Sunday, August 07, 2005

2006 State Senate Elections – Sneak Preview

Most of the hype in 2006 is going to fall with the gubernatorial race, but the State House and State Senate races are just as important. Currently, the GOP has 58 out of 110 State House Seats and 22 out of 38 Senate seats.

After a bit of a RINO streak from 2002 to 2004, the republicans lost five house seats, most of them open. Thankfully, they have begun to swing back to the right and become more aggressive during Speaker Craig DeRoche’s term. I believe this influenced the Senate as well, as they have shifted a bit to the right in the past year.

Term Limits and Open seats are a major factor in the State House and Senate Races. The open seats are especially important as they factor into redistricting in 2011. Senators who win an open seat in 2006 will be an incumbent going into 2010. State Representatives who win in 2006 will be incumbents in 2008 and 2010, so these are also important. Most of the seats are solidly partisan one way or the other. However, many seats are competitive.

I will work on the house districts later and will concentrate on the state senatorial districts first.

Possible Competitive State Senate Districts:

District 6 – Garden City, Livonia, Redford, and Westland – Wayne County – Currently GOP

This is a Western Wayne County district. Laura Toy is the incumbent here and is from Livonia. She defeated strongly pro-2a State Rep Eileen DeHart in the 2002 election with 54% of the vote. However, John Kerry carried this district with 51.76%. Livonia leans republican, but Redford, Garden City, and Westland are strongly democrat. About 40% of the voters in 2004 were from Livonia, so this favors Toy.

District 7 – Belleville, Brownstown Twp, Canton Twp, Flat Rock, Gibraltar, Grosse Ile, Huron Twp, Northville City and Twp, Plymouth City and Twp, Rockwood, Sumpter Twp, Trenton, Van Buren Twp, Woodhaven – Wayne County – Currently GOP

This district consists of Western Wayne County and Downriver. Bruce Patterson is the incumbent here and is from Canton. He defeated State Rep George Mans in the 2002 election with 56.32% of the vote. Bush received 50.74% of the vote in this district. Seven areas here went for Bush. Seven areas here went for Kerry. In order from the most Republican to the most Democrat - Grosse Ile, Northville Twp, Plymouth Twp, Northville City, Canton Twp, Huron Twp, Plymouth City, Trenton, Gibraltar, Woodhaven, Flat Rock, Rockwood, Brownstown Twp, Sumpter Twp, and Van Buren Twp.

District 10 – Clinton Township, Roseville, Sterling Heights, Utica – Macomb County – Currently Democrat

This district covers parts of Central Macomb County. Mickey Switalski is the incumbent and is from Roseville. He defeated Steve Rice in 2002 with 53.04% of the vote and John Kerry carried this district with 50.38% of the vote. Sterling Heights and Utica both went marginally for Bush. Clinton Twp marginally went for Kerry. Roseville is difference maker as it is 60% Democrat. In order for a Republican to win this seat, he needs to win big in Sterling Heights and needs to carry Utica and Clinton Township.

District 13 - Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Twp, Clawson, Madison Heights, Royal Oak, Troy – Oakland County – Currently Republican

This district covers Central and Eastern Oakland County. I believe that the incumbent, Shirley Johnson, is term limited out. She won with 63.15%, but Bush only carried this district with 51.98%. This could be a very difficult seat to defend, as it is a socially liberal district (outside of Troy). Shirley Johnson is pro-choice and extremely anti-gun, and while that is a liability in most of Michigan, it is an advantage in much of this district, especially in Royal Oak. John Kerry carried Berkley, Madison Heights, and Royal Oak, which is the most populous city. Clawson went for Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004. The rest of this district went for President Bush. I expect a vicious primary in 2006 – and a strong contest from the democrats.

District 17 – All of Monroe County, Grass Lake Twp, Leoni Twp, Norvell Twp, and Summit Twp in Jackson County, Bridgewater Twp, Lodi Twp, Manchester Twp, Milan Twp, (Most of) Pittsfield Twp, Saline City and Twp, York Twp in Washtenaw County – Currently Republican

This large district covers all of Monroe County and parts of Washtenaw and Jackson Counties. It is an open seat and competitive district. The incumbent Bev Hammerstrom won with 59% of the vote in 2002. President Bush carried this district with approximately 50.89%. Over half of the voters in this district are in Monroe County. Monroe is a true swing county going for Gore in 2000, Posthumus in 2002, and Bush in 2004. Its two state rep district in 2004 went democrat. It is a blue-collar area that prefers John Dingell democrats who are pro-2a. They will vote against cultural liberal democrats such as Granholm or Kerry.

The Washtenaw section of this district is also important. The good news is that most of the democrat areas are in the Ann Arbor based district. However, most of Pittsfield Twp is in this district. Pittsfield Twp (Between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti) has about 14000 of the 33000 voters in the Washtenaw County portion of the district. It went 60.64% for Kerry. Bush won every other part of the Washtenaw section of this district with the exception of Milan where he tied.

