Washtenaw County is shaping up as a key battleground for control of the state Legislature in the 2006 election.
At least two of the four state House seats represented in the county will have strong candidates from both major political parties, and a third in Democratic-heavy Ann Arbor will be open for the first time in six years because of term limits.
Ann Arbor City Councilman Leigh Greden, D-3rd Ward, and Rebekah Warren, former head of MARAL Pro-Choice Michigan, have declared their intentions to run for the 53rd District state House seat being vacated by Chris Kolb, D-Ann Arbor,
The Ann Arbor centered 53rd district is solid democrat. Chris Kolb is termed out and will be replaced. The real fight is in the primary there.
The 52nd District was a pickup for the democrats in 2004. Gene DeRossett was termed out in 2004, and had a close fight in a slightly democrat leaning district in 2002 against Pam Bynes who is the current representative. County Commissioner Mark Ouimet (R) from heavily democrat Scio Twp could give Byrnes a strong challenge. This district covers most of the county. The rural parts are Republican, while the Scio, Ann Arbor Twp, and Ann Arbor City portions are democrat. It went 54% for John Kerry, so Byrnes will be tough to beat.
The 55th District should be a close contest. Kathy Angerer defeated libertarian Republican Matt Milosch in a populist district some of the more Republican parts of Monroe County, as well as part of Washtenaw. There is a clash of conservative Republicans, "Dingell Democrats", and "Ann Arbor Democrats" in this district. It went 50.22% for John Kerry. The Monroe Part was 52.66% for Bush, Washtenaw 54.83% for Kerry due to Pittsfield Township near Ann Arbor and Ypsi. Milosch may want a rematch.
The 17th Senate District is a tough open seat. Bev Hammerstrom is termed out. This district went 50.89% for Bush, and covers all of Monroe County, as well as parts of Jackson (Leoni Township, Grass Lake, Norvell and Summitt Townships) and Washtenaw County (Saline, York, Milan, Manchester, Lodi Twp, Bridgewater Twp, and Pittsfield Townships). Former Reps Randy Richardville and Gene DeRossett would be strong candidates. The democrats may be running Robert Schockman, Bedford Township Clerk.
It'll be interesting to see who runs. These all (outside of Kolb's district) should be strongly contested races.