August 5 turned out... weird. Last night produced mixed results, indicating that our state is becoming more and more polarized.
Citizens are clearly weary of the lack of political depth and sincerity, and the tendency for incivility.
As an example, take lightening rod concepts like "common core" and "Medicaid expansion," both of which involve multifaceted and useful policies that truly benefit society. But candidates treat them as black or white - you are with us or against us.
We are used to that simplistic debate over abortion, immigration and marriage equality. Now, it seems that every issue gets reduced to a sound bite, not worthy of informed discussion.
It's no wonder that elected officials are less popular than root canals... but enough of my whining. I want to give you a run-down on the primary results.
Congressional District Results
Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence took the 14th Congressional District after a tight race which bounced back and forth all night between her and Rep. Rudy Hobbs.
Congressman Justin Amash had little trouble fending off a challenge to his tea party credentials from Brian Ellis in the 3rd Congressional District.
David Trott pounced one-term Congressman Kerry Bentivolio in the 11th Congressional District, as expected.
Rep. Tom McMillin failed in his bid to replace Congressman Mike Rogers in the 8th Congressional District. Rep. McMillin, while not supportive of all ACLU issues, was a good friend to us on issues of due process, criminal justice, privacy and transparency and oversight.
State Senate Results
Senator Virgil Smith retained his seat against superstar Representative Rashida Tlaib in Senate District 4.
Representative David Kenezk will replace Senator Tupac Hunter in Senate District 5, returning this seat to a progressive who is supportive of women's access to comprehensive healthcare.
Senator Bert Johnson sailed through a crowded primary challenge in Senate District 2.
Senator Vincent Gregory made it through a heartbreaking primary against Representative Ellen Cogan-Lipton and Representative Vicki Barnett (all great candidates) in Senate District 11.
Finally, in case anyone was worried, Curtis Hertel, Jr. won a nail-biter in Senate District 23, with 70% of the vote.
State House Results
Several races produced good results, though not surprising.
Rep. Brian Banks, a champion of LGBT issues, won his primary in House District 1.
Stephanie Chang worked hard and coasted through a crowded primary to replace Rep. Rashida Tlaib in House District 6.
Jeremy Moss will be a great advocate as the presumed new representative in House District 35 as will Jon Hoadley, who crushed it in House District 60.
The contested Republican primaries overall were establishment verses tea party, and for the most part, establishment (read: slightly more moderate) candidates won. However, four "tea party" candidates won their primaries, essentially assuring them of success in the general.
In House District 107, Lee Chatfield unseated an incumbent. Mr. Chatfield is a coach at a private religious school and is the executive director of Freedom's Foundation, an organization emphasizing "America's Christian heritage and Constitution."
In House District 98, Gary Glenn barely squeaked out a victory. He is well known for his frequent anti-gay diatribes and led the charge to make Michigan a "one man - one woman" marriage state. Thank goodness, that failed policy may soon be over.
In House District 80, Cindy Gamrat beat out more moderate opponents. She is all-in tea party, and states first and foremost that she will protect individual liberty, except apparently when it comes to women having control over their reproductive lives. Like the other three candidates, Ms. Gamrat is endorsed by several pro-gun and pro-life groups.
In House District 82, Todd Courser finally found victory in a crowded primary, after running for a few offices in his time. He states that he "believes in the Christian heritage of America" and is a strident tea party advocate.
The most depressing statistic from yesterday's decisive election was the voter turnout percentage.
Everyone has probably heard that Wayne County had a record low of 6%, and the rest of the state doesn't look much better, generally coming in between 9% and 18%. Conventional wisdom is to blame voter apathy, but perhaps we need to look more critically at a few factors:
Voting should be easier – more streamlined and less complicated. One should be able to register on the same day as they vote; we should have an opportunity to vote over the course of days, instead of hours (how about a four day voting weekend in say, September as opposed the middle of the August vacation month?); and, no-reason absentee voting (even SOS Ruth Johnson is supportive of that one!).
By Shelli Weisberg, Legislative Director