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House Democrats Return to Full Strength

April 23, 2024

The House Democratic caucus has been returned to its full 56-member majority after Macomb County Commissioner Mai Xiong and Westland City Council member Peter Herzberg secured victories in their respective special elections, ending the temporary 54-54 split.

In the 25th District, which was called first, Herzberg won with 59.5 percent of the vote while getting 60.5 percent in the city of Westland, the district’s largest city.

Xiong earned 77.6 percent of the vote in the 13th District, including 95 percent in Wayne County.

In response to the victories, House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) said “Michiganders chose Democrats to lead in 2022. They sought out Democrats for local office in 2023. They elected Democrats in specials tonight, and we know Michiganders will choose a Democratic majority again in November.

“The House Democratic Caucus is happy to be back at full strength and more than ready to have Mai Xiong and Peter Herzberg help us continue to put people first,” Tate said.

President Joe Biden’s administration also issued a statement in response to the victories, which were both called relatively early Tuesday night.

Biden-Harris Michigan State Director Ed Duggan said, “Donald Trump is a loser who Michiganders rejected in 2020 because of his dangerous anti-abortion, anti-gun safety, anti-freedom policies. Tonight, Michiganders continued that trend by rejecting Trump’s MAGA allies, ensuring Democrats continue to lead in Lansing.”

House Democratic Rep. Alabas A. Farhat (D-Dearborn) said, “I’m surprised Leader Matt Hall (R-Kalamazoo) didn’t take credit for these wins,” referring to earlier comments made by Hall about his “black ops” work in getting former House members Lori Stone and Kevin Coleman elected in their respective mayoral races last November.

House Republicans did not wish to comment on the election results Tuesday night.

In the 25th District, which was called first, Herzberg won with 60.49 percent of the vote in Westland, the district’s largest city.

He received 4,897 votes (60.49 percent) in Westland compared to his Republican opponent, Josh Powell, who earned 3,036 votes (37.50 percent).

In Wayne County, which includes precincts in Wayne, Canton Township and Dearborn Heights, Herzberg received 1,476 votes (56.55 percent). Powell earned 1,060 votes (40.61 percent).

In Canton’s two precincts, Herzberg received 384 votes (59.35 percent), while Powell earned 255 votes (39.41 percent), at 11 percent total voter turnout.

Earlier in the day, Herzberg told MIRS the election day crowd appeared more Republican-leaning, which he optimistically attributed to a larger percentage of Democratic voters choosing to vote absentee.

He said Powell brought out a large number of volunteers, including some people in costumes, and even one supporter dressed as former President Abraham Lincoln.

“I’ve been through so many elections over the past 15 years or so,” he said, “either as a candidate or volunteer, and I’ve never seen the Republicans organize and get out the vote as much as this time, so it’s definitely nerve-racking.”

But absentee voters in Wayne County accounted for a total 1,994 votes, compared to 619 in-person votes. In Westland, 6,394 votes cast were absentee, compared to 1,720 votes on election day. Of the absentee votes in Westland, Herzberg received 4,338 of them.

Westland Clerk Richard LeBlanc described turnout as “low and slow.”

Herzberg attributed his success to a great deal of support from House Democrats in the weeks leading up to the election, whether it be door-knocking, get out the vote efforts or phone banking.

Now, Herzberg said he’s excited to get to work for the district and hopefully secure funding for important projects like a Westland recreation center, which he said his experience on city council will help him accomplish.

“Over the years, we’ve dealt with so many funding issues, and I’ve learned how the city works, down to the bottom level, how money comes in and how it gets spent – or wasted. So I think I have a lot of insight in that regard to take with me to Lansing,” Herzberg said.

In Warren, Macomb County Commissioner Mai Xiong won later Tuesday night, bringing the total number of state House Democrats to 56.

Xiong beat her Republican opponent, Ronald Singer, with 77.6 percent of the vote.

In Wayne County, she earned 1,273 votes (95.41 percent), while Singer earned just 57 votes (4.26 percent).

In Macomb, where Xiong is running to replace former Rep./now Warren Mayor Lori Stone, she received 4,467 votes (60.2 percent), while Singer received 2,949 votes (39.8 percent).

In Detroit, Xiong earned 1,273 votes of 1,340 ballots cast, or 95 percent. Singer received 57 votes, and the city of Detroit saw 5.96 percent voter turnout.

Compared to the Jan. 30 primary, when heavy snowfall blanketed precincts in Detroit, Xiong told MIRS turnout was noticeably better Tuesday.

She visited precincts in the cities of Warren and Detroit and said there was a steady stream of voters, though not as many as typical of an August primary or November general.

When asked about turnout in the City of Warren, City Clerk Sonja Djurovic Buffa responded simply, “slow.”

She said numbers averaged around 30 in-person voters per precinct.

Xiong said her campaign worked hard the last six months to turn out people to vote, despite the seat being 68 percent Democratic.

Now, she said she’s “certainly looking forward to coming to Lansing and being a part of the Democratic House majority and continuing to deliver for the district.”

“As a county commissioner, I’ve been a huge advocate for small businesses and making sure we deal with food insecurity, roads, infrastructure, public transportation (and) taking care of seniors,” she said. “These are things that I’ve done as county commissioner that I hope to continue to do as our next state representative.”

Xiong was already thinking about committee assignments, which she said she’s not really sure about yet, but “I know they are very focused on getting us elected and sworn in as soon as possible.”


Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter

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