Congressional District 9
Republican Candidates – Joe Knollenberg (Bloomfield Hills
Democrat Candidates – Nancy Skinner (Birmingham)
Current Rep – Joe Knollenberg (R-Bloomfield Hills)
Years in office – 13 (1993-present)
Joe Knollenberg – 58.45%
Steven Reifman – 36.90%
2004 (Approximate – my numbers)
Bush - 50.45%
Kerry – 48.63%
Bush – 51%, Bush 51%
Kerry – 49%, Gore 47%
Cook’s partisan index – Republicans +0
Republican Michigander’s prognosis – Strongly Republican.
Oakland County :
Bloomfield, Oakland, Southfield (not city), West Bloomfield, and most of Orion and Waterford Townships. Cities of Auburn Hills, Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Clawson, Farmington Hills, Farmington, Keego Harbor, Lake Angelus, Orchard Lake, Pontiac, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Sylvan Lake, Troy, and most of Royal Oak(City, not township).
This district was designed to give Knollenberg a safer seat than he had in the 1990’s, but not at the expense of Mike Rogers or Thad McCotter. Knollenberg had his closest race in 2000 with 56% against a sacrificial lamb. Gore won that district, so things were changed in redistricting. The media claimed that Knollenberg was given a more democrat district. That is not true.
He kept Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Keego Harbor, Southfield Township, Sylvan Lake, and West Bloomfield Township from 2000. Farmington Hills is treading democrat as is West Bloomfield, but Knollenberg wins there consistantly.
He gave up democrat strongholds Southfield and Lathrup Village to Sander Levin. Those two areas alone gave a 28000 vote spread to Kerry, well over the 2750 votes seperating Bush and Kerry at the county level. Giving up Southfield was a win in itself. He did give up the heavily republican Western portion of Oakland County to Thad McCotter, as well is leaner Livonia and democrat leaning Redford Township in Wayne County. In return, Knollenberg took swing areas Berkley and Clawson, GOP Stronghold Troy, and most of democrat leaning Royal Oak from Sander Levin. Troy isn’t the stronghold it was, but gave a 6000 vote spread for Bush, more than the 3600 vote spread Royal Oak gave Kerry. From Dale Kildee, Knollenberg took Democrat stronghold Pontiac, Democrat leaning Auburn Hills, GOP leaning Waterford, and GOP strongholds Lake Angelus, Rochester, and Rochester Hills. He also took most of Orion Township, although not the part where Jim Marcinkowski lives. Pontiac gave a 13000 vote spread for Kerry. Orion gave approx 1000 and the Rochesters 8500 to Bush. Overall, the district is very competitive with the right candidates. Bush won here by 6565 votes.
Democrats took a shot with David Fink in 2002, but Knollenberg beat him easily with 58%. He repeated his 58% win against sacrificial lamb Reifman in 2004. He still runs well in the formerly GOP areas treading democrat, so this district has not had the challenges that some other affluent suburban districts have had, like in the Chicago area.
In both 2002 and 2004 Knollenberg won every municipality outside of Pontiac.
The dems are trying again this year, and four candidates want to take him on. The two names I hear most are John Ashcraft and Nancy Skinner. Skinner is an Air America host who ran in Illinois against Barack Obama in 2004. She decided to move back to Royal Oak to run here now. Lucky us. These are all “B team” candidates, but there are some strong democrats and republicans in this district who are waiting for Knollenberg to retire. Mike Bouchard (If he loses the senate primary), Bob Gosselin, Shirley Johnson, David Law, Marc Shulman, Fran Amos, Mike Bishop, Shelley Taub, and Rocky Raczkowski could all make this a race. David Woodward and Gary Peters would be very strong democrats.
Knollenberg has a primary of his own against more liberal republican and anti-gun activist Pan Godchaux. Godchaux is a former state rep from the Birmingham area just next to Knollenberg’s main base. I haven’t heard much here about the primary, but I don’t expect this to be a major challenge for Knollenberg. I suspect Godchaux is running to increase her name recognition for an open seat in the future.
Based on current partisanship, I have to give this race a “leans republican” designation as long as Knollenberg is running. If it opens, this seat will be a true tossup for either party.
UPDATE - The democrats are unified now behind Nancy Skinner. I'm now changing this from leans republican to strongly republican since an Air America host only has a ghost of a chance, especially after her disaster run for US Senate in 2004 - in Illinois.
UPDATE 2 - 8/11/06 - Joe Knollenberg won against a spirited challenge from Pan Godchaux.
Knollenberg - 46,713
Godchaux - 20,211