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All GOP-To-Dem seats top updated 15 likely to flip list

April 26, 2016

Article courtesy of MIRS News Service

House Democrats have a better shot of winning back control of the Michigan House this year than they do in 2018 or 2020, barring the unforeseen, said Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) executive director Craig MAUGER, who covered the last two House elections for MIRS.

Mauger put the Democrats’ chances of making up a nine-seat deficit with Republican-leaning maps at 35 to 40 percent because so much has to go right for the minority party in so many different parts of the state. 

MIRS Editor Kyle MELINN put the D’s odds at 40 to 45 percent because the nature of the open seats, the presidential race favoring Hillary CLINTON and the D’s leadership experience from 2014 works to their advantage. 

The stakes are high. If Democrats have a shot of drawing the next state House maps in 2021, the road needs to start in 2016 with a majority. In 2018, the focus will be split with the gubernatorial, state senate, attorney general and secretary of states races. In 2020, the types of seats opening up favor Republicans.

“The base of what happens with the next redistricting will happen right here, barring a ballot proposal,” Mauger said. 

Speaking on MIRS Monday podcast, Mauger gave Democrats a B- grade on their candidate recruitment efforts. He said the caucus has done better than in years past, but the large number of “retread candidates” may be a mixed blessing depending on how far the electorate takes its “anti-establishment,” “anti-politician” sentiment. 

He gave the Republicans a “C” grade on candidate recruitment. 

While some Republicans are talking privately about playing offense in a handful of districts like the Ingham County-based 67th or the Upper Peninsula-based 110th, Mauger said it’s rare to see both parties flip House seats in recent years and sees the R’s chances of expanding on the 63-47 majority just won in 2014 as “unlikely.” 

With that backdrop, MIRS has updated its Top 15 “Most Likely Seats To Flip” list from last November in light of Tuesday’s candidate filing deadline. 

1. 23rd District (R to D) — *1 
Republican wanted the brother of the Energizer Bunny, Rep. Pat SOMERVILLE (R-New Boston), to run in this tricky Downriver district. They did get an elected official in Trenton City Council member Bob HOWEY, but the R’s won this seat in 2010 with arguably their hardest-working candidate running in the best Republican year in a decade against a Dem. incumbent who didn’t work. The dynamics in 2016 will be much different. 

2. 62nd District (R to D) — *3 
The last time a Clinton was on the General Election ballot in Battle Creek, a first-term GOP House incumbent lost 55 to 45 percent. That was 1996. This is 2016. We’re not saying Jim HAADSMA is Mark SCHAUER, but this district has gotten more Democratic in 20 years. 

3. 108th District (R to D) — *2 
Alan ARCAND gives Republicans in this Upper Peninsula District a Tea Party option to Darryl SHANN, a former law supervisor who retired a couple years ago from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Democrats’ Dickinson County Sheriff, Scott CELELLO, is still the favorite, even though both Donald TRUMP and Ted CRUZ both pulled in more votes in the primary than Clinton. 

4. 99th District (R to D) — *5 
MIRS can attest that Pizza Sam’s in Midland is a great place to take the family. It’s probably not the best place to launch a campaign for a state House district in Mt. Pleasant. Considering the local headline Republican Roger HAUCK received from that mis-step, he’s probably wishing for a re-do. 

If Bernie SANDERS were the Dems’ nominee, this Central Michigan University district would move up to No. 1 or 2 on this ranking considering Sanders received nearly as many votes here as Trump and John KASICH combined last month. 

5. 91st District (R to D) — *6 
Rep. Holly HUGHES (R-Montague) is 0 for 2 in presidential elections. An incumbent hasn’t run and won here since 2008. How much mileage can Hughes get on being out front of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans debacle? Will it offset her sponsorship of a bill in the road-funding package if that turns out to be a negative? 

6. 24th District (R to D) — *8 
Macomb County loves Donald Trump, but will they love who comes out of a four-way Republican primary? If former Democratic County Commissioner Dana CAMPHOUS-PETERSON can take advantage of the next several months on the fundraising front, she could be slam-dunk if the wrong GOP candidate wins in August. 

7. 30th District (R to D) — *4 
Republicans caught a break with Diana FARRINGTON, the wife of the current officeholder, running. Will her name offset the family name Democrat Michael NOTTE is bringing to the table? It certainly doesn’t hurt. However, a Farrington beat a potted plant 53 to 47 percent in the last presidential election. Notte isn’t a potted plant. 

8. 101st District (R to D) — *7 
Democrats won’t have a primary to worry about, but former Rep. Dan SCRIPPS will have a competitive November in front of him whether its current Mason County Commissioner Curt VanderWALL or former county commissioner Mark WALTER

9. 106th District (R to D) — *11 
Democrats scored a big win on the recruiting side when they scored Erin KIELISZEWSKI, a public school teacher of 28 years who also happens to be the mom of Miss Michigan. The Republicans have some quality candidates, as well, but this Alpena district has historically gone Democratic despite its 52 percent GOP base. 

10. 85th District (R to D) — *NR 
The elusive white whale for Democrats has returned in 2016 with the D’s bagging a locally elected official to run as their preferred candidate in the August primary. Ben FREDERICK raised $75,000 last year, though, and Hartmann AUE is the chair of the Shiawassee County Commissioners, both of whom give the GOP a pair of quality options of their own. 

11. 61st District (R to D) — *NR 
Rep. Brandt IDEN (R-Kalamazoo) is a Trump delegate for the Cleveland convention. Republicans would probably rather see this first-termer knocking doors in July than stumping for a candidate who finished third in the Republican primary in this Kalamazoo County district. If Democrat John FISHER can run even a marginally better campaign than he did in 2014, he could turn Iden into the “Frank FOSTER” of 2016. 

12. 71st District (R to D) — *9 
How much different is Rep. Tom BARRETT‘s (R-Potterville) voting record from Deb SHAUGHNESSY‘s when she lost to Democratic Theresa ABED in 2012? Either way, this Eaton County district has the potential be a huge money sinkhole for both parties. 

13. 57th District (R to D) — *12 
Former Tecumseh Mayor Harvey SCHMIDT is going to give this Lenawee County district another shot after two prior unsuccessful attempts. The political atmosphere should be more favorable for the Democrat than in 2010 when he managed 42.5 percent of the vote. 

14. 56th District (R to D) — *13 
Another rematch is taking place with Rep. Jason SHEPPARD (R-Temperance) and Democrat Tom REDMOND after Sheppard won “Round 1” 50 to 47 percent. Sheppard has avoided the pitfalls of another former Monroe County Republican, Matt MILOSCH, by moderating his voting record and not spending too much time in Lansing. If Clinton wins big, though, that will help Redmond, even without straight-ticket voting. 

15. 20th District (R to D) — *NR 
Yes, it’s a 56 percent Republican district, but if a super conservative comes out of the Republicans side, watch out for Democrat Colleen POBUR in a district that gave Lansing a pair of moderate House members in Marc CORRIVEAU and John STEWART

*= Ranking from Nov. 20, 2015 

Dropped out: 64th District (R to D), 66th House District (No. 14) and 52nd House District (No. 15).

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