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There’s Going To Be A Blood Bath In Macomb County

March 16, 2015

Last week’s announcement that U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-Harrison Twp.) would not seek re-election in 2016 spurred a stampede of potential candidate names, particularly on the Republican side.

Those most mentioned by the nearly dozen individuals contacted by MIRS included Sen. Jack Brandenburg (R-Harrison Twp.), former Rep. Pete Lund and Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair).

However, few currently elected officials ruled out what is viewed in this term-limited era as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to realistically take a congressional seat.

“As a friend told me just a few minutes ago, ‘There’s going to be a blood bath in Macomb County,” said Kim Shmina, the vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party’s 10th Congressional District, who confessed she’d even take a look at a run.

Depending on the source, Miller’s 10th congressional district has a 55-to 57-percent GOP base. It stretches from the Republican heart of Macomb County north to the Thumb, leaving little opportunity for a Democrat barring an exceptional year from the top of the ticket and a special candidate.

The 2016 election is expected to feature likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but the primaries are still a year away.

“Even in a presidential year, it’s a tough seat,” one Democratic consultant said. “(GOP U.S. Senate candidate Terri) Land actually won this congressional district in ’14. But if the clown show of Republicans who’ll run pile into themselves in a primary and a Democrat with strong name ID like (Jim) Barcia or maybe a (John) Espinoza or (Terry) Brown were to run, then the (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) should take a look at it.”

Barcia told MIRS he has no interest in seeking the 10th, portions of which he served in the state senate. Barcia lives in Bay City, which isn’t in the 10th. He said he was urged to move a few blocks back with then-U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak stepped down, but declined.

“I would never be a carpet bagger,” he said. Legally speaking, a candidate running for Congress must live in the state in which he or she wants to run, but they do not have to live in the district. However, from a political optics standpoint, it would likely be preferable.

Brown, a former three-term House member, lost to Pavlov in 2014. After being termed out of the legislature two months ago, the 55-year-old Brown said he’s been looking at “what I want to do when I grown up, a la the Lost Boys.” Up until 3 p.m. last Thursday, Congress never entered his mind.

“Two hours ago, I started making this meat loaf for my wife,” Brown said. “Since then, I’ve been interrupted so many times, I don’t know what the meat loaf is going to turn out to be.”

That all said, Brown didn’t rule out a run.

However, the Democrats most likely winnable candidate may be Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights), who lost to Miller 72 to 25 percent in 2010, a horrible year for Democrats. The new redistricting lines put Yanez a half mile out of the 10th, but he said, “I’ll dip my toe in the water and see what the possibilities are. We’ll just go from there.”

Yanez would have another term left in the state House.

The possibilities on the Republican side are much more varied.

Brandenburg said he just talked to Miller on Monday and had no idea this announcement was coming. He noted he lives five miles away from Miller in Harrison Township and praised his congresswoman for giving all potential candidates an ample head’s up.

“I think she’s a class act for announcing this far in advance that she wasn’t going to run,” he said. “She could have played games, not said anything. I think she did this to give anyone who wanted to participate a more than fair chance to compete.”

As far as his interest in the seat, “I’m definitely interested. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. And once I make up my mind, I will be 110 percent committed.”

Lund declined to express his feelings toward the seat one way or the other, instead deflecting the attention on Miller.

“Today should be about Candice and the service she’s done for the people of Michigan,” Lund said. “Whether or not I decide to run or not, I’ll decide later. She should enjoy her time in the spotlight and we should be thanking her for her time in public service.”

Pavlov released a statement on his Facebook page in which he called Miller an “incredible advocate for the residents of Michigan’s Thumb. She has always been a tough leader on behalf of the people she represents, and we will miss her working for us in Congress.”

Geographically, 100 percent of Pavlov’s senate district is in the 10th, while most of Brandenburg’s is in 10th.

Several other current lawmakers declined to rule out a run either. Political observers noted the name of the game would be to raise money not only in Lansing, but nationally. Running a congressional campaign will require more resources than likely what Lansing will provide.

Rep. Andrea LaFontaine (R-Columbus Twp.) conceded, “I’d be a fool to say I have never thought of it,” but she’d need to talk with her family, supporters and many others before deciding whether she’d make a run.

Rep. Todd Courser (R-Lapeer) isn’t ruling it out. He said he’d need to consider how a congressional run would fit into his responsibilities for his district and his family.

“I just haven’t had time to really consider it at all or had time pray on it nor speak to my wife and family on it,” he said.

Term-limited Rep. Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) admitted a congressional run is “something I’d think about.”

Rep. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway Twp.) issued a statement thanking Miller for her service.

Former Rep. Leon Drolet didn’t rule out a run nor did 10th Congressional District chair Stan Grot.

Other names thrown into the soup include former Rep. Dan Acciavatti, Rep. Pete Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.) and Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville), although the later didn’t express much interest in seeking the post when contacted.

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