Election 2014

Detroit Congressman John Conyers is poised to return to Washington as “Dean of the House.”

Conyers will run for a 26th term in Congress after cruising to victory in the 13th district Democratic primary last night.

Conyers was first elected to Congress in 1964. Now that fellow Michigan Congressman John Dingell is retiring, the civil rights icon is set to become the longest-serving member of the House.

Conyers would be the first African American to serve that role--something he calls a “crowning achievement.”

US Congress

Republican Congressman Justin Amash has beaten challenger Brian Ellis in the 3rd District primary in western Michigan.

The libertarian-leaning Amash was targeted by business groups as being too far outside the mainstream of his party. But Amash survived the challenge and is likely headed toward a third two-year term in the Republican-leaning seat that includes parts of five counties and the cities of Grand Rapids and Battle Creek.

Polling place.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan voters have been choosing incumbents in statewide primary elections, including Republicans in the GOP-led House who withstood strong challenges from conservatives tied to the tea party.

Incumbents who held their seats Tuesday night include Republicans Bradford Jacobsen, Klint Kesto and Mike Kowall. Democratic state Sen. Vincent Gregory held off a challenge from two term-limited state House members, who joined the race after he launched a brief run for Congress.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan voters have approved a ballot measure to end a state tax on manufacturing and small business equipment.

Proposal 1 will reimburse local governments for their lost personal property tax revenue by sharing a portion of the state's use tax.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The wife of longtime Democratic Congressman John Dingell has won the Democratic primary for the 12th Congressional District.

Debbie Dingell has defeated attorney Raymond Mullins Tuesday and heads into the November general election seeking the seat her husband has held for more than 58 years.

Congressman John Conyers.
Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

Democrat John Conyers is a step closer to his 26th term in Congress.

Conyers defeated Detroit pastor the Rev. Horace Sheffield III in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

The 85-year-old Conyers has been in Congress since 1965 and is in line to be the longest serving member of the House with the retirement this year of fellow Michigan Representative John Dingell.

Former state senate majority leader Mike Bishop easily defeated state representative Tom McMillin Tuesday, after a sometimes negative Republican primary campaign. “I’m sorry that it turned out that way," Bishop said after winning the Republican nomination Tuesday, "I certainly hope that folks weren’t turned off by it.”Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan RadioEdit | Remove

Mike Bishop has won the Republican nomination for Congress in Michigan's 8th District over a state lawmaker from Oakland County.

Bishop defeated Tom McMillin in the GOP primary Tuesday. The winner was endorsed by U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, a popular Republican who didn't run for re-election.

Kerry Bentivolio for Congress / BentivolioForCongress.com

Republican incumbent Congressman Kerry Bentivolio was defeated by businessman David Trott in suburban Detroit's 11th U.S. House District GOP primary by a roughly 2-1 margin.

The 53-year-old Trott will face the winner of a four-way Democratic primary in the fall to represent the district covering a swath of Detroit's western and northern suburbs.

user Connormah / Wikimedia Commons

Republican Congressman Tim Walberg beat Douglas Radcliffe North in the 7th District GOP primary in southeastern Michigan.

The 63-year-old Walberg of Tipton defeated 61-year-old North of Jackson in Tuesday's primary. Walberg was first elected to the House in 2006, but lost in 2008 to Democrat Mark Schauer. He defeated Schauer, who is running for governor this year, in 2010, to get back the seat and won again in 2012. Walberg also was in the Michigan House from 1983 to 1999.

screen grab / U.S. House of Representatives

Longtime Republican Congressman Fred Upton defeated a nurse from Dowagiac in the 6th District GOP primary in southwestern Michigan.

The 61-year-old Upton of St. Joseph defeated 46-year-old Jim Bussler in Tuesday's primary. Upton has been in the House since 1987 and was widely considered a shoo-in to win the primary.

Congress.gov / Congress

Republican Congressman Dan Benishek has defeated challenger Alan Arcand in the 1st District primary covering northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

Benishek will face retired National Guard general and sheriff Jerry Cannon in November. Cannon had no Democratic primary opponent.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Suburban Detroit lawyer David Trott is ahead early in his bid to defeat Republican U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio in Michigan's primary election.

