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Every State. Every race. Right here.

This is number 33 in a planned series of 50 entries between now and November, looking at each of the 50 states in terms of every race on that state's ticket--Presidential, Gubernatorial, Senate, House, State legislatures--the whole assembly line. Special attention paid to identifying and promoting the most important contests per state.

Join me among the Great Lakes today as we take a look at the all-important midwestern Democratic stronghold of MICHIGAN.

The above map looks concise and compact but is actually a Republican gerrymander, one of the worst in America. It was drawn in 2002 without Democratic input and resulted in an outrageous 6D, 9R monstrosity in a state with two Democratic Senators, that has gone blue for President in all of the last four elections. Our mission is to capture the legislature and retain the Governorship in 2010, so that we may return the favor at the end of the decade.

The traditional description of the political demographics is that Democrats have the east and Republicans have the west. More accurately, Republicans have most of West Michigan, and a slim but shrinking majority in the exurbs outside Detroit. Democrats have not only Detroit metro, but all of coastal Michigan that does not border Lake Michigan (since MI also borders Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie, that’s a lot of blue coast), with a couple of central state blue oases like Flint, Saginaw and Lansing.  You can see an accurate map on the Wikipedia page under "State Legislature", below.

BLOGS:  Michigan Liberal is Michigan’s great single-state progressive blog. Enjoy!

UPDATE: MichiganGirl, who is clearly the one to consult on Michigan, kindly pointed out a couple of other good ones:

The last two of those are even more specific--there's East Michigan Blue for the Detroit/Flint/Thumb (working in very friendly territory) and West Michigan Rising, which looks like it concentrates on the 2nd, 3rd and 6th districts, which badly need it.  Since the big takeover opportunity is just a little east of that, in the 7th, I'd hope they're willing to expand out just a little, this once....

PRESIDENT: : Likely Obama, but not so much that we can completely ignore it. Obama can and should do some good with a brief visit in the contested districts 7, 9 and 11 (which also happen to be the part with the most undecideds); but the time for attention to the blue states has passed.

Once the Conventions have passed, Obama will need to spend about 60% of his total time and money in the swing states of OHIO, MISSOURI, VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA, FLORIDA, COLORADO, INDIANA and NEVADA, with no more than 10% going to shore up the 21 states carried by Kerry, Gore or both, and 30% reaching out for some of the remaining 21, redder states like the Dakotas, Montana, Arizona and Alaska.  It’s up to the grassroots and the state party to make and keep Michigan off the map on the Presidential level.

That said, if McCain picks Mittens as his running mate, about half of that 10% may go to Michigan, which—since that scenario means McCain will NOT have picked MN Gov Pawlenty—will then be the only Kerry/Gore state with any potential to flip.

SENATE:  Carl Levin (D) v. Some Loser (R). No problem at all, as the Presidential race in Michigan is supposed to be. Levin and Obama can do nothing but help each other, and Levin needs a little pressure to share his huge and unnecessary war chest with downticket Democrats like Mark Schauer, Joe Larkin and Gary Peters.

GOVERNOR AND OTHER STATEWIDE: Governor  Jennifer Granholm is a Democratic powerhouse who, unfortunately, is term limited in 2010.  Lt. Gov John Cherry, another Democrat, is in the wings, and may take over early if Granholm gets a cabinet post, but he’s not necessarily the only Democrat running.

The other statewide offices, SoS and AG, are now held by Republicans, and we’ll need to fight for them, too.  

However, those—as well as another tussle for control of both houses of the legislature, in case we don’t make it this year—will come in 2010.


State House of Representatives: 58D, 52R. 6 person majority. 4 turnovers would flip control to the Repukes.

Senate: 17D. 21R, 4 person deficit. 2 turnovers would tie; 3 would gain control over the legislature.  In fact, I’m calling the State Senate race THE BIG ONE—the most important in the state for 2008, because our chances of big legislative gains are biggest in a Democratic wave year, and while Congressional candidates like Schauer are important, the redistricting of Michigan will impact MANY Congressional races for an entire decade.

The lower house wikipedia page has a map of red and blue house districts showing the expected concentration of Democrats around Detroit and the non-Lake Michigan coast, with Republicans in the Detroit Suburbs and the west end of the state. The fact that we have seized control of one chamber and are within three seats of the other in spite of the 2002 Republican Gerrymander speaks volumes about Democrats’ growing strength on the grassroots level in former Republican strongholds.

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS: Not too many on the map, but those that are, are exciting.

District 1—Bart Stupak (D). Upper peninsula, gerrymandered to include the blue coast of lake Huron all the way down to Saginaw Bay. Safe Dem.

District 2—Fred Johnson (D) v. Peter Hoekstra (Inc. R). West coast GOP territory. Johnson is a former marine who is strong on national security issues, and a good fit for the district, but not many pros have noticed this race. If you’d like to help it make the radar, that’s cool.

District 3—Henry Sanchez (D) v. Vernon Ehlers (Inc R). Grand Rapids. Sanchez has no website that I can find and is not on the map.

District 4—Andrew Concannon (D) v. David Camp (Inc R). a sprawling rural central Michigan district and a prime target for elimination if Michigan loses a district at the next census and Democrats have a say in redrawing.  Concannon is an aggressive campaigner and would make a good progressive Congressman.

District 5—Dale Kildee (Inc D). The fucktards concentrated Democrats here, squashing both Flint and Saginaw in one. The silver lining is that this is a safe D seat.

