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Banks, Other Incumbents Win; Cook Scott To Return

August 9, 2016

Incumbent Rep. Brian Banks (D-Harper Woods) hung onto his seat in what became a high-profile 1st district Democratic primary against challenger Pamela Sossi and five other opponents.

In the end, it was Banks with 44 percent to Sossi’s 37 percent, one of the closer races involving House incumbents, none of whom lost their seats tonight.

The race heated up earlier this summer when Attorney General Bill Schuette filed felony charges against Banks related to a 2010 alleged scheme to acquire a personal loan using fake pay stubs.

The charges called into question Banks’ candidacy for re-election, but he received the full backing of Minority Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills), organized labor and various other groups from inside and outside Banks’ Detroit/Eastern Wayne County District.

Sossi, a Detroit attorney, ran a strong campaign against Banks with the help of her campaign manager and boyfriend, Mike Norris, who drove a strong narrative against Banks that he is untrustworthy.

The Banks win highlighted a number of Democratic primary results, which included another big piece of news — the apparent return of former Rep. Bettie Cook Scott.

Scott left the House in 2010 after two terms to make an unsuccessful run for the state Senate. She will get a chance to serve a final term after edging out Carla Tinsley-Smith, the daughter of term-limited Rep. Alberta Tinsley-Talabi by 23 votes, 1,655 to 1,632. Willie Bell received 18 percent while Jeremy Henner received 17 percent.

The other big news from the Democratic primary result was the defeat of the Dems preferred candidate in the 106th district. Robert Kennedy will be the party’s nominee for a second straight cycle after beating Erin Kieliszewski, the president of the local teachers union, by 196 votes.

Kieliszewski is the wife of the Alpena County sheriff and the mother of Miss Michigan.

Otherwise, the Democrats’ preferred candidates in competitive districts were victorious.

Dickinson County Sheriff Scott Celello defeated schoolteacher Dana Dziedzic, 58 to 42 percent, setting him up for a match-up with Beau LaFave in the 108th House district in what the Dems are banking will be a pick-up.

Also, Shiawassee Township Supervisor Anthony Karhoff came from behind to defeat Owosso Democrat John Horvath in a four-way primary by 46 votes (1,157 to 1,111). The race also included Joyce Suprenant and John Vincent, who received 25 and 7 percent of the vote, respectively.

The 85th district could flip into Democratic hands — the district has a nearly 50-50 party base.

The Democrats didn’t necessarily have a preferred candidate in the 23rd District, where they hope to replace term-limited Rep. Pat Somerville (D-Trenton). High school social studies teacher Darrin Camilleri beat out Trenton councilman Steve Rzeppa and Elayne Petrucci for the nomination. Camilleri’s 36 percent bested Sherry Berecz 33.5 percent. Rzeppa had 25.7 percent and Petrucci had 5 percent.

The seat is favored to fall back into Democratic hands.

Warren councilman Patrick Green won his bid for the open Macomb County 28th, to replace another well-known Warren Democrat, Derek Miller. Miller vacated the seat in January. Green won 50 percent of the Democratic vote, trailed by Lori Stone at 31 percent.

Green will face another well-known contender in Republican Bill Barnwell, whose wife is Warren’s treasurer. Green will be the favorite to win the heavily Democratic district in November.

Donna Lasinski triumphed over Barbara Fuller 52 to 48 percent in the 52nd district race to replace Rep. Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline), who is running for Congress. This primary has been one of the most expensive House primary races this cycle. Not counting the $4,990 raised by the Republican Randy Clark, the primary has cost a total of $93,819.

Detroit Democrats Rep. Rose Mary Robinson (D-Detroit), Rep. Wendell Byrd (D-Detroit) and Rep. LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit) defended their seats against challengers. In the 7th district, Garrett defended her seat with 82 percent of the primary vote.

Robinson also successfully held her seat in the 4th district with 58 percent of the vote. The Detroit Chamber and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan supported Quincy Jones, who finished with 20.5 percent. Byrd in the 3rd district triumphed in a dense primary field with 41 percent of the vote. The next closest vote-getter was Al Williams with 22 percent.

