This is my first diary so if you have any suggestions feel free to tell me.
In 2010, Republicans won big in Michigan. As a result, Republican secured controlled all three branches of Michigan government. While Republicans controlled redistricting, they were already working with a Republican map. Democrats need to pickup
nine ten (thanks a lot Roy Schmidt) seats to end Republican control.
This diary series focuses on Democratic primary elections. The purpose of the diary is to get to know the names and profile of people that might become state representatives and to learn basic background information about each race. To prevent the diary from becoming massive I have split it into part. This first part focuses on primaries in districts that Republicans flipped in 2008.
I tried making the districts in Dave's Redistricting App (DRA). This spreadsheet summarizes the results (H/T:sawolf). The Partisan Voting Index (PVI) numbers listed in this diary are the 2010 averages. You can find the 08 number in the spreadsheet. You can refer to these maps. I found most of the information by reading newspaper articles, campaign websites, and Facebook pages.
Incumbent: Matt Huuki
Democratic Challengers: Scott Dianda, William Lucius
AVG PVI: D+5
This district is the western part of the Upper Peninsula (UP). Not much has changed but redistricting did make the district a touch more Democratic. The Democrats controlled the seat from 2000 until 2010. It is a 50.4% Obama district. Local Democrats tend to perform better in northern Michigan.
Two Democrats are running. Scott Dianda was the 2010 Democratic candidate. He served on the Calumet Village Council and owned a party store. He sold the store and became a public employee. He served as the President of MSEA AFSCME Local 5. William Lucius is an attorney that specializes in elder law and disability rights and a former Ironwood City Commissioner.
Incumbent: Ed McBroom
Democratic Challengers: Judy Nerat, Sharon Gray
2010 AVG PVI: D+2
This is another swingy district. It covers Menominee, Dickinson, and Delta Counties. The district remains unchanged from 2010. The district is a 50.6% Obama district. In 2002, Republicans took control of the district. Democrats took it back in 2008 with Judy Nerat but that victory was short lived. This seat has been won in blowout fashion by both parties.
Democrats have two options against McBroom. Former State Rep Judy Nerat wants a rematch. Nerat was also the 2006 Democratic candidate. She is a former Menominee County Road Commissioner and beauty salon owner. Sharon Gray is a CPA from Delta County. I know some people in Lansing prefer Gray because she would bring more skills to the Democratic caucus than Judy. Judy has the name recognition advantage but also has two losses. In 2008, Judy won the Democratic primary by 76 votes.
Incumbent: Frank Foster
Democratic Challengers: Jim Martin, Suzanne Shumway
AVG PVI: R+7
This district is consists of the Eastern part of the UP and the fingertips of the “Mitten.” This district is the most Republican district that contains part of the UP. It went 58% for Bush and 50.3% for McCain. Despite all of this, Gary McDowell represented this district for 6 years. It is worth noting that Frank Foster is from Petoskey, which is not part of the UP.
Two Democrats are vying for the chance the take on Foster. One is from the UP while the other is from the Mitten. Jim Martin is a Democrat from Sault Ste Marie. He is cross country coach, middle school teacher and NRA member! The NRA helped McDowell win this seat. Suzanne Shumway is a Democrat from Petoskey Michigan. She teaches English and Speech at North Central Michigan College. The territorial matchup makes this primary intriguing.
Incumbent: Peter Petallia
Democratic Challengers: Nicholas Hein, Kenneth Hubbard
AVG PVI: R+2
This district goes down the eastern coast. The previous version of district was a longtime Democratic hold until 2010. The district changed some due to redistricting. It loses three landlocked counties and gains one coastal county and part of another. These changes turn this from a district that Obama lost to one that he won. Obama won this district with 49.8%.
The two Democrats vying for this district are Nicholas Hein and Kenneth Hubbard. Hein ran for the seat in 2010 as an independent. Hubbard is a former Alpena Fire Chief and a current Alpena County Commissioner. Hubbard seems like a solid get.
Incumbent: Bruce Rendon
Democratic Challengers: Frank Izworski, Lon Johnson
AVG PVI: R+6
This race has interesting back stories. The district contains Kalkaska, Crawford, Missaukee, Roscommon, and Ogemaw Counties. It becomes more Republican after redistricting. It goes from being a 50% Obama district to 46.7%. Rendon faces a primary with 3 other Republicans.
In 2010, Bruce Rendon destroyed Van Sheltrown. This was kind of an upset because Van was trying to replace his brother Joel. Joel had replaced their brother, Dale Sheltrown. 2010 seems to be the end of the dynasty because Van is not run this year.
Frank Izworski and Lon Johnson will face off for the Democratic nomination. Mr. Izworski served on the Ogemaw Township Board. Meanwhile, Johnson has a lot going for him. He worked as a fundraiser for Al Gore. Most importantly Johnson is the husband of Julianna Smoot! If you Google him you can find a bunch of other tidbits about him.
Incumbent: Ray Franz
Democratic Challengers: Derek Bailey, Allen O'Shea
AVG PVI: R+3
The 2010 Northern Michigan blowout was not as bad in this district. Redistricting did not alter this 52.6% Obama district. The district goes down the “pinkie” of Michigan and contains Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, and Mason counties.
The Democratic primary here might become one of the most heated in the state. Derek Bailey Jr is the Tribal Chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Bailey was originally running for Congress but dropped down after some persuasion. Unfortunately, Allen O'Shea was already running for this seat. O’shea resume is impressive: he served on a public school board, as the Marilla Township Supervisor, and as a Manistee County Commissioner. In his spare time he owns a construction and renewable energy business.