District 6—Don Cooney (D) v. Frederick Upton (Inc R). Southwest Michigan, including Benton and Kalamazoo. Supposedly safe R, but Cooney, a Kalamazoo City Councilman, is making a go of it. At least pin Upton down in the district.

District 7—Mark Schauer (D) v. Timothy Walberg (Inc R). South Central Michigan.  OK, now we’re talking! This one is the most exciting Congressional race in Michigan, and the one most likely to change hands. Walberg is a fringe right Club For Growth Ultra-Wingnut who primaried a merely wingnut conservative in 2006, and has positioned himself so far beyond the lunatic fringe that even voters in a moderately red-leaning district aren’t comfortable with him.  Schauer, the minority leader of the State Senate, is one of the best Golden Boy recruitment successes the DCCC has had, and he is on most of the red-to-blue lists.  Show him some love below.

District 8—Bob Alexander (D) v. Michael Rogers (Inc R). On paper, a light blue district in Central Michigan, including the state capital of Lansing. In practice, getting rid of Rogers has proved a tough act, and our current nominee has not done enough to bring attention to himself.  This one might have to wait for redistricting.

District 9— Gary Peters (D) v. Joseph Knollenberg (Inc R). North Detroit Suburbs. This district and the 11th were carved out of what used to be Knollenberg’s safe Red suburban stronghold, by itself and surrounded by blue districts. It’s now only half red, and bluing more with every election cycle. Peters is a state lottery commissioner and former AG nominee with plenty of experience campaigning. Next to the 7th, this is one to watch, and maybe to make a difference in.

District 10—Robert Denison (D) v. Candace Miller (Inc R). The "thumb" of Michigan, and a blue district where the frighteningly vacant-eyed Miller has been squatting and voiding her bowels for five terms. She must have some sort of Charisma in person or something, because the district demographics do not justify her taking up space in Congress from East Michigan.

Denison is my favorite kind of Democrat, a pro-labor, pro-union bluecollar asskicker with stellar working man credentials, and there is no question that he DESERVES this seat. Whether he can raise the funds to make it competitive is up to you.

District 11—Joe Larkin (D) v. Thaddeus McCotter (Inc R).  West Detroit Suburbs. See District 9, above—one solid red district made into two potentially vulnerable ones.  Larkin is doing a good job of keeping McCotter tied up in the district in this second-tier pickup opportunity, and has the potential to pull it off.

District 12—Sander Levin (Inc D). South Macomb County. This is the first of four super-safe Democratic districts created by the Republicans to concentrate Democrats and grab suburban territory in the 9th through 11th districts.

District 13—Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (Inc D) Detroit metro; Safe Dem.  Kilpatrick had to survive a primary due to scandals surrounding her son, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Having done so, she’s safe for re-election in this solid, solid blue district.

District 14—John Conyers (D).  Detroit metro. An utter, utter rock star. Safe Dem.

District 15—John Dingell (Inc D). The Ohio border, on the SE end of the state. A friend to workers and big car makers alike, if Dingell were caught raping and killing a Republican Senator’s son, the race would move to "toss up".  Beyond Safe Dem.

REDISTRICTING MICHIGAN: If Michigan loses one seat, it should be the Fourth. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Remove the Lake Huron Counties south of Alpena from the 1st, the Stupak district, and instead add Leefanau, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Roscommon and Missaukee Counties. This will still leave Stupak’s district as the most coastal-heavy district in the nation, where Stupak’s voters are.
  1. To the extent Districts 3 and 6 gain land, both should push into the southern end of the 2nd district.
  1. Divide the existing Dem-concentrated 5th district in half, with Flint in one half and Saginaw in the other.  The Flint Half will be the new 4th District, and will include the "thumb" counties of Huron, Sanilac, Lapeer, and upper St. Clair as far as Port Huron.  (Candace Miller, the occupant of the 10th, resides in Macomb County and will not be in this district) The other half will be the new 5th, and include the blue Huron Counties taken from the 1st, and will include Midland, on the east end of the 4th, as well. Kildee could run in either district, but I would hope he’d take the new 4th and let a new Democrat occupy the new 5th.
  1. What’s left of the 2nd district would extend into Osceola, Clare, Mecosta and Isabella Counties, in that order.

We now have six districts, 3 blue, 3 red.

  1. What’s left of the 4th would combine with the reddest parts of the existing 7th and 8th to become the new 7th.  The new 8th would still be based in Lansing, but would combine the bluest parts of the existing 7th and 8th. If Schauer wins in 2008, this is his district.
  1. That leaves six more districts to be made out of Detroit and its suburbs, with four super-safe incumbents, using the existing 11th through 15th Districts and the southern remains of the 12th. Sander Levin could take all of the remaining 10th and still be safe. Dingell could trade parts of his district into the 9th, 11th, or even the eastern part of the 7th. The 12th and 13th could take a big chunk out of the 9th and remain 60% Democrat. Maybe we could get all six districts Democrat, maybe we’d have to concentrate Republicans into one suburban Detroit district.

In short, Michigan could go from 6D, 9R to 9 or 10D, 4 or 5 R. Not bad for one cycle.

What do YOU think?

 Previous diaries in this series:




Texas, Part One:

Texas, Part Two:



North Carolina:






North Dakota:


California, Part one:

California, Part two:






New Mexico:



Friggin’ IDAHO:



New Jersey:


South Dakota:



Rhode Island:

Originally posted to AdmiralNaismith on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 12:12 PM PDT.


Pick a congressional hopeful who should get a prime convention speaking slot

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| 46 votes | Vote | Results

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