Another legacy candidate, winning the seven-way primary for the 9th district was Sylvia Santana, wife of current Rep. Harvey Santana (D-Detroit). Santana garnered 45 percent of the vote, followed by Gary Pollard with 35 percent.

Cara Clemente in the 14th district also will likely succeed her husband with her victory in the Democratic primary. Clemente walked away with 53 percent of the Democratic vote. Former staffer for U.S. Rep. John Dingell, Jeff Chicoine garnered 28 percent of the vote, followed by Daniela Peric at 14 percent.

Kevin Hertel, son of the late former House Speaker Curtis Hertel, coasted to victory in the Democratic primary in the 18th district. Hertel is likely to win the seat in the general election.

In the 15th district Abdullah Hammound declared victory over Roxanne MacDonald, Alex Shami, Jacklin Zeidan and Brian Stone. Brian Stone was Abdullah’s stiffest opponent, who enjoyed name recognition from an effort he led advocating for in-state tuition rates for overseas veterans, but Hammoud walked away with 38 percent of the vote – nine points higher than Stone. Hammoud is likely to win the heavily Democratic district in the general election.

Succeeding Rep. David Rutledge (D- Yspilanti) in the 54th district is likely to be Washtenaw County commissioner Ronnie Peterson, who won with 35 percent of the vote. Ypsilanti councilwoman Anne Brown followed in second with 26 percent of the vote. Trailing in third with 18 percent was retired university administrator Gregory Peoples.

Most Lopsided Victories:

– Yousef Rahbi claimed victory in the Democratic primary in the 53rd district. Yousef beat Steven Kwasny cleanly with 86 percent to 14 percent.

– In the 20th district Colleen Pobur won with nearly 77 percent of the vote over John Sullivan in the Democratic primary. Pobur serves as Plymouth city commissioner. Pobur will vie with 68 percent in the general for the seat left open by Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth).

– Former Lt. Gov. John Cherry’s aide, Tim Sneller, handily beat primary opponent Raymond Freilberger 68 percent to 32 percent.

– Incumbent Rep. John Kivela (D-Calumet) hung safely onto his slot on the November ballot, winning against challenger Sara Cambensy 64 to 36 percent

Closest Calls:

– Muskegon commissioner Terry Sabo squeaked out a victory over Muskegon Community College Board Member Sean Mullally by just 144 votes.

– Former Bay County Commissioner Brian Elder won against current Bay County Commissioner Don Tilley by just under 1,000 votes in the 96th district Democratic primary (47 to 40 percent). A MIRS poll reported that Elder had a slight edge over Tilley a week ahead of the primary election day.

Other Races Of Note:

– Rep. John Chirkun (D-Roseville) has held onto his seat against a Democratic challenge from former probation officer Nicole Reid, 68 to 32 percent.

– Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing) defended his seat with 81 percent of the vote. Rep. Tom Cochran (D-Mason) also turned out more than 5,000 votes, handing him a safe victory in the primary. Cochran will face Leon Clark in the general, who turned out 3,081 votes.

– Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) is keeping her seat representing the 10th district, winning with 68 percent. Mary Cavanagh, daughter of former Rep. Phil Cavanagh, suspended her campaign in mid-May but still walked away with 21 percent of the district’s vote.

– Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) also kept her seat with more than 3,000 votes in the 6th district. The next closest vote-getter, Dennis Black garnered just 446 votes. Rep. Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit) knocked off Cynthia Johnson in a one-on-one race 57 to 43 percent in the 5th district.

– Rep. Frank Liberati (D-Allen Park) rolled over challenger Rebecca Reed 73 to 27 percent in the Democratic primary in the 13th House district.

– Democrat William Sowerby captured the primary in Macomb’s 31st district. The seat currently held by Rep. Marilyn Lane (D-Fraser) has a 56 percent Democratic base, making Sowerby the likely pick in November.

– Immanuel Eickholdt, former Rep. Todd Courser’s alleged accomplice in covering up his affair with former Rep. Cindy Gamrat, lost the Democratic primary in the 45th district to Ted Golden, 69 to 30 percent. The seat is currently held by Rep. Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills) and is a solidly Republican district.

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