Part 3 – Michigan House Preview (D61 - 75)
District 61 – Alamo Township, Part of Kalamazoo Twp, Oshtemo Township, Parchment, Portage, Prairie Ronde Township, Texas Township – Kalamazoo County – Currently Republican
Incumbent Jack Hoogendyk who is a candidate for governor currently holds this district. He defeated James Houston with 54.89% of the vote. President Bush won this district with 52.51% of the vote. Kalamazoo County has been treading democrat lately so this may be a sleeper open seat in 2006. Texas Twp, Alamo Twp, and Prairie Ronde Twp, are the most republican areas. The City of Portage has the most population and is marginally republican. Parchment is a small swing area that went for Bush. Oshtemo is a swing area that narrowly went for Kerry. Kalamazoo Township leans democrat, although not as much as the city.
District 62 –Albion City and Twp, Athens Township, Battle Creek, Burlington Township, Clarence Township, Clarendon Township, Convis Township, Eckford Township, Fredonia Township, Homer Township,. Lee Township, Leroy Township, Marengo Township, Sheridan Township, Springfield, Teknosha Township – Calhoun County - Currently Republican
Mike Nofs is the incumbent who ran two tough races to win. His last win was with 53.37% of the vote taking away a formerly democrat held seat (Mark Schauer). John Kerry narrowly carried this district with 49.57%. I do not understand why the redistricters put Battle Creek, Springfield, and Albion all in the same district as it is Calhoun’s democrat base. This makes this seat much tougher to defend. Albion is heavily black and 70% democrat. Battle Creek is the most populated city in the district and tilts democrat, although not as much as most Michigan core cities. Kerry only received 52.33% there. I expect more tough races in this competitive district, which changed parties in 96 and 2002.
District 64 – Concord Township, Hanover Township, Jackson, Napoleon twp, Parma twp, Pulaski twp, Sandstone twp, Spring Arbor Twp, Summit twp – Jackson County – Currently Republican
This was a very competitive district in 2004. The democrats took a good shot at an open seat back in 2004, and lost by 358 votes. Rick Baxter beat an A-team democrat in Martin Griffin winning with 49.81%, most likely due to some coattails by President Bush. Bush carried this district with 55.19% of the vote due to reducing his losses in the city of Jackson from 2000. This whole district is extremely republican outside of the solid democrat city of Jackson. Spring Arbor and Summit townships counter the city.
District 65 – Blackman Twp, Columbia Twp, Grass Lake Twp, Henrietta Twp, Leoni Twp, Liberty Twp, Norvell Twp, Rives Twp, Springport Twp, Tompkins Twp, and Waterloo Twp in Jackson County. Brookfield twp, Eaton Rapids City, and Hamlin Twp in Eaton County. Cambridge Twp in Lenawee County – Currently Republican.
This was also a competitive district in 2004. Leslie Mortimer won the district after her husband Mickey Mortimer was term limited. Leslie won with 51.41% in this open seat against a strong democrat in Mike Simpson. President Bush carried this district with 56.36% of the vote, winning every area in this district. That said - Eaton Rapids and Leoni Twp are always competitive areas. I think Mortimer will have an easier race in 2006, but I am including this district here because of the 04 results.
District 67 – Alaiedon Twp, Aurelius twp, Bunker Hill Twp, Delhi Twp (Holt), Ingham Township, Leroy Township (Webberville), Leslie City and Twp, Locke Twp, Mason, Onondaga twp, Stockbridge twp, Vevay twp, Wheatfield Twp, White Oak Township, Williamston, and the city of Lansing’s South Side – Ingham County – Currently Democrat.
I believe the current democrat; Diane Byrum is term limited in 2006(due to a possible earlier term before she became a St. Senator). In 2006, the republicans have their first chance since redistricting to have state representative seats that cover Ingham County (and the pre-redistricting seat had part of Livingston County). They have the first change in years to have an Ingham County based district. Longtime representative Dianne Byrum currently holds this district. Byrum won an open seat in 2002 easily after taking a “demotion” from her state senate district where she was term limited. Byrum is well known and gains enough crossover votes to win repeatedly. In 2004, she faced her first tough challenge since her 2000 loss to Mike Rogers for the congressional seat. Beth Chandler outworked her and was able to hold Byrum to 54.80%, well below her usual 60% numbers. President Bush won this district with 49.95%
This will likely be the toughest race for either party. Slightly over 1/5 of the district is in South Lansing, which is one of the most democrat parts of the city at 68%. The rest of the district went Republican, and the rural areas are more like rural Livingston County than Ingham County politically. The key swing areas are Delhi Twp (Holt), Mason, and Williamston. Williamston is marginally republican, although less so in gubernatorial years because of state workers. Mason and Holt swing. They went for Gore, Granholm, and Bush. Those areas are all must wins for the Republicans to take this seat and overcome their losses in South Lansing. This district is certainly winnable with a good candidate.
District 75 – Part of the City of Grand Rapids – Kent County - Currently Republican
I think the democrats smell blood here. Grand Rapids has been treading their way recently, and they went 55% for Kerry in 2004. It has a tradition of electing one republican and one democrat rep in the city based district, but that may end once Jerry Kooiman is term limited unless we do something. Jerry Kooiman won re-election here with 52.22% of the vote and John Kerry carried this district with 54.24% of the vote. I believe this is the most democrat district with a Republican state rep. I expect some very tough races here.