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Primary Shakes Up 15 Most Likely To Flip List

August 9, 2016

Avid election spectators found relatively few surprises in the results of Tuesday’s primary House elections, but the results left behind early indicators of what to expect in November.

In some races, candidates projected to be top contenders lost traction with voters, while for others the race hangs in the balance. Rep. Larry Inman’s (R-Traverse City) strong performance in his 104th House District primary proved that, when he doesn’t have physical ailments holding him back like he had in 2014, he’s a hell of a campaigner. His race has moved off the MIRS’ “15 Most Likely To Flip List.”

Likewise, Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-Troy) easily dispatched his primary opponent, earning his race a ticket off the list as well.

Thirteen other races stayed on the list and some moved around substantially. Democrats need to pick up nine seats in order capture the majority in November, and bearing the results of last night’s primary in mind, MIRS revised its most likely to flip list:

1. 30th District (R to D) — *7

Diana Farrington was seen as the Republicans’ slam-dunk candidate in this Sterling Heights district, but on primary night the wife of Rep. Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) defeated multi-election loser Michael Shallal by 54 votes. In 2014 Jeff Farrington beat Shallal by 4,334 votes.

Meanwhile, Democrat Michael Notte peeled away from primary opponent John Spica with 77 percent of the Democratic vote. The amount of resources the Republicans will put in the 30th must now be a serious discussion.

2. 23rd District (R to D) — *1

This Downriver seat continues to be low-hanging fruit for House Democrats given its 50.5 percent base number and Tuesday’s primary results failed to change that dynamic. Social Studies teacher Darrin Camilleri squeaked out the Democratic nomination in his first venture as a political candidate in a competitive field.

Trenton City Councilman Bob Howey’s billing as a strong campaigner was evident in his decisive 77 percent victory in the GOP primary, but the interest in that Democratic primary was greater by about 3,300 votes.

3. 99th District (R to D) — *6

In House Speaker Kevin Cotter’s (R-Mt. Pleasant) seat, Democratic nominee Bryan Mielke has nearly 10 times more cash on hand — $82,048 to $8,512 — than Republican nominee Roger Hauck, who defeated someone who filed a campaign finance reporting waiver with 65 percent of the vote.

4. 62nd District (R to D) — *2

Previously ranked No. 1 on this list, this race fell three spots in light of last night’s primary election results. Relatively, Democrat Jim Haadsma netted more votes in the Democratic stronghold of Albion than did incumbent Rep. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek). But Bizon was able to net support fairly evenly across the 62nd District communities and curry strong support in his hometown of Battle Creek. The specter of Trump and a 52 percent Dem base number still haunts Bizon.

5. 91st District (R to D) — *4

All things being equal — and this race is about as equal as you can get — the advantage goes to Democrat Colleen LaMonte. Lamonte has kept pace with incumbent Rep. Holly Hughes (R-Montague) on the fundraising front, outraising Hughes when self-funded dollars are taken out of the mix. More party votes turned out in the district for Democrats than Republicans, perhaps an indicator of voter engagement in the district.

6. 108th District (R to D) — *3

This district, also favored early on to be taken by Democrats, has moved down the list in light of two factors: first, the surprisingly weak showing of Dickinson County Sheriff Scott Cellelo; and second, the strong campaign put together by Republican Beau LaFave. Cellelo was pegged as a candidate whose law enforcement background would have appeal on both sides of the aisle.

But Republicans may have stumbled upon an Easter egg candidate in LaFave, who comes with a compelling personal story of overcoming adversity. His come-out-of-nowhere victory last night can’t help but bring back memories of Rep. Ed McBroom’s (R-Vulcan) 2010 victory.

7. 101th District (R to D) — *8

A good old-fashioned dogfight is on the way in the general election match up between Republican Curt VanderWall from the district’s southern part and Democrat Dan Scripps from the district’s northern part. Both parties got their chosen candidate in this race and both candidates have put together aggressive campaigns. Scripps outraised VanderWall ahead of the primary, but VanderWall has the cash advantage with $36,000 cash on hand against Scripps’ $27,000.

8. 106th District (R to D) — *9

One of the few surprises of the primary night was Democrat Robert Kennedy’s victory over the party’s preferred candidate, Erin Kieliszewski. While some may lament her loss, Kennedy won the Democratic primary in 2014 and narrowly lost to incumbent Pete Pettalia 51 to 49 percent in a gubernatorial year.

Besides, Republicans didn’t get their chosen candidate either. While Jackie Krawczak of Alpena may have put this one away for the Republicans, the primary win by conservative Republican Sue Allor of Cheboygan puts this one on the radar for a flip in November.

9. 24th District (R to D) — *5

The race for the 24th District seat left open by Rep. Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Twp.) is shaping up to be a battle of the dollars. Democrat Dana Camphous-Peterson and Republican Steve Marino are neck and neck in raising large sums. Camphous-Peterson raised $58,097 and closed out books with $26,628 still in the bank, while Marino raised 69,270, carrying $35,000 in debt and reporting just over $34,000 in cash on hand.

10. 61st District (R to D) — *10

Democratic candidate John Fisher proved Tuesday night he could be a strong challenger to Rep. Brandt Iden (R- Kalamazoo) in the general election. Both candidates ran unopposed in the primary, but just 36 more ballots were cast in the primary for Iden than for Fisher, who turned out 4,019 votes.

11. 71st District (R to D) — *11

This race maintains its 11th slot rating following the primary since Democrat contender Theresa Abed didn’t outraise Rep. Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) ahead of the primary.

12. 20th District (R to D) — *NR

Democrat Colleen Pobur showed a strong performance in last night’s primary putting this seat held by Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth) in play. Tea party-favored Jeff Noble came out ahead in Tuesday’s three-candidate GOP primary with just under 40 percent. Is he too conservative of a candidate for a Plymouth/Northville district that has rejected such conservative candidates as Mark Abbo and Jonathon Grant?

13. 39th District — *15

For Rep. Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Twp.), it depends how much the top of the ticket will carry. In the primary, Clinton and Trump took the district and garnered roughly the same number of votes. Voters cast 5,527 votes for Clinton and 5,643 for Trump.

If Trump has trouble with women in Commerce Twp. and West Bloomfield, does that translate into votes for Michael Stack?

14. 85th (R to D) — *NR

Republican Hartmann Aue underperformed in this district, while Owosso Mayor Ben Frederick won in a 66 percent landslide in the crowded Republican field. Democrats’ preferred Anthony Karhoff pulled out a victory with 34 percent of the vote, followed closely by John Horvath.

15. 66th (R to D) — *NR

The victors in last night’s primary, Republican Beth Griffin and Democrat Annie Brown, have both raised similar war chests ahead of the primary, with Griffin having the slight cash on hand advantage at close of books. Griffin and Brown both have strong resumes to win this seat, but Griffin comes in with a historical Republican edge.

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