Michigan’s statewide primary elections are tomorrow, and most of us probably won’t bother to vote.
And that’s too bad. Too bad for us, that is. Our first statewide primary was the presidential one in March, and it set an all-time turnout record. More than two and a half million people voted.
That was, however, only a little more than one-third of those eligible to vote. Tomorrow’s election is arguably more important. Dozens of state legislators are term-limited out. A few other incumbents are being challenged, and this is your chance to replace them. I should have said, only chance.
Most districts are gerrymandered to be completely safe for one party, so the primary is really your only chance to influence things.
So you might want to find out where your particular candidates stand on helping Flint, or actually doing something about our collapsing infrastructure. How about on making it possible for kids to go to better schools and afford higher education, as opposed to spending more billions on our state’s prisons?
State Representative Brian Banks of Detroit has been convicted of eight felonies and is charged with three more. Do his voters really want him to represent them for another two years in Lansing?
There are races for judges and sheriffs and clerks and a whole slew of money – millage – requests that could make a huge and dramatic difference in the quality of your life.
When it comes to Congress, there’s a huge race in the Republican primary in the district that includes most of the thumb, where incumbent Candice Miller is retiring.
One of the candidates spent millions two years ago trying to win a seat in Congress on the other side of the state, and has now, like a fisherman looking to change his luck, is now seeing if he can get a sufficient number of bites from voters here.
If I told you the other candidates didn’t resent that, I’d be lying.
There are slugfests in both party primaries for Congress up north, for the state’s only district that has no incumbent and which either party could conceivably win.
There’s a three-way battle on the Republican side, featuring two candidates from the Upper Peninsula and one from the Lower, and a two-way fight on the Democratic side, between former state party chair Lon Johnson and the man he originally recruited to run for the seat, former Kalkaska Sheriff Jerry Cannon.
My guess is that they won’t be spending Thanksgiving together. Perhaps the most overlooked race is the Democratic primary in one of Detroit’s two congressional districts, where 87-year-old John Conyers, who has been in office fifty-two years, is being challenged by Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, who is thirty years younger. She is vibrant, smart, has considerably improved her office in Detroit since first elected ten years ago, and is generally respected for competency and integrity.
Congressman Conyers, who accomplished a good deal in years gone by, is sometimes lucid these days, but is still expected to win easily. No matter where you live, there are almost certainly important things on the ballot tomorrow.
But sadly, I doubt if even half the number of people who voted in March will show up. I would be thrilled if you help prove me wrong.
Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.