Incumbent: Kurt Damrow
Democratic Challengers: Terry Brown, Richard Lee Badger
AVG PVI: R+7
This district is on the “thumb” and contains Huron and Tuscola Counties. Redistricting did not alter the district. Obama did not win this district in 2008 but Democrat Terry Brown won re-election to the State House.
Damrow beat Brown by only 30 (!) votes in 2010. Damrow faces a strong primary from Tuscola County Register of Deeds Dan Grimshaw. Normally an incumbent does not face serious primary challenges but Damrow has some serious baggage. On the Democratic side, Brown is looking to serve his final term. Brown is a minister and former union president. He should win the primary against Mr. Badger.
Incumbent: Mike Shirkey
Democratic Challengers: Steve Grace, Bonnie Johnson
AVG PVI: R+6
McCain barely won this Jackson County district with 49.2%. Jackson County can be a pretty swingy area. The district added Eaton Township during redistricting and became a little more Republican. Democrats controlled the district from 2007 to 2011.
Shirkey faces a primary challenge from Dan Fulara. Dan Fulara apparently identified himself as an Obama Republican in 2008! Democrats Steve Grace and Bonnie Johnson will face off in a primary. Grace seems somewhat of a Some Dude. He is a metal model marker that has unsuccessfully run for other positions. Johnson is a union organizer with SEIU.
Incumbent: Earl Poleski
Democratic Challengers: Barbara Shelton, Ruben Marquez II
AVG PVI: R+8
This is the more Democratic Jackson County based seat. It is a 51.7% Obama district. In 2010 Martin Griffin lost his re-election bid. Griffin is not running this year because he busy being the mayor of the City of Jackson. If Democrats run up big margins in the city, they will win this district.
Barbara Shelton and Ruben Marquez II are vying for the nomination. Barbara Shelton is a small business owner and a Rick Snyder recall organizer. Ruben Marquez II is interesting. His name might sound familiar because his father, Ruben Marquez, is the Jackson County Democrat Party Chair and is running for Congress! Both Marquez and Marquez II have primaries. Besides being his father’s son, the younger Marquez doesn’t seem impressive.
Incumbent: Nancy Jenkins
Democratic Challengers: Harvey Schmidt, Jim Berryman
AVG PVI: R+6
This Lenawee County remains untouched by redistricting. Democrats controlled the district after the 2004 elections but lost the open race in 2010. Jenkins might have a hard time getting reelected in this 51.9% Obama district.
Democrats have two pretty strong candidates in this district. First is 2010 nominee Harvey Schmidt. Schmidt is the former Mayor of Tecumseh. The second is Jim Berryman. He has not been in elected politics since 1998 but his resume is really impressive and long. He served on the Adrian City Commission in the late 70s and early 80s. Then he was appointed Mayor of Adrian and was re-elected Mayor. Then he was elected to State Senate in 1990! He became the Minority whip in his second term. He currently works with the Michigan Education Association. This primary could be really interesting.
Incumbent: Dale Zorn
Democratic Challengers: Joe Astro, Larry Crider
AVG PVI: R+0
This district changes by moving west in Monroe County. It picks up the parts of the old 55th. Some people think Monroe County might be moving towards Republicans and this election will test that hypothesis.
On the Democratic side, we have self proclaimed "progressive Democrat" Joe Astro. Based on his website he seems very excited to be running. The other Democrat is Larry Crider. According to this article, Crider ran was planning to run as Republican in 2006 but dropped out. He is a sergeant at the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.
Incumbent: Rick Olson (R) (Not Running)
Democratic Challengers: Andrea Brown-Harrison, Adam Zemke
AVG PVI: D+12
Democrats WILL take back this Washtenaw County district. In 2010, Republicans won two districts in Washtenaw County (District 55 and District 52). We had a terribly bad candidate in the 55th and they had a really good candidate in the 52th. Redistricting complete changed the 55th. The district had to lose the Monroe County portion due to population growth. In addition, Republicans knew it would be impossible to retain both districts so they tried protecting the 52th at the expense of the 55th. This map shows the changes. Rather than being the sacrificial lamb, Rick Olson retired.
The Democratic primary is the election. Andrea Brown-Harrison is a Pittsfield Township Trustee. She also worked in the Michigan State Senate, for a television station, and as a teacher. Adam Zemke is the favorite to win. Zemke is a 29 year old mechanical engineer. He lost a race for county commission in 2010. Adam’s profile might seem a little underwhelming but his endorsement list is impressive.
Incumbent: Anthony Forlini
Democratic Challengers: Phillip Kurczewski, Carey Torrice
AVG PVI: R+6
Democrats took this district in 2008 but lost it in 2010. Anthony Forlini barely won with 51.6% of the vote. Republicans looked to protect him with redistricting and turned a 51.3% Obama district into a 50.6% one. The district changed substantially.
Two Democrats are trying to unseat Forlini. One is Phillip Kurczewski and I can’t find much about him. His website does not have content on it yet, but it is featured on the House Dems Campaign Website. He may be wealthy because he apparently is a member of a yacht club. The other is former Macomb County Commissioner Carey Torrice. Torrice is an interesting character. For all the stories you can Google her. Some highlights include being named hottest politician by TMZ and being convicted for setting her father’s home on fire to collect insurance money.
To take back the State House of Representatives the Democrats will need to win at least half of these races. Districts 55, 57, 84, and 101 are the most likely to flip. Winning 2 or 3 of the remaining 9 districts is very doable. In the upcoming diary I will discuss the primaries in flippable Republican districts. In addition I will introduce the incumbent-v-incumbent primaries.
Feel free to give me suggestions and advice for the next entry.
10:53 PM PT: I forgot a district in the first go around. I added district 56 to the list.