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Who’s running for Senate in 2018?

January 25, 2017

Article courtesy of MIRS News Service

Earlier this month, former Rep. Jon BUMSTEAD filed a campaign committee to begin raising money for the 34th District Senate seat currently held by Sen. Goeff HANSEN (R-Hart).

With that action, Bumstead becomes the fourth current or former House member to file for a run at the Senate in 2018, giving MIRS an excuse to give an early look into how the fields in various open Senate seats may shape up in two years. 

Clearly, it’s early. But if potential candidates are already talking about what they’re going to do when 26 members of the 38-member Senate are termed out of office, so will we. 

Let’s start with the 34th District, a likely battleground seat that could feature the Newaygo County Bumstead against former Rep. Marcia HOVEY-WRIGHT (D-Muskegon), unless Collene LAMONTE can be talked into it, which will be a tough sell considering her old House seat opens up. 

As far as others to file campaign committees, Rep. Scott DIANDA (D-Calumet) filed his for the 38th District before Christmas. Dianda, whose district includes the Western Upper Peninsula, is looking at the seat being left open by term-limited Sen. Tom CASPERSON (R-Escanaba). His House colleague, Rep. John KIVELA (D-Marquette), is a potential primary opponent. On the right, former Rep. Ed MCBROOM is sending signals he’s going to run, but has not made any official moves. 

The first Senate candidate out of the gate was former Rep. Mike CALLTON (R-Nashville), who filed a committee in term-limited Sen. Mike NOFS’s (R-Battle Creek) 19th Senate seat last August. Callton has aggressively socked away cash since his crusade on Michigan’s medical marijuana laws. But money alone may not be enough to keep the field clear for Nofs. Former Speaker Jase BOLGER is another name to consider there. 

If Sen. Mike GREEN (R-Mayville) leaves office early to run a local U.S. Department of Agriculture office for President-Elect Donald TRUMP, former Rep. Kevin DALEY likely will not be the only Republican to run in a special election for the 31st Senate District. Keep an eye on what Rep. Gary HOWELL (R-North Branch) does there. 

Howell likely wouldn’t give up his House seat to run against Daley in a primary, but if Green splits early, Howell would have nothing to lose. 

On the Democratic side, former Sen. Charles BRUNNER (D-Bay City) would be the safest bet, even though Bay County Drain Commissioner Joe RIVET is always a possibility. 

Other potential candidates for open seats in 2018 include: 

1st District – Sen. Coleman YOUNG  II (D-Detroit) 
Current Reps. Stephanie CHANG (D-Detroit) and Rose Mary ROBINSON (D-Detroit) and former Rep. Alberta TINSLEY-TALABI (D-Detroit) have been lobbed as potential contenders to replace Young in 2018. Robinson said she has been approached about the race, but remains undecided. 

2nd District – Sen. Bert JOHNSON D-Highland Park) 
Rep. Brian BANKS (D-Harper Woods) is top contender for this open Detroit district seat as long as his legal situation gets cleared up. Banks is the lone member who currently lives in this district, setting him up nicely. Of course, this is a primarily Detroit seat so residency can get a little fluid. 

3rd District – Sen. Morris HOOD III (D-Detroit) 
Mention this open seat and one name instantly comes to mind: Santana. Right now, the two most well-known contenders of this seat could either be Rep. Sylvia SANTANA (D-Detroit), or her husband, former Rep. Harvey SANTANA. But look beyond the legislative roster and other eligible names comes to the top — perhaps Wayne County Commissioner Gary WORONCHAK? 

6th District- Sen. Hoon-Young HOPGOOD (D-Taylor) 
Currently, Reps. Erika GEISS (D-Taylor) and Robert KOSOWSKI (D-Westland) are eligible contenders for this seat. Another candidate could be Rep. Kristy PAGAN (D-Canton), but the question is, will Pagan try win out in a potential three-way primary with her colleagues or will she set her sights on the 7th District seat down the road. 

7th District – Sen. Patrick COLBECK (R-Canton) 
With the Plymouth-Canton area trending increasingly Democrat in the last election, this seat could be a potential pick-up for Democrats with Pagan as their candidate. Her House district is included in the Senate district, but Pagan would have to move down the road to qualify. On the Republican side, Rep. Laura COX (R-Livonia) has suggested she’s considering a run, which would give the R’s a top-shelf candidate. 

