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This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss Michigan’s anti-gay marriage law being upheld, the Detroit bankruptcy trial ruling, and what to expect during this term’s lame-duck session.


Map showing counties with the highest and lowest voter turnout.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The overall voter turnout for Michigan was a bit underwhelming this election cycle - less than half of those people eligible to vote in Michigan showed up at the polls on Election Day.

But what about individual counties? Which had the best voter turnout, and which had the worst?

Here's what we found from data provided by the office of the Michigan Secretary of State:

Counties with lowest voter turnout:

Michigan lawmakers chose new leaders after the recent elections.
Matt Katzenberger / flickr.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers' first order of business after the election was picking new leaders.

Republicans on Thursday chose Arlan Meekhof to lead the Senate for the next four years. The 54-year-old from West Olive is best known for sponsoring one of Michigan's two right-to-work laws that made union fees voluntary.

Rep. Kevin Cotter of Mount Pleasant was chosen to be Speaker of the House. Al Pscholka of Stevensville also sought the speakership but dropped his bid in exchange for being named to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills will continue as House Democrats' leader. Senate Democrats picked Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint to succeed Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing.  

In January, Republicans will have 63-47 and 27-11 edges in the House and Senate.

Detroit will exit bankruptcy.
Ian Freimuth / Flickr

Federal bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes has approved Detroit's plan to exit bankruptcy. Rhodes' ruling comes after several major creditors reached deals with the city in recent weeks.

The ruling clears the way for the city to shed around $7 billion in debt.

More from the Detroit News:

A Republican wave on Tuesday.

Or was it? In Michigan, there is plenty of evidence that it was not, despite being a very good year for Republicans nationally.

More votes, less seats

No doubt there were a lot of Republican victories in the races for governor and the Legislature. But Rick Snyder’s 51 percent can’t be described as a blowout. A lot of the races in swing states were also quite close.

In fact, Democrats actually won more votes in state House races than Republicans. Democrats won more votes but got few seats.

In the 110 state House races, Democrats won 50.9 percent of the total vote. Republicans in aggregate got 48.9. Yes, Republicans won 63 seats but is 48.9 percent of the vote really a “wave”?

Dems win big in education

With one exception, Democrats swept the education boards - the state Board of education and the boards for Michigan State, Wayne State and the University of Michigan. That matters because, even though they are elected positions, almost no one knows who these candidates are.

That makes these board elections some of the most-reliable measures of core party strength - the stalwart yellow dog Democrats, rock-ribbed Republicans straight party ballot voters.

We should note, too, that the one exception is where a Green Party candidate ran a pretty aggressive campaign in the Spartans’ home turf of Lansing and East Lansing. That very well may have siphoned off enough votes from the Democrat to tip the race in the other direction.

Part of the Diego Rivera mural in the DIA. Foundations pulled together to help save the art in the museum.
Joseph Gallegos / Flickr

It’s hard not be awed by the scale and detail in Diego Rivera’s Depression-era “Detroit industry” murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts, but these scenes depicting both the splendor and hardship of an industrial powerhouse were potentially at risk in the city’s bankruptcy.

That’s because right now, Detroit owns the museum and its world-class collection.

And that made Detroit’s creditors—collectively owed billions of dollars—ask: Why shouldn’t the city have to sell at least some of it to pay them?

Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, says the idea was offensive.

“The idea that the art could actually be auctioned off was so … antithetical to our idea of democracy and the role of cultural organizations.”

But that fear actually turned out to be an important lever in the bankruptcy case.

Theresa Thompson / Flickr

Hahaha! No. We're just kidding. 

It's really hard. 

But we were serious about there being only two steps. 

We looked into this question as part of our MI Curious project - people send in their questions about Michigan or its people, questions are put up for a vote, then we look into the winning question.

This time, the winning question came from Michael Bieri.

"What would it take to realistically end gerrymanding in Michigan?" 

Today on Stateside:

  • Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes brings us up to date on the Detroit bankruptcy case and gives us a look ahead at what comes next.
  • Dave Brandon is now the former Athletic Director at the University of Michigan and the search has already begun for his replacement. Michigan Radio’s sports commentator John U. Bacon tells us who may be on the shortlist for the job.
  • The “Little Free Libraries” movement is taking root in Detroit.
  • James McCommons, wildlife photographer and professor at Northern Michigan University, talks to us his path to becoming one of America's leading conservationalists.
  • Our It's Just Politics team updates us on their 5 things to watch on election day. 
  • We talk about how money was spent in this election with Rich Robinson, director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

*Listen to the full show above

It's Just Politics Logo
It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta of our It's Just Politics team gave us a list of five things to watch just before the election. Now we look at results and break down just what happened on election day.

1. How well did Snyder do in Detroit? Governor Snyder did better in Detroit than he did four years ago. He did not seem to pay a political price in the city for the Detroit takeover and bankruptcy. However, it's hard to know if this is an endorsement of Snyder or simply a result of the falloff in Democratic voting.

Sen. Arlan Meekhof, Michigan's next Senate Majority Leader.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, will be the new state Senate majority leader in 2015.

Republican senators chose Meekhof to replace term-limited Sen. Randy Richardville to lead their caucus.

Republicans will likely add one seat to their 26-12 majority in the Senate next year, although Democrats are considering a recount in one race.

Senate Democrats selected Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint as the next state Senate minority leader. He will replace term-limited Sen. Gretchen Whitmer.

Republican state Representatives will choose a new state House Speaker this afternoon.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Republican congressional leaders and President Barack Obama are talking about trying to find common ground moving forward.

Flint Congressman Dan Kildee says Tuesday’s election results showed voters are dissatisfied with the way things have been run in Washington.

But Democrat Kildee says Republicans should be careful how they read the results.

Russ Climie / Tiberius Images

Zoe Clark, co-host of Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics, speaks with Governor Snyder about his reelection victory.

The Michigan Republican Party is happy in Michigan and across the country.

Governor Snyder says his re-election is confirmation that they’ve been on the right path and now is the time to accelerate on that path.

Governor Snyder said his re-election gives him a strong mandate from the people as a public servant to act on their behalf.

One of the first issues he wants to tackle is wrapping up comprehensive transportation funding, and to then improve career tech education to increase employment opportunities for Michiganders.

Discussing the race and campaigning, Governor Snyder said he doesn’t view himself as a career politician. He says he dislikes the way a lot of politicians behave.

Governor Snyder feels a lot of campaigning is too negative and lacks in civility and respect, something he wouldn’t put up with in his workplace or family life.

With regard to working with the State House and Senate, Governor Snyder says it’s not about partisanship, but better work for people.

When asked if he was considering running for another office in 2016, Governor Snyder said he was honored being re-elected yesterday by the state of Michigan, but didn’t dismiss the thought. 

*Listen to our conversation with Gov. Snyder above.

People voting
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In the final weeks of the campaign we heard poll results predicting a dead heat between Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and Democrat Mark Schauer.

In the end, it was Snyder over Schauer 51% to 47%.

How do pollsters view their track record? EPIC-MRA President Bernie Porn joined us on Stateside. 

He says the Republicans Governors Association blunted Schauer’s momentum going into the election, which may have given Gov. Snyder the edge needed to win re-election.

It wasn’t a total loss for the Democrats, Porn says, because they won the state board and education posts, which he believes indicates that the party base for the Democrats turned out.

He also attributes Gov. Snyder’s re-election to an appeal to independent voters; Snyder received 72% of the independent vote in this election.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters received 88% of the independent vote in this race, showing how crucial independents are.

*Listen to the interview with Bernie Porn above.

Photo courtesy of Governor Snyder's office

Rick Snyder wins another term as Governor and the Republicans almost run the table in statewide races.

Millions and millions of dollars were spent on Election 2014, but in the end not much has changed.

Rick Pluta gives us a rundown of election results from across the state and what these results mean for you.

Pluta says that while this race was supposed to be one of the closest in decades, that’s not how it went.

Gov. Snyder built an early lead and kept it.

Cathleen Carrigan / Flickr

Michigan will send the same number of Democrats and Republicans to Washington.

The state will send nine Republicans and five Democrats to the U.S. House. New Congressional faces include Republicans David Trott, Mike Bishop and John Moolenaar. And Democrats Brenda Lawrence and Debbie Dingell.

Debbie Dingell discusses her goals and expectations as a new representative in the U.S. House.

Dingell is taking over the 12th District from her husband John Dingell, who will retire at the end of this term.

  Today on Stateside:

Flag at half-staff near the Capitol in Lansing.
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr

Michigan voters re-elected Republican Governor Rick Snyder for another term in office. Democrat Gary Peters also won his bid for U.S. Senate beating out Republican Terri Lynn Land.

Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, joined me to talk about Michigan's election results. Here's our conversation:

Ups and downs in voter turnout in Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The number we're talking about is the percentage of the population old enough to vote.

Less than half of those people showed up at the polls on Election Day in Michigan.

Voter turnout for this year's election came in at 41.6%. In Michigan's last gubernatorial election four years ago, 42.9% of the voting age population turned up to vote.

Michigan's secretary of state's office reports that about 3.2 million votes were cast Tuesday - around 83,000 fewer than in the 2010 midterm election.

To find a lower turnout stat for midterm or presidential elections, you have to go back to 1990 in Michigan.

Here's a chart showing the history of voter turnout in Michigan since 1948. It shows gubernatorial election years and presidential election years. Presidential elections traditionally draw more people to the polls - hence the zig-zag. (The Pew Research Center has more on why that is.)

The chart:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Now that Republicans have strengthened their control of the Michigan Legislature, one analyst expects a fight to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law.

Republicans picked up four seats in the state House on Tuesday, expanding their majority to 63 of the 110 seats. Republicans also added a state Senate seat.The GOP will hold a 27-to-11 margin in the Senate when the next session begins in 2015.