The Jackson section of the district is the most Republican and least populated. About 20,000 voters are in the Jackson portion of the district, and Bush won all of them. Summit Twp is the most populated as well as the most Republican. Bush won 60% of Summit Twp, which helps counterbalance Pittsfield Twp. I expect Randy Richardville to run for this seat. He was term limited out in 2004 and was a state rep in the most democrat part of Monroe County.

District 19 – All of Calhoun County - Blackman Twp, Columbia Twp, Concord Twp, Hanover Twp, Henrietta Twp, Jackson City, Liberty Twp, Napoleon Twp, Parma Twp, Pulaski Twp, Rives Twp, Sandstone Twp, Spring Arbor Twp, Springport Twp, Tompkins Twp, and Waterloo Twp in Jackson County. – Currently Democrat

I would love to see the GOP pull off an upset and knock out one of the Democrat leaders in Marc Schauer. Schauer however is a great campaigner and won this competitive open seat in 2002 with 55.14% of the vote against a strong opponent in Mickey Mortimer. President Bush carried this district with 53.00% of the vote. Calhoun is a true swing county. It voted for Gore, Granholm, and Bush narrowly each time. It also voted for both democrats and republicans on the state level. This part of Jackson County went 55% for Bush who did very well there. Only Jackson City went democrat in 04, although Schauer won Henrietta and Blackman townships in 02 that went 55% for Bush. A few state reps could cause some problems for Schauer. Mike Nofs is a GOP state rep from Calhoun County. Leslie Mortimer and Rich Baxter are the state reps from Jackson although they are first-termers and would be stronger candidates in 2010 when this seat is open. I hope Bisbee is not the candidate. He had the establishment support and ran a poor campaign for Congress in 04. I would like to see Nofs run. While he has one more state rep term left, this state senatorial seat is about 5% more GOP than his state rep district.

District 20 – All of Kalamazoo County, Antwerp Twp, and Paw Paw Twp in Van Buren County – Currently Republican

This will be a very tough district to defend in 2010. Kalamazoo County is marginally democrat. Paw Paw swings, and Antwerp is Republican. Tom George is the incumbent here and received 56.53% in a very strong open seat campaign against a formidable democrat in State Rep Ed LaForge. This district should be ours as long as George is here, but we will have a tough defense in 2010 if either LaForge or Alexander Lipsey runs for this seat.

District 26 - Atlas Twp, Burton City, Clio City, Davison City and Twp, Forest Twp, Grand Blanc City and Twp, Mount Morris City and Township, Richfield Twp, Thetford Twp, and Vienna Twp in Genesee County. Brandon Twp, Groveland Twp, Springfield Twp, and Waterford Twp in Oakland County. – Currently Democrat

This district covers many of the Flint Suburbs, and part of Oakland County. I cannot believe we did not go out and contest this one in 2002. Deb Cherry won this with 55.85% against an abandoned opponent in an open seat. John Kerry won this district, but with only 49.86%. Cherry is a strong democrat, and her brother is Lt Governor John Cherry. This is like the Tom George seat in reverse.

Seven of the areas in this district went Republican, and ten of the areas went Democrat. The two most populated areas however went Republican. Mt Morris Twp is the big problem in this district though as it is really an extension of the City of Flint. In order from most republican to most democrat – Springfield Twp, Groveland Twp, Brandon Two, Atlas Twp, Waterford Twp, Grand Blanc City, Grand Blanc Twp, Davison Twp, Forest Twp, Davison City, Richfield Twp, Vienna Twp, Clio City, Thetford Twp, Burton City, Mount Morris City, Mt Morris Twp.

I do have to give Deb Cherry some credit. As a state rep, she was anti-gun, but from what I have heard, her brother John (who really IS pro-2a and has also influenced Granholm on this issue) has influenced her on this issue. She has voted with gun owners in her time as a state senator. Whether it is a true conversion or an “I need to do this to win” situation I do not know, but I will give credit where it is due.

An excellent candidate for this district would be State Rep Dave Robertson out of Grand Blanc. He is not only of my favorite reps on the issues; he has also won two tough races. He beat an incumbent democrat in 2002. He has one term left in the State House, so I expect him to run for re-election, but he is a candidate to watch in 2010 for this seat.

District 29 – Cascade Twp, Grand Rapids City, Grattan Twp, Kentwood City, Lowell City and Twp, Vergennes Twp – Currently Republican.

I expect this to be like the Deb Cherry and Tom George seats. The incumbents are probably safe, but there should be a big fight in 2010 when they are termed out.

Bush only won this district with 49.92% of the vote. The problem here is that Grand Rapids is going blue and that is where 2/3 of the voters are in this district. Gore and Granholm won it narrowly, but Kerry won it big with 55%. There is a strong organized liberal current in Grand Rapids and the dems are gaining there. The GOP there needs to get to work. In the GOP’s favor are the suburbs and rural townships, which are 60%+ GOP areas. John Kerry only broke 40% in one of the burbs – Kentwood where he had 40.86%

District 31 – All of Arenac, Bay, Tuscola, Huron, and Sanilac Counties – Currently Democrat

This area went democrat because former Congressman Jim Barcia declined to run in a primary after redistricting and took the state senate district similar to his other district. Unfortunately, that was at the cost of a good man in Mike Green. This district went 50.98% for Bush. This district is probably safe for Barcia as he has very strong crossover support being that he is pro-2a and pro-life. I would like to see Green run again in 2010. Huron and Sanilac Counties are republican strongholds. Tuscola is conservative populist, and not necessarily republican. Bay is a democrat stronghold, and Arenac leans democrat.

