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With Clinton in the lead, Mich. Dems eye down-ballot races

Aug 28, 2016

The focus is on the November elections with the Republican and Democratic summer nominating conventions wrapped up. Democrats, following their meeting over the weekend in Lansing, are hoping presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will lead them to a string of down-ballot victories if she wins the White House.

“We know in Michigan, that when our voters turn out, we win,” says Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon. “Our voters tend to turn out better in presidential elections, but this is an interesting year.”

Dillon says his fear is that support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is below the radar. But most polls show Clinton with a commanding lead in Michigan, and Democrats want to capitalize on that. The big prize would be winning control of the state House, and forcing Governor Rick Snyder and the GOP-controlled state Senate to negotiate with Democrats for the next two years. 

State House Minority Leader Tim Griemel, D-Pontiac, is in line to become speaker if his party can wrest control from the Republicans. That would require flipping nine seats. But Greimel says that seems possible this year.

“We know that Democratic turnout will be better in this presidential year than it was in the 2014 gubernatorial year,” he says. “We know that the Republican brand has been badly damaged in the state of Michigan because of the Flint (water) tragedy.”

The Clinton campaign also has more offices and paid staff in Michigan than the Trump campaign.

Polls suggest that Michigan is not a battleground state. But Republicans are trying to make it one. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will return to campaign in Detroit on Saturday.

The Democratic convention nominated candidates for university and state education boards, as well as two seats on the Michigan Supreme Court. Delegates also adopted a platform that calls for debt-free college, a tax overhaul, and increasing the minimum wage. 

Democratic nominations adopted this past weekend:

Michigan Supreme Court

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Frank Szymanski

Michigan State Board of Education

Board President John Austin (incumbent)

Ismael Ahmed

Michigan State University Board of Trustees

Trustee Dianne Byrum (incumbent)

Diann Woodard

University of Michigan Board of Regents

Regent Lawrence Deitch (incumbent)

Regent Denise Illitch (incumbent)

Wayne State University Board of Governors

Mark Gaffney

Yvette Anderson