8th District – Sen. Jack BRANDENBURG (R-Harrison Twp.) 
Dueling Macomb Italians, former Rep. Tony FORLINI and current Rep. Pete LUCIDO (R-Shelby Twp.), look to be queuing up to run for this safe Republican seat, but you can never count out former Rep. Pete LUND. 

9th District – Sen. Steve BIEDA (D-Warren) 
The Democratic Caucus’ champion of Michigan’s roadways, former Rep. Marilyn LANE has been reported to be the top choice for this slot. It’s hard to find somebody better positioned. 

10th District – Sen. Tory ROCCA (R-Sterling Heights) 
Rep. Henry YANEZ (D-Sterling Heights) is a likely candidate on the Democratic side. His 2016 opponent in the House, Republican Steve NAUMOVSKI, filed his campaign committee for the seat in December, but Republicans likely will try to find more candidates here. Isn’t there another Rocca who can run? 

11th District – Sen. Vincent GREGORY (D-Lathrup Village) 
Reps. Jeremy MOSS (D-Southfield), Christine GREIG (D-Northville) and Robert WITTENBERG (D-Oak Park) are the mostly likely candidates for this seat. Prior to running for state House, Moss was city councilman in Southfield, a city that makes up roughly a third of the district. Similarly, Gregory’s Oakland County Commission district included the northeast portion of Southfield, Lathrup Village and Berkley. 

12th District – Sen. Jim MARLEAU (R-Lake Orion) 
Former Rep. Brad JACOBSEN has been long-eyeing a bid for this seat when it opens in 2018, while current Rep. Jim TEDDER (R-Clawson) is reportedly interested. Another possibility is Rep. Mike McCREADY (R-Birmingham), whose 40th District makes up part of this Senate district, but he’d need to move in order to be eligible. 

14th District – Sen. Dave ROBERTSON (R-Grand Blanc) 
Rumors of Secretary of State Ruth JOHNSON’s interest in the seat in 2018 are out there, but the surer thing is that former Rep. Gail HAINES gets in. Also, keep an eye on what Rep. Joe GRAVES (R-Argentine Twp.) does. 

15th District – Sen. Mike KOWALL (R-White Lake)
McCready’s district stretches into the 15th, but it’s more likely Rep. Klint KESTO (R-Commerce Twp.) throws his hat into the ring. Former Rep. Eileen KOWALL is a good bet to attempt to succeed her husband, as well. Kesto, who chaired the Judiciary Committee last session, is also rumored to be considering a run for Attorney General. 

Would Rep. Jim RUNESTAD (R-White Lake) jump into the race along with Kowall, another White Lake resident? 

18th District – Sen. Rebekah WARREN (D-Ann Arbor) 
Former Rep. Jeff IRWIN has expressed interest here, though no formal announcements have been made. Other possibilities include Rep. Adam ZEMKE (D-Ann Arbor), a solid fundraiser. Former Rep. David RUTLEDGE (D-Superior Twp.) also has the credentials to run. 

21st District – Sen. John PROOS (R-St. Joseph) 
He may be Mr. Budget Director for now, but could Al PSCHOLKA return as ‘Senator Pscholka’ in 2018? Pscholka is the most likely candidate at this point, but Rep. Dave PAGEL (R-Berrien Springs) also represents this area. 

22th District – Sen. Joe HUNE (R-Hamburg) 
Rep. Lana THEIS (R-Brighton) is the most likely candidate out of Livingston County, but it’s hard to imagine a Republican from Washtenaw County doesn’t get in. Maybe a return of Rep. Mark OUIMET? 

24th District – Sen. Rick JONES (R-Grand Ledge) 
So what does House Speaker Tom LEONARD (R-DeWitt) do? Senate? Attorney General? U.S. Senate? Nobody’s star is brighter right now. If Leonard passes on the state Senate, his friend, Rep. Tom BARRETT (R-Pottersville) makes the most sense here. 

26th District – Sen. Phil PAVLOV (R-St. Clair) 
House Majority Floor Leader Dan LAUWERS (R-Brockway) is the most likely scenario here, even though an aggressive Shane HERNANDEZ (R-Port Huron) is a thought worth considering. Would Rep. Ed CANFIELD (R-Sebawaing) get in if too many St. Clair County candidates get in? 

26th District – Sen. Tonya SCHUITMAKER (R-Lawton) 
Former Rep. Aric NESBