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Michigan’s Most Well Funded House Races

August 2, 2016

Three Republicans and one Democrat have raised over $143,000 in the open seat contest to replace outgoing Rep. Earl POLESKI (R-Jackson).  

That makes it the second highest district in terms of money raised, but in this instance the numbers may be a tad misleading. Two of the candidates have dug deep into their own bank accounts to chip in $45,000. 

The numbers emerge from a report compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network which follows the money in primary and general election races. 

Having an open seat, according to MCFN director Craig MAUGER, means “the races are closer and it’s pretty much up in the air regarding votes.” 

GOP candidate and former lobbyist for the oil industry John GRIFFIN has collected $92,000 including $10,000 of his own money. A portion of that has come from the oil industry and Mauger reports a number of Griffin’s former lobbying colleagues who operate PAC’s have written checks as well. The Michigan Chamber supports him, too. 

Asked if it helps to have Lansing connections, Mauger tells MIRS, “I think it does.  That’s where the money is.” 

GOP newcomer Phil TRIPP has contributed $35,000 of his own funds while collecting $1,400 from individual donors. 

The former body repair shop owner is benefiting from his TV commercials over the years and Mauger concludes, “they know Tripp because of those commercials. They see them all the time. They have stated his role in the community which could help him in this race.” 

Coming in with $37,000 is Julie ALEXANDER, a county commissioner with ties to the farming community, which would account for the $10,000 contribution from the Michigan Farm Bureau. The incumbent Poleski has also made a donation. 

In a potentially important twist to the contest, the Griffin name is familiar to area voters, as two of John Griffin’s relatives with the last name have held that legislative seat. 

In the August 2 primary there is one Democrat, Ron BROOK, who has on hand $13,200. Mauger figures, “he is gong to have to raise a lot more than that because they (the Republicans) are all reading a lot more.” 

According to MCFN, the 64th District makes second on the top ten most expensive races. 

The other nine include: 

103rd District: $166,075 Combined

Just ahead of the 64th District in terms of dollars raised is the 103rd District. Republican Vijay KUMAR has almost entirely self-funded his campaign, giving $89,000 of the $89,139 he’s raised. Kumar is up against wife of current Rep. Bruce RENDON (R-Lake City), Daire RENDON. Rendon is backed by the DeVos family and both members running for House leadership next year. 

1st District: $140,732 Combined 

Rep. Brian BANKS (D-Detroit) came out at the top fundraiser of some 400 House candidates, with $92,705 raised since Jan. 1. Banks received large donations from the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Detroit business mogul Matty MAROUN. Banks, with a slew of primary opponents, faces a serious challenge from Detroit attorney Pamela SOSSI

24th District: $139,967 Combined 

The top fundraiser in this race is Macomb County Commissioner Steve MARINO. Marino reported raising $69,270. He gave himself $35,100 and received $9,000 in contributions from members of the DeVos family. 

Democrat Dana CAMPHOUS-PETERSON, a former Macomb County commissioner, reported raising $58,097. 

23rd District: $139,045 Combined 

Each of the Demcorats vying for the seat raised more than $20,000 between January and July. Brownstown Twp. Clerk Sherry BERECZ raised the most at $37,555, followed by Trenton City Council member Steve RZEPPA at $36,646. Teacher Darin CAMILLERI, of Brownstown, raised $21,110. 

15th District: $135,095 Combined 

Dearborn Democrat Abdullah HAMMOUD raised more than $78,000 this year from $350 individual contributions. The other two Democrats, Jacklin ZEIDAN and Roxanne MacDONALD, raised less than $19,000 each. 

99th District: $119,822 Combined 

Democrat Bryan MIELKE was the top fundraiser in this contest with $69,348 in contributions.

On the Republican side, Robin STRESSMAN, a real estate agent from Mt. Pleasant, raised the most at $26,025. Republican Roger HAUCK, a Union Twp. trustee, reported raising $24,447. 

91st District: $112,705 Combined 

A top race for the cycle, this high-dollar race includes just two candidates: Rep. Holly HUGHES (R-Montague) and former Rep. Colleen LAMONTE. While Hughes reported raising less than $29,000, her campaign cash stockpile from previous years leaves her with $99,728 cash on hand. 

Lamonte reported raising $83,505. 

30th District: $110,173 Combined 

Another open battleground district in Macomb County, Democrat Michael NOTTE raised $34,564. The favored GOP candidate, Diana FARRINGTON, reported raising $58,629. Her husband, Rep. Jeff FARRINGTON (R-Utica), gave $10,000 from his leadership PAC. 

20th District: $103,645 Combined 

The three-way GOP primary for this seat raised a combined $77,709. Republican Jeffrey NEILSON raised the most at $42,604, including $36,500 in-kind contributions from himself. Republican Chris ROOSEN raised the second-most with $18,720, followed by Jeff NOBLE with $16,385. 

The Democrat in the race, Colleen POBUR, raised $25,936, with the $2,000 backing of Michigan Health & Hospital Association’s PAC.

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