Update 3-31-14 - Former State Senator Mike Bishop and Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, both from the Rochester area are running.
A new era is beginning here in the 8th District.
(Full disclosure, I did some work for Sen. Joe Hune in his 2010 campaign)
With Mike Rogers retiring, things have significantly changed here. The 8th District leans Republican, but isn't a safe district with Mike Rogers retiring. It went for the dems at the top of the ticket in 2006 and 2008, and went for the Republicans in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2010, and 2012. I went over the presidential numbers in depth here and explored an open possibility here. I'm not going to rehash the presidential numbers much or the top of the ticket numbers much here. In an Republican year, we win. In a neutral year, we probably win, but candidate quality will matter more. In a bad year, we better have a damn good candidate. The top of the ticket will have its own variables. We have to control what we control, and that means voting for a good candidate in this August primary, whomever it may be.
There's a lot of rumors going on about candidates who are and who aren't running. I'm not going to do a lot of speculation except to say that oftentimes the national reporters don't have any idea what they are talking about. If the person doesn't live in the district or have ties to the district, the person won't be a serious candidate more than likely. Especially if the districts don't all run together (like the Bloomfield area in the 9th, 11th, and 14th). The 8th isn't like that outside of a small part of Rochester Hills which is in both districts (mostly in the 8th).
Politics 1 mentions Saul Anuzis, Bryan Barnett, Mike Bishop, Mike Bouchard, Craig DeRoche, Gail Haines, Joe Hune, Rick Jones, Jim Marleau, Tom McMillin, Barb Byrum, Sam Singh, and Peter Spadafore as possible candidates (In addition to the two announced dems Ken Darga and Susan Grettenberger). There was very little research done there and by the national press. Mike Bouchard and Craig DeRoche both live in the 11th District nowhere near the 8th. Birmingham and Novi. Jones is in Grand Ledge, in the 7th District. He's never represented any of the 8th. Gail Haines is in the 11th, and only represents a small part of the 8th. I don't expect many of those to be serious contenders. This is not a carpetbagging friendly area, especially away from Oakland County. One better have some good ties here at minimum. Bill Rogers has announced he's not running. Joe Hune and Mike Bishop are significant names who would be contenders if they choose to run. They are considering. Saul Anuzis who lives in Lansing (although the Eaton County side - barely) announced he is considering. Bryan Barnett (Rochester Hills Mayor) has apparently announced he's running. If Brad Jacobsen, Tom McMillin, or Jim Marleau run, they certainly can't be counted out. I have not heard interest expressed by them, but this is a very recent announcement. On the dem side, I expect Barb Byrum to run. The other names I've heard there are sacrificial lamb candidates. Byrum would be a tougher candidate.
The filing deadline is April 22nd. This is significant. I'll be real blunt here. There's a petition requirement of 1000 valid signatures. That means 1500-2000 are more likely needed, and not "McCotter campaign staff" style. That means there isn't much time. Three weeks. Whoever jumps in now has to have serious organization, or the ability to raise enough money to hire petition circulators. Anyone that doesn't have instant organization to do that is wasting their time, their money, staff time, and volunteer time. I don't want to lose this seat to a democrat. The easiest way to see that happen is for there to be poor organization on the R side and a bad candidate due to that.
So who would be the strongest candidates?
That's a question where we would need an educated guess. I'm going to look at four potential Republican candidates for now in alphabetical order as these the names I've heard the most. Saul Anuzis. Bryan Barnett. Mike Bishop. Joe Hune. On the dem side, the only potential with any chance that I can see at this point is Barb Byrum. (Gretchen Whitmer isn't running).
I'll start with the democrat, Byrum. Barb Byrum won three races in a borderline swing/slightly democrat district in Ingham County, along with the Ingham County Clerk position. Byrum's old district, the old HD-67 covers rural Ingham County, Mason, Delhi Township, and Southwest Lansing. I believe she's in the Mason or Leslie area. Dianne represented Onondaga. The Byrums have some strength in rural Ingham County, although their real base in the portion of Lansing in their district. This is the least democrat state rep district in the county, as the other two districts are all of Lansing or overwhelmingly East Lansing/Meridian Twp based.
Unfortunately, most of the analysis is through wave elections (06, 08, 10) so it's of limited use. However, Byrum probably has to match 2006 Granholm or 2008 Obama numbers to have a chance to win.
Overall, she'll need to get numbers similar to Obama/Granholm in 06/08 if she's going to have a good shot winning. That means about 57% or better in the district. Mike Rogers always won this state rep district. Byrum got about 58-59% in 2006 and 63% in 2008. 2010 was a scare for her, but she survived. 2012 was countywide and she got 68%. Lansing turnout will be the biggest key for her.
Saul Anuzis has never held elected office. He's been a Legislative Chief of Staff, a consultant, a State Party Chair, and an RNC Committeeman. He's been very active behind the scenes, but this would be new territory.
I don't know much about Bryan Barnett. He won his Rochester Hills mayoral election easily in 2011. 77.29% to 22.46%. He won in 2007 with a similar margin. Most of Rochester Hills is in the 8th District, but only as of the 2012 election. It's a big jump from mayor to Congress, even in a city of 71,000. It's slightly smaller than a state rep district.
Mike Bishop is former Senate Majority Leader and State Rep. He ran for St Senate in 2002 and 2006 winning easily. He ran for AG at a convention and lost a tight race to Bill Schuette. No shame there. He lost to Jessica Cooper in the 2012 election for prosecutor by 5%. Straight tickets in places like Pontiac and Southfield did him in. The area he lost was not in the 8th district.