Debbie Dingell also is up big in the Democratic primary in her husband John's seat. John Dingell is retiring from the Democratic-heavy district in suburban Detroit at year's end after 58 years in Congress, and Debbie Dingell is expected to continue the 81-year Dingell dynasty.

In another closely-watched watched House race, two-term Republican Rep. Justin Amash is leading challenger Brian Ellis in western Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor may have real ‘power’ at his fingertips at times of emergency, if city voters agree in November.

Tens of thousands of Lansing Board of Water and Light customers spent days in the dark last December after a major ice storm.   The utility’s leadership was heavily criticized for a disorganized response to the black out. 

BWL’s response to the storm and its aftermath were the subject of reviews by a panel appointed by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the state Public Service Commission and by the utility itself.

Children's Zoo at Celebration Square

The future of Saginaw’s Children’s Zoo may be decided tomorrow.

Saginaw County voters are deciding if they want to raise their property taxes by a small amount to support the zoo.

The Children’s Zoo has a little bit of everything, from monkeys and kangaroos to butterflies and reptiles.  In all, about 150 animals call the 85-year-old zoo home.

But what the zoo does not have a lot of is money.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Mount Clemens face a difficult choice on Tuesday: Approve a big property tax increase or risk a state takeover of their city.

The recession of 2008 cost Mount Clemens more than a quarter of its property tax revenues.   The city also saw a more than 40% drop in state revenue sharing between 2000 and 2012. 

Robert Bruner is Mount Clemens' interim city manager.   He says the city has only been able to balance its books in recent years by slashing employees and by dipping into the city’s reserves which are now nearly gone. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A statewide campaign to convince Michiganders to vote to end the personal property tax is coming to a close.

Proposal 1 on next Tuesday’s ballot is an awkwardly worded question that if approved will be the final step in scrapping the PPT. The PPT is levied on business and manufacturing equipment, even if that equipment was purchased long ago. 

Business associations have poured some $8 million into the campaign.  Various municipal and government employee groups have lined up, often literally, to show their support for Proposal 1.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Jackson voters face a controversial ballot question next week.

They will decide Tuesday if they want to pay a new fee to have their leaves collected.

In 2011, the Jackson City Council created a fee to pay for leaf pick up, street cleaning and other things needed to be done to keep the city’s storm drains clear of debris. The fee raised over $1 million annually. 

But Jackson County government and local businessmen took the city to court.      

Tuesday may be primary election day, but the truth is we’re already off to the races. The voting has begun. Absentee voting. Absentee ballots are the first ballots cast, but the last to be counted on Election Day. And more and more they can make the difference between winning and losing.

That’s because voting absentee is on the rise in Michigan -- nearly doubled over the past 10 years. More than one in four (27 percent, to be specific) of the ballots cast in 2012 were absentee. And that’s why the smart campaigns focus early on absentee voters. They keep track of who requests an absentee ballot, and then quickly steer campaign propaganda in that voter’s direction.

It is also why the Michigan Democratic Party -- with an eye toward November -- has been quietly carrying on an absentee voter experiment. Voters in Detroit and Lansing, can now apply for their absentee ballots online.

If you have been listening to the news much lately, you are probably aware there’s a statewide primary election next week, and a fairly interesting one at that.

Four of Michigan’s 16 congressmen are leaving this year, one to run for the Senate. Some of the others, including Justin Amash, Dan Benishek, Kerry Bentivolio and John Conyers have serious primary challenges in their own parties.

Every seat in the Legislature is up for grabs. Democrats desperately want to win at least one house back. Term limits mean that nearly one third of all the legislators have to leave.

That has meant energetic and expensive primaries in most of those districts, and a number of incumbent legislators face primary opponents as well. They include establishment Republicans fighting Tea Party challengers, and Democratic state Sens.Vincent Gregory and Virgil Smith, both are trying to fend off challenges from term-limited legislators playing musical chairs.

Imagine that you are a CEO and you are looking to hire somebody for a temporary, two-year position that pays $174,000 a year, and may include access to highly sensitive information.

Somebody steps up and announces he will pay more than $3 million, most of it out of his own pocket, to be considered for this job.  Would you be suspicious?

Let’s say you also needed to hire someone for a lower-ranking position, one which will have little power, and which will pay less than $72,000. A woman who could easily make more than that elsewhere borrows money, hits up friends, and spends more than $200,000 in an attempt to be a finalist for the position.