Gov. Rick Snyder has been elected to a second term.
Wikimedia Commons

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry review Election Day in Michigan including voter turnout, victories and disappointments for both parties, and what yesterday’s results could mean for the next four years.


This cartogram depicts 2012 election results. It's a map adjusted for population size.
Mark Newman / Dept. of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan

Here are the election results for the races we're watching here at Michigan Radio.

Please go to your county's election page for more detailed results in your area.

You can also find information about the races not listed below on the Secretary of State's general elections website.

Winners will be in bold.

(NPR has national results here.)

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor Public School voters have rejected a proposal to annex Whitmore Lake Public Schools.

Scott Menzel heads the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

He says it's hard to know what will happen next.

“We've got an Ann Arbor (School) Board election. They'll have at least two new board members on the board and they'll have to decide what they want to do,” Menzel said. “With respect to Whitmore Lake, they're going to go back to the drawing board and do what they need to stay out of deficit.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Grand Rapids, Flint and Kalamazoo approved changes to their city charters.

Kalamazoo voters approved proposals that will change the way their mayor and city commissioners are elected. The mayor will be elected separately from the rest of the city commission and commissioners will serve longer terms.

Flint voters split on six proposed changes to the way their city runs. Voters rejected proposals to eliminate the city’s ombudsman office, the city’s civil service commission and several departments.   

USFWS

Michigan voters rejected a pair of referenda on state laws authorizing a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

Wolf hunt opponents celebrated tonight.  

“The people of Michigan have shown that they don’t want the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves,” says Jill Fritz with the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

But this may just be a pyrrhic victory for wolf hunting opponents. The results of Tuesday’s vote amount to a non-binding referendum.

Marijuana plant.
bobdoran / Flickr

BERKLEY, Mich. (AP) - Voters in three southeastern Michigan communities have passed marijuana possession proposals.

Unofficial results on the Oakland County elections website say the proposals were approved Tuesday in Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge.

Results weren't immediately available late Tuesday in Clare, Frankfort, Harrison, Lapeer, Mount Pleasant, Onaway, Port Huron and Saginaw.

Most called for the legalization or decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Voters in Hazel Park and Oak Park passed measures in August.

Voters in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing approved proposals last year that call on police not to arrest people for possession if they are found with an ounce or less of marijuana, are at least 21 years old and are on private property.

State law bars marijuana use and possession unless it's medical marijuana.

Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson.
MI SOS

Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has defeated Democratic challenger Godfrey Dillard in her bid for a second four-year term as Michigan's top elections and driver services official.

Johnson is a former Oakland County register of deeds and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2006. She was elected secretary of state in 2010.

This year, Johnson has campaigned on her efforts to improve Michigan motor vehicle registration and driver's license system.

She says she plans to build on efforts to improve online services and reduce the waiting in line that long has been the complaint of Michigan motorists.

Dillard is a prominent civil rights lawyer and campaigned on making voting easier.

Libertarian James Lewis, U.S. Taxpayers' Robert Gale and Natural Law Party's Jason Robert Gatties also were on Tuesday's ballot.

Attorney General Bill Schuette has been reelected.
Bill Schuette

Republican Bill Schuette has been re-elected to a second term as Michigan's attorney general.

Schuette defeated Democrat Mark Totten and other candidates in Tuesday's general election.

The 61-year-old Schuette is a former congressman, state lawmaker and state appeals judge. He has campaigned heavily on being tough on crime.

He has supported funding to process thousands of untested rape evidence kits in Detroit, targeted human trafficking and pushed Michigan lawmakers to pass a school safety program.

Schuette also appealed a federal judge's ruling that Michigan's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional and supported a U.S. Supreme Court decision in April that upheld the state's ban on using race as a factor in college admissions.

Totten is a Michigan State University associate law professor and former special U.S. attorney.

American flag.
Corey Seeman / Flickr

We're following the races as they're called. You can see results here, and we have a rolling summary of results below.

You can also follow our team as they tweet from the Republican and Democratic parties in Michigan:

Gov. Rick Snyder has been elected to a second term.
Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder has been reelected to a second term.

Snyder was first elected governor in 2010. During Snyder’s first term, he oversaw major tax reforms that largely shifted the burden from business to individuals. He also appointed the emergency manager that’s ushering Detroit through bankruptcy.

Democratic challenger Mark Schauer represented Michigan’s 7th Congressional District from 2009-2011.

Michigan's next Senator Gary Peters.
U.S. Representative Gary Peters

Gary Peters will represent Michigan in the U.S. Senate. The Associated Press has called the race with 9% of the precincts reporting.

Peters is a three-term congressman who had good name recognition. His opponent, Terri Lynn Land, Michigan's former Secretary of State, was also a recognized political figure across the state, but her campaign foundered as Peters took a lead in the polls in the spring.

Peters succeeds retiring U.S. Senator Carl Levin, one of the longest-serving members of the Senate, and chairman of the influential Armed Services Committee. 

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