Bishop had mostly wave elections as well during his career, although 2000 and 2002 weren't waves. In 1998, John Engler was an incumbent and had Geoffrey Fieger as an opponent. Todd Akin post gaffe would win against Fieger. Bishop ran 5% behind Engler, but got 70%+ in his district.
In 2000, he ran 8-10% better than Bush across the board. Nothing overlapped with Mike Rogers as none of his district at the time was in the 8th. Bishop was in the 1990's incarnation of HD-45 which was Addison Twp, Orion Twp, Oxford Twp, Oakland Twp, Rochester, and part of Rochester Hills. It was a blood red district and still is today. North Oakland outside of Holly Twp is as Republican as Livingston County (Rochester area less R, but still safe)
In 2002, Bishop ran for State Senate and won. SD-15 at the time has much of the North Oakland part now in the 8th at the same period. The district has Addison Twp, Clarkston, Independence Twp, Oakland Twp (now 8th, wasn't then), Orion Twp, Oxford Twp, Rochester (now 8th, wasn't then) , and Rochester Hills (most now in 8th, wasn't then). It also had Auburn Hills, Keego Harbor, Lake Angelus, Pontiac, and Sylvan Lake which is in other districts. He ran ahead of Posthumus across the board, by major numbers outside of Pontiac. He ran slightly ahead of Mike Rogers (1-2%) in most of the district outside of Independence and Clarkston which was within 1%.
2006 was a bad year, but Bishop won easily, albeit with 56% instead of 62%. He ran well ahead of DeVos outside of Pontiac and Keego Harbor, and by 10%+ better in his home turf of Rochester/Rochester Hills. Like 2002, he ran slightly ahead of Rogers outside of Independence/Clarkston (less than 1% variation). Pontiac is a straight ticket graveyard without base areas outvoting it. Auburn Hills is tough territory. They don't matter in the 8th.
2012 was a little different. Bishop ran slightly ahead of Romney in the 8th District part of the district when going for prosecutor. He ran behind Rogers across the board outside of Rochester and Clarkston. That's due to Rogers facing Lance Enderle who was a sacrificial lamb. Bishop challenged a strong incumbent in Jessica Cooper (was a judge before prosecutor). Not surprising, Bishop was much stronger in the Eastern part of Oakland County in the 8th district. Here's a map, because it has probably the best comparisons. The red is where he ran ahead of Romney by over 2%. The "dark salmon" is where he ran ahead by 0-2%. The light blue is where he ran behind by 0-2%. He didn't run behind Romney anywhere by a significant margin.
This is the only time where Bishop was held to what is slightly better than "generic R." Bishop got 59.92% in North Oakland compared to Romney's 58.35% (and Rogers 63.42%). Even so, he's still quite strong in Orion Twp, Oakland Twp, and the Rochester area. That's his base.
The last potential candidate here is Joe Hune. In 2002, Livingston County went big for Republicans overall. Rogers was at his height in popularity, and also had a D- opponent. Hune ran well behind Rogers in his first race - except in his home base of Handy Twp where he ran ahead of even Mike Rogers breaking 80% there. Hune running 7% behind Mike Rogers isn't to be confused that with weakness. Hune won the general election with 68% to Rogers 75%. Both ran ahead of the top of the ticket by significant margins. Posthumus got 61.28%, Hune 68.85%, and Rogers 75.85%.
In 2004, Hune has his best year by percentage. He ran 9% ahead of Bush, and even ahead of Rogers, although by less than 1%. He ran strongly ahead of Bush everyone. The red is where he ran ahead of Rogers by 2%. The black is where he ran ahead by 5% or more. The "dark salmon" is where he ran ahead 0-2%. Light blue is where Rogers ran 0-2% ahead. The blue is where Rogers ran 3-5%+ Keep in mind that in his weaker areas, he still ran well ahead of Bush - and Bush won the district with 61.85%. Hune and Rogers broke 70%.
2006 was a rougher year. DeVos was held to 55.82% in the district. Hune had 61.56% and Rogers 62.15%. He didn't run ahead of Rogers this time, but here's the map with the same codes.
2010 was a wave year and Rogers and Snyder both got over 71%. Hune ran behind them a bit for an open seat (ran almost even in his base area), but still got almost 68%. Rogers is originally from Brighton Township, so that factors into the difference with Rogers. This is the first time Hune represented that part of the county.
Again, the thing to remember is that Mike Rogers is generally the gold standard of Republican electoral performance in this district. In all except one race, Mike Bishop ran well ahead of the ticket. In all races, except the 2010 wave, Joe Hune ran well ahead of the ticket. Neither of these two would drag down the ticket. This is not measuring "weakness", but extra strength needed to go into a congressional run in case of trouble against a democrat.
If Hune, Bishop, Anuzis, Barnett, or someone else gets numbers ahead of the top of the ticket in a neutral or wave election, we'll be fine. If we have someone that underperforms, we're in trouble.
The announcement about Rogers not running is two days ago, so there's a lot of behind the scenes rumors, measuring, jockeying, and organization going on right now. There is not a major window with the quick filing deadline. Expect some decisions to be made fast, and for a lot of people to get behind a candidate (or two) quickly so this person gets on the ballot.
Let's hope for a good clean primary with minimum mudslinging, and hope the best candidate wins.