Friday, August 12, 2005

Part Four (of Four) Michigan House Preview

District 80 – All of Van Buren County, Watson Twp and Otsego city/Twp in Allegan County – Currently Republican

This district has a republican leaning, but is not one to be taken for granted. Tonya Schuitmaker is the current representative and defeated Democrat Art Toy with 58.30% President Bush however only received 51.94% in this district. Van Buren County narrowly went for Bush twice, last time with 51.60%. Only a small portion of Allegan County is in this district, and Otsego is marginally republican. If the democrats have a good year, this district may be up for grabs.

District 83 – All of Sanilac County, Port Huron, Fort Gratiot twp, and Burchville Twp in St Clair County – Currently Democrat

This district went democrat because the Republicans ran a candidate so inept, that even the party chair endorsed the democrat. John Espinoza won this formerly republican open seat with 55.50% of the vote. President Bush carried this district with 54.16% of the vote. Usually there is a voter drop off down ticket since some people just vote for the president. However, more people voted for Espinoza than for Bush. In 1998, Espinoza ran for a similar district (Sanilac and Lapeer Counties) against the now term limited rep Steve Ehardt, who won with 55% of the vote. I expect this race to be target number one in 2006 for the Republicans. Sanilac County went 60.84% for Bush. Fort Gratiot is marginally republican. Burchville Twp swings, and Port Huron leans Democrat, but not enough to swing a race barring a GOP disaster, and Espinoza even won Sanilac county, as well as Port Huron. This is a very culturally conservative district, so if Espinoza caves to pressure on votes among democrats, it could cost him re-election. If the NRA and Right to Life back him for re-election, it may be enough to hold on, as the thumb tends to vote the person over the party.

District 85 – All of Shiawassee County, Bath Twp, Ovid Twp, Victor Twp, and part of East Lansing in Clinton County – Currently Republican

This was one of the major open seat battles in 2006. Dr. Richard Ball won this open seat for the Republicans with 52.67% of the vote. President Bush won this district with 52.77% of the vote. Before 1998, a democrat held the Shiawassee County based district for years. He was term limited out, and Larry Julian took this district for the Republicans. Shiawassee County is starting to become more exurban on its edges. It has a large population of conservative democrats, which makes this county a battle. Bush won it with 49% in 2000, and Posthumus took it with slightly over 51% in 2002 so the GOP numbers are improving here. State Senator Valde Garcia and Congressman Mike Rogers won here easily as well. As for the Clinton County portion of the district, Ovid and Victor twp are both solidly republican and cancel out East Lansing and Bath Twp. Bath Twp swings, but is becoming more democrat as Michigan State Student Apartments are popping up there. East Lansing is solid democrat here as it is in Ingham County, although there were only 373 voters in this part of the city. This district is moving our way.

District 91 – Blue Lake Twp, Casnovia Twp, Cedar Creek Twp, Dalton Twp, Egelston Twp, Fruitport Twp, Holton Twp, Montague City and Twp, Moorland Twp, Norton Shores, Raveena Twp, Roosevelt Park, Sullivan Twp, White River Twp, and Whitehall City and Twp in Muskegon County. Chester Twp in Ottawa County – Currently Republican

This district has been competitive the last few elections. Rep. David Farhat narrowly won an open seat in 2002 against Nancy Frye by 442 votes, and won the rematch with 52.03%. President Bush carried this district with 51.56% of the vote. This district covers most of Muskegon County outside of the city itself. Norton Shores and Fruitport are the most populous areas in this district and is marginally republican. Egelston Twp is the most democrat area in this district. Most areas in this district are competitive, and I expect the democrats to try and take this again in 06 and 08.

District 97 – All of Arenac, Gladwin, and Clare Counties. Fraser twp, Garfield twp, Gibson twp, Kawkawlin twp, Mount Forest twp, and Pinconning city/twp in Bay County – Currently Republican

This was a pickup for the GOP in 2006. Tim Moore defeated Jennifer Elkins with 51.66% of the vote, even though John Kerry narrowly carried this district with 49.79%. This is a socially conservative and economically liberal district. Elkins vote against a ban on gay marriage likely was the cause for her defeat. This district will likely be a major battle for years to come unless there is a strong candidate. Bush won Gladwin County by 427 votes, Clare County (Which Gore won) by 104 votes, and lost Arenac County by 6 votes. The Northern Bay County townships tilt this district slightly to the democrats, although I did not expect Moore to run ahead of Bush in central/northern Michigan as it is more democrat at the local level. It is one of those areas where they SHOULD be republican as they are all conservative, but many still believe that “democrats are for the working man.” The democrat abandoned the working man when they embraced George Soros.