District 32 – All of Saginaw and Gratiot Counties – Currently Republican

This is going to be a huge battle in 2006. Mike Goschka is term limited out and won with 54.62% as an incumbent. This was against an A team candidate in Mike Hanley who is a former state rep. John Kerry won this district with 51.79% of the vote. Saginaw County is a strongly democrat county which is reliably 53-54% democrat statewide due to Saginaw City, Buena Vista, and Bridgeport. The rest of the county is conservative and keeps it from being another Genesee County. Gratiot County is solid GOP going 56.59% for Bush.

I expect the dems to run an A-team candidate. Current or former state reps Mike Hanley, AT Frank, and Carl Williams are three top names that come to mind. I am sure there are others as Saginaw has a deep bench for dems. The GOP has a strong candidate as well in Jim Howell who won in an upset back in 98 for a state rep position. He was termed out in 2004. He is a strong senate candidate for Goschka’s seat. I expect a Howell vs. Hanley match up.

District 34 – All of Muskegon, Mason, Newaygo, and Oceana Counties – Currently Republican

This was our toughest successful defense in 2002. Gerald Van Woerkom beat Bob Shrauger by 947 votes in an open seat. Van Woerkom cut his losses in Muskegon losing it by 3200. He won the other three counties with Newaygo coming through big for him. John Kerry won this district with 50.05% of the vote, based on the 55.14% he won in Muskegon County. Muskegon is the democrat stronghold of West Michigan and is a union town. Over 60% of the votes in this district are in Muskegon County. Van Woerkom is the number one target of the democrats, and this will be one of our toughest defenses in 2006. Julie Dennis is a former state rep and ultraliberal. God help us if she runs and wins. Van Woerkom needs our support in 2006.

District 36 - Alcona, Alpena, Crawford, Gladwin, Iosco, Midland, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, and Otsego Counties. – Currently Republican

This is a very competitive district from 2002 covering NE Michigan.

President Bush won this district with 54.70% of the vote, but that is more because of his popularity in Northern Michigan, and John Kerry’s unpopularity there. Bush won every county, even Alpena County, which Granholm won with 56.95%. Two A-Team candidates battled it out in 2002. Former State Reps Tony Stamas of Midland and Andy Neumann of Alpena ran a strong race. Both were extremely popular in their areas. Stamas was the victor in the end with 51.11% of the vote. I expect another strong contest here, possible a rematch with Neumann, or another strong democrat like state rep Matt Gillard who is also from Alpena. Alpena democrats are pro-2a and populist, which runs well in NE Michigan. Sen. Stamas will probably have another tough fight in 06, although he SHOULD win. Midland, Montmorency, Otsego, and Oscoda are solid GOP. Alpena strongly leans democrat. Iosco and Ogemaw swings, and Alcona and Crawford are GOP leaning at the statewide level.

District 38 - Alger, Baraga, Delta, Dickinson, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Luce, Marquette, Menominee, Ontonagon, and Schoolcraft counties. – Currently Democrat.

This UP district is a long shot to win, as the UP is still very democrat at the local levels. This MAY be competitive in 2010 when it is an open district, but it will be a very tough race even then. Former State Rep Michael Prusi of Marquette won the district with 60% of the vote as an open seat. President Bush won this district with 50.79% of the vote so I included it here, but that has to do with Bush and Kerry more than GOP and democrat, especially since the more GOP friendly parts of the UP (Chippewa and Mackinac counties) are in another district. This is still a democrat leaning district.

Kerry (Marquette, Gogebic, and Alger) and Gore (Marquette, Gogebic, and Iron) won three of these counties. Granholm won seven – the Kerry and Gore counties plus Luce (the most GOP usually), Delta, and Baraga Counties. I think our only shot at this district is with State Rep Tom Casperson. He won in 2002 an open seat in a swing district. We have a shot if he runs, but I do not expect him to take on Prusi. Bart Stupak’s Congressional seat (if it opens) is easier to win than this district.

Currently the GOP has a 22 to 16 advantage in the senate. The GOP have more open seats to defend, but the democrats have four, maybe five tough seats to defend as well. The toughest seats IMO are going to be the Monroe seat and Saginaw seat. Coattails do matter some, but the biggest key for us to defend them is the organization at the local levels. The statewide elections here large enough for coattail victories are rare. The only three elections I can think of offhand with large coattails are the GOP years of 1998 and 1994, and the democrat year of 1986.
Unless either Granholm or the Republican nominee has a 15%+ victory, we should not expect coattails.

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