Politics
5:35 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

What does Roy Schmidt's switch say about politics in Lansing?

Every Thursday we take a look at Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

The big political story in Michigan this week was the decision from Representative Roy Schmidt to switch his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican, about 10 minutes before the filing deadline for this fall’s election.

This November, Schmidt will try to hold onto his House seat in Michigan’s 76th district, which includes Grand Rapids.

Demas said the timing is significant because it didn’t give Democrats time to find another candidate. Now Democrats can choose to start a write-in campaign, which “the odds of that working are pretty slim," Demas said.

On Tuesday, a man named Matt Mojzak also filed late, but as a Democrat running in the same district.

The Associated Press reported today:

Matt Mojzak submitted an affidavit Thursday withdrawing from the race for the 76th state House seat. He filed to run two days earlier.

State Rep. Roy Schmidt of Grand Rapids announced his party switch Tuesday.

His move angered Democrats because Schmidt waited until just before Tuesday's 4 p.m. filing deadline to announce his switch, leaving the party unable to recruit a replacement.

Michigan Democratic chairman Mark Brewer says Mojzak was a "fake Democrat" and says he's asking the state to investigate possible perjury and election fraud.

“In my mind this is an example of almost a causality of partisan politics here," Sikkema said.

According to Sikkema, Roy Schmidt has always been viewed as a non-partisan lawmaker, but added, “I think he has created a very difficult path for himself frankly, because by changing partisan affiliation he doesn’t change the political dynamics in Lansing. It’s still going to be extremely partisan...And if he hopes, or has some thought that he can influence the Republican caucus on things like revenue sharing to help the city of Grand Rapids, I think he is going to be sadly disappointed,” Sikkema said.

According to Demas, “It could end up being an interesting campaign, especially if the Democrats do field a candidate that people know, as a write-in, like for instance, former Representative Robert Dean. That could turn out to be a very, very interesting race.”