Would you say something is wrong here?

In our political system, sometimes the primary election is the election.

That’s the case in Metro Detroit’s 14th Congressional district, where the winner of the Democratic primary is virtually guaranteed a win November.

There are three major candidates in this year’s primary, making for a pretty competitive race in a very strange district.

A “geographical monstrosity”

Bridge magazine’s Truth Squad has been reviewing political ads in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District's Republican primary campaigns.

The Third Congressional district stretches from north of Grand Rapids to south of Battle Creek. The incumbent is Justin Amash, a libertarian and Tea Party favorite. He’s being challenged in the Republican Primary by Brian Ellis, who has backing from many business leaders and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

“One person can make a difference,” President Kennedy used to say, “and everyone should try.”  That was the spirit that inspired a lot of people to get into politics, once upon a time.

Well, there are still idealists out there trying to make a difference, and there have been no-goodniks running for office since George Washington’s day.

But in the final days before Michigan’s statewide primary, two things have depressed me about this year’s campaign.

One is the amount of money involved, and I’ll talk about that later. But the other is the below the belt tactics.

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss what races and issues to follow before next week's primary election, how Detroit's emergency manager has shifted responsibilities of the city's water department to Mayor Mike Duggan after controversies for water shut offs, and recent developments with the new international bridge from Detroit to Windsor, ON.

Bridge magazine’s Truth Squad has been reviewing political TV ads in Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District Republican primary.

Paul Mitchell’s campaign ran an attack ad against Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, which included this claim:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Mid-Michigan congressman Dave Camp’s decision to step down from the seat he’s held for two decades sparked a battle between different factions of the Republican Party.

Next Tuesday, voters will likely decide which one will hold the seat.

markschauer.com

Democratic candidate Mark Schauer says he would come up with a road funding solution where Governor Rick Snyder and the Republicans failed. Schauer did not give specifics, but said he would do it without raising fuel taxes. It was part of an economic platform he outlined today.

It also includes boosting the state’s renewable energy, repealing the right to work law, and restoring the tax break for pension income.

Schauer said his economic plan would create tens of thousands of new jobs.

“By rebuilding our infrastructure, raising our renewable energy standard, tough ‘buy Michigan’ standards, by cutting taxes to retirees and working families,” Schauer said, “I think tens of thousands is a conservative estimate.”

Schauer said he would also ban for-profit charter schools and rely less on outside contracts for state services.

Governor Snyder says his policies are at least partly responsible for 250,000 new private sector jobs since he took office.

www.attyraymullins.com / www.attyraymullins.com

Michigan's primary elections will be held on Aug. 5.

Congressman John Dingell is retiring, so the 12th Congressional District is an open seat. Yesterday we talked to Debbie Dingell, his wife, about her campaign.

Today we talked to her competition, Raymond G. Mullins, an Ypsilanti attorney.

*Listen to the full interview above

Wikimedia Commons

Aug. 5 is primary election day in Michigan, and across all media channels, you can find criticism of who is on the ballot and who isn’t on the ballot. On Stateside today, Jack Lessenberry and Nolan Finley talked about why our best and brightest do not run.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. Nolan Finley is editorial page editor at The Detroit News.

“We really aren’t sending the best and brightest to our capitols, whether it’s Lansing or Washington,” Finley said.

He added that when he talks to some of the people running for office, and even those who may ultimately win, there is a great deal of mediocrity among the candidates. Finley says the leadership pool is really shallow, and the promising leaders don’t have enough time to develop with short term limits.

Mark Schauer will become the Democratic nominee for governor next week, after Michigan’s statewide primary.

That’s because he has no opposition. He will have all the opposition he can handle in November, however. He cheerfully concedes Governor Rick Snyder will outspend him by millions. Schauer is also attempting to buck history. The last time a Republican governor was defeated in this state was in 1948.

However, when I spent some time with Schauer last week, the former Battle Creek congressman seemed sincerely upbeat and optimistic. One poll shows the two candidates exactly tied.

Others have shown Snyder leading, but usually by no more than the three to four point margin of error. And there is something ominous for the governor in all these polls: None have shown Snyder with the support of fifty or more percent of the voters.

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