First, in a surprise to few, Lansing Mayor and former State Senator/State Rep Virg Bernero is running for governor. That makes things interesting. Virg is unknown outside of the Lansing area, but that won't be the case for long. He has a lot of detractors and supporters. One thing I will respect about Virg is that he doesn't mince words much and isn't afraid of speaking his mind. I think he's a real threat to win, much more than any of the names mentioned by the democrats so far. Andy Dillon, Denise Ilitch, Alma Smith, Bob "I don't live in Michigan" Bowman. Virg will work hard and if he loses, it won't be because of lazy campaigning. The GOP is going to have to bring it, no matter who the nominee is on either side, but especially if it's Virg, because he'll be bringing it. I guarantee people will know who he is by the time the primary ends.
Secondly, Justin Amash, a state rep from Kent County has announced he is running for the 3rd Congressional District. From Mlive
ustin Amash, 29, a first-term Republican state representative from Kentwood, announced on his Facebook page minutes ago that he will seek the 3rd District Congressional seat held by Vern Ehlers.
He set up a Web site that touts his record of supporting limited government.
Ehlers, 76, said he would announce Wednesday whether he will seek a ninth term. The district includes Barry, Ionia and all but a sliver of Kent counties.
If Ehlers does run again, he has plenty of cash on hand ($489,645) and raised a healthy $133,786 in the past quarter. The district remains solidly Republican, although the Grand Rapids population base leans Democratic.
Amash's Web site says fellow state representatives Dave Agema, R-Grandville, Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, and Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, all have endorsed his Congressional bid.
Thirdly, speculation is that Vern Ehlers is retiring. That would fit Amash's announcement. Expect a primary. From Hotline
Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI 03) will announce his retirement at a 10 a.m. presser tomorrow morning, according to a MI-based source.
A press release from Ehler's office says the presser "follow[s] speculation about his plans to continue serving" in the House. Several GOP sources tell Hotline OnCall his wife had a heart attack last week, further lending credence to speculation he will step aside.
The 2/10 announcement will come a day after state Rep. Justin Amash (R) announced a primary challenge to Ehlers.
This Grand Rapids-based seat, under the right circumstances, is a potential pickup opportunity for Dems. In the '08 Dem wave, and with the GOP virtually conceding MI, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) eked out a 49%-49% win over Pres. Obama. But in much better times for the GOP in '04, George W. Bush won a comfortable 59-40% win over Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). The current enviro., both nationally and in MI, indicate that GOPers should be in a much safer place to hold this open seat. Ehlers, meanwhile, has never won with less than 61%.
Besides Amash, a GOP source names state Sen. Bill Hardiman (R) as a potential candidate. Hardiman, an African-American, represents a Grand Rapids-based seat in the Legislature, and was former mayor of Kentwood.
This seat should stay ours, but I am a little concerned about it. There's my recent update of the 3rd district.
Assuming this is now an open district, the keys are what kind of a primary we're going to have, and who the democrats are going to throw out for this. I think the good news for us and this district is that the 29th District state senate seat is opening up, since I expect the top democrat candidates to run for that instead because it's an easier district. I think Steve Pestka, Michael Sak, Roy Schmidt, George Heartwell, and Robert Dean could make things more difficult in keeping this seat if there is a divided primary. One on one, I'm not worried. A five on one Joe Schwarz special from 2004 worries me, especially if the democrat is pro-life. (if not, our odds of winning double)
There's a lot of people I can see running for this seat. Some I prefer to others. Justin Amash and Bill Hardiman are mentioned, but I'd watch for former Lt Governor Dick Posthumus, Jerry Zandstra, one of the Glenn Steils, Ken Sikkema, Mark Jansen, Brian Calley, Gary Newell, Kevin Green, or Tom Pearce to make a run, along with a possible countywide officer from Kent County. With Bouchard's early polling numbers, would Terri Lynn Land drop her Lt Governor bid for a Congressional run? (I'm probably going to hear about that comment later. Pure speculation, nothing more.) If the primary looks like it may be divisive, look for that "safe choice" to be recruited. I expect that to be either Land or Posthumus. If either of them run, I think they would be the favorites. If not, this will be wide open for the taking and I haven't followed all the ins and outs of Kent County politics to make a good guess.
This one will be quite interesting.