent chances to win. Conservative donor looking to maximize their impact should support those four, and perhaps Tedder, LaSata, and DeBoer.