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MIRS News – Top 10 House Seats Most Likely To Flip

August 11, 2020

It’s been three months since the first Top 10 listing of 2020 and there’s a lot of changes in the bottom half of this new ranking.

Some of it is fundraising numbers. Some of it is primary results. Some is a combination of both. The fact is there is no shortage of longshot possibilities for Democrats if the bottom falls out of the President Donald Trump campaign. 
 
If he pulls out of Michigan like John McCain did in 2008, districts we’re not talking about will be in play. If a vaccine emerges early and football season happens without issue, Trump may actually do OK. He could energize supporters in Macomb County, rural Genesee, Downriver and rural Michigan, which could put districts like Rep. Jim Haadsma’s 62nd in play. 
 
The way it looks right now, though, isn’t good for Republicans. 
 
We’ll keep an eye on the 48th House District with David Martin, but his fundraising numbers are underwhelming and the number of votes Rep. Sheryl Kennedy (D-Davison) tallied in the primary is nothing short of impressive. 
 
We need to see Gina Johnsen’s message connect with moderate voters before we add the 71st back to the list and we’ll need to be sold that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is committed to spending some serious dough in MI-6 before we consider putting the 79th or 66th district on the list. 
 
Rural Oakland County is a remote possibility for Democrats, particularly with Jody LaMacchia and Denise Forrest working hard, but the Republican base numbers don’t look good for them. 
 
For Republicans, their former Detroit suburban districts like the 20th, 40th and 41st look like lost causes. They would have better luck in the Downriver 23rd if John Poe could put together a campaign that resembles anything close to what Pat Somerville did a few years ago. 
 
Also on the plus side, Rep. Annette Glenn (R-Midland) shined under crisis conditions earlier this year and continues to do so. Her reelection chances look better and better. 
 
With that, here’s the MIRS’ News Top 10. 
 
1. 38th House District — *2 
 
Republicans nominated their more conservative option in Chase Turner. Democrats didn’t nominate their more progressive option, Megan McAllister. Novi City Council Member Kelly Breen gives moderates a place to land. Neither Turner nor Breen comes with a lot of money. Makes you wonder what would have happened if deep-pocketed Sreenivas Cherukuri had started campaigning earlier. 
 
2. 39th House District – *3 
 
We shouldn’t read too much into this considering the competitive Democratic primary for county executive, but Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.) can’t like that registered nurse Julia Pulver received nearly 3,000 more votes than he did on Tuesday. He also can’t like that Pulver has raised $112,000 for her campaign, nearly twice what he’s raised for his reelect. 
 
3. 61st House District – *1 
 
Democrat Christine Morse is raising $156,000 for her campaign, which would seem like phenomenal sum. And it is. It’s the eighth-most amount of money raised for a state House campaign in 2020. It’s just that the Republicans’ primary winner, Bronwyn Haltom, raised $267,467, second only to Shri Thanedar for most in a state House campaign. 
 
She’ll need every penny she can get to stop Democrats’ momentum in this district. 
 
4. 45th House District – *4 
 
If Rochester School Board member Barb Anness can eventually attract Brendan Johnson’s former supporters, Republican Mark Tisdel could be in trouble. The primary is a mixed blessing for Anness in that it gave her a reason to campaign in the spring. The downside is she had to spend money she’d probably have wanted to save for the General. The Republican has at least a 2:1 cash on hand advantage on her as the General Election starts. 
 
5. 104th House District – *6 
 
We’re not convinced rural Grand Traverse County is going to vote for Dan O’Neil, but with $176,771 in cash on hand, the Democratic attorney is going to make sure everyone in the county hears his message. Outside of Haltom, nobody has more money to spend on a House race right now than O’Neil. 
 
Local Party Chair John Roth is the candidate Republicans wanted out of the GOP primary, but he has painfully little money and the ongoing negative news surrounding current Republican Rep. Larry Inman isn’t helpful. 
 
6. 25th House District – *NR 
 
If President Donald Trump starts to gain ground, we’ll see it in a Macomb County city like Sterling Heights, which supported the President with 52.5% of the vote in 2016. Republican Paul M. Smith brings considerable baggage to this race from his time as a Sterling Heights council member, but that doesn’t always matter to Macomb County voters (See Warren Mayor Dan Fouts).  
 
Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights) isn’t going to be able to take this one for granted. 
 
7. 43rd House District – *NR 
 
The next stop for Democrats’ spread in Oakland County looks to be Waterford. We’re not convinced it’s going to happen in 2020 to benefit Nicole Breadon, but it feels almost inevitable to happen at some point. Who would have thought 10 years ago that Birmingham would be a lock-solid Democratic district? 
 
8. 91st House District – *NR 
 
Some competitive countywide races on the Democratic side in Muskegon County likely contributed to Brian Hosticka earning more votes than Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-Norton Shores) on Tuesday. It also could be Democrats, in general, are motivated to vote in 2020. Democrats Mary Valentine and Collene LaMonte have represented this district before. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. 
 
9. 19th House District – *8  
 
Republicans got their candidate in Martha Ptashnik, but Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) is a door-knocking machine who connects with voters as a genuine candidate . . . even if she is a bit liberal for the district. Livonia is the home of Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Coxso look for the Republicans to stay here with Ptashnik until the bitter end. 
 
10. 72nd House District – *NR 
 
It’s hard to believe we’re adding this West Michigan district to the list, but if Trump nose-dives in Kent County (which isn’t out of the realm of possibility), he’s going to take it in the chin in Kentwood. Trump only got 52% support here in 2016 and that percentage isn’t going to be higher in 2020. 
 
Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland Twp.) is going to roll in the Allegan County portion of the district. The question will be if Lily Cheng-Schulting can run up the score north of 60th Street.

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