District 99 – All of Isabella County, Coleman, Edenville twp, Geneva Twp, Greendale Twp, Hope Twp, Jasper Twp, Jerome Twp, Larkin Twp, Lee Twp, Lincoln Twp, Mills twp, Porter Twp, and Warren Twp in Midland County – Currently Republican

Bill Caul won this seat taking over for his wife Sandy. He won with 56.78% of the vote and President Bush won the district with 51.13% of the vote. Redistricting helped out this district a bit as it was once Clare and Isabella counties instead of parts of Midland which is more Republican. This seat leans GOP, but it is not a gimme as Mt Pleasant itself is a college town that goes democrat. If they turn out heavy and the rest of the district stays home, this could be an upset.

District 103 - Iosco, Missaukee, Ogemaw, and Roscommon Counties – Currently Democrat

This district is a case of the right last name. Dale Sheltrown was a very popular pro-2a democrat who held this district. Joel Sheltrown, who is related, (brother I believe), ran in 2006, and won with 56.51% in a district President Bush carried with 54.04% of the vote. This district is more democrat at the local level however. While President Bush won every county, Gore narrowly carried Iosco, Ogemaw, and Roscommon Counties in 2000. In 2004, Bush received 52.13% in Iosco, 50.52% in Ogemaw, and 51.28% in Roscommon. Missaukee is by percentage the 2nd most Republican in the state year after year. Bush received 68.12% there in 2004. It is the smallest county in the district however. I expect this district to be safe as long as Joel Sheltrown votes similarly to Dave Sheltrown. However, there is no reason this district should not be ours.

District 106 - Alcona, Alpena, Crawford, Montmorency, Oscoda, and Presque Isle Counties – Currently Democrat

The democrats have held this swing district for years due to Alpena which has a union tilt. While President Bush has carried this district with 54.08% of the vote, it is much more democrat at the local level. Alpena is the most democrat county in Northern Lower Michigan, and it was an upset win for Bush in 2004(50.39%). Granholm received 56% there, and in local elections, Granholm’s numbers are closer to the truth. Incumbent Matt Gillard won that district with 58.27% in 2004, and his predecessor Andy Neuman was also popular there. 1/3 of the voters are in Alpena County. Presque Isle is the 2nd most populous county and tilts democrat at the local level, and marginally GOP at the state level. Oscoda and Montmorency are solidly republican, but small counties. Crawford County and Alcona County lean Republican.

District 107 - Chippewa, Emmet, and Mackinac Counties, Koehler and Tuscarora Townships in Cheboygan County – Currently Democrat

The democrats took this open seat away from the Republicans in 2004 thanks to the NRA. State Senator Walt North voted against a Morning Dove hunting bill in 2000. It lost by one vote. He was term limited out in 2002, and ran for State Rep in 2004 when Scott Shakleton was term limited. The NRA gave North an undeserved F rating (he did vote for Concealed Carry). He slipped once, and should have gotten a C. If they can give anti-gun Joe Schwarz a B- (he really deserves an F), then could have done the same for North. Democrat challenger Gary McDowell got an A rating and the NRA endorsement and won the district with 53.53% - in a district Bush carried with 57.37%. One lesson to be learned – never tick off the NRA in Northern Michigan. Gun ownership is a strong part of Michigan culture in general, but even more so up North. Emmet County is 59% Republican year in and out. Mackinac and Chippewa Counties are marginally Republican; although President Bush did very well in both of them with 55% and 56% The two Cheboygan County townships are also strongly Republican. This one should be ours in 2006. This is the most GOP district held by a democrat.

District 108 - Delta, Dickinson, and Menominee Counties – Currently Republican – Currently Republican

Representative Tom Casperson won in a big upset here in 2002 over Bart Stupak’s wife, Laurie. He won re-election with 68.99% of the vote, so he is probably safe in 2006 as well. This district is a swing district which President Bush won with 52.83%, although it is more democrat at the local levels. Dickinson County went 57% for Bush which is higher than normal. Menominee went 52%, which is about normal. Delta County went 50.32% for Bush and has a democrat streak, although Bush won it twice and Granholm once. I expect a major fight here in 2008.

District 110 - Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keewenaw, and Onontagon Counties. Powell Twp in Marquette County – Currently Democrat

This is a slightly democrat leaning district that Bush won with 52.44% of the vote. Rich Brown is the incumbent and won here with 68.13% of the vote with a rather strong Constitution party showing. Three of the areas here are strong democrat - Powell Twp, Gogebic County, and Iron County. Gogebic and Iron Counties are closely tied to the Northern Wisconsin and NE Minnesota’s Iron range in politics. It’s stubbornly democrat, although Bush won Iron County by 9 votes in 2004. The republicans can win this seat with a strong showing in Houghton County which is the most populous and most Republican county in the Western UP. Houghton balances out the three main democrat counties, putting most of the decision in Baraga, Keewenaw, and Ontonagon. This seat is winnable when Brown is term limited, although tradition is strong here, and the democrats of the UP are much different from national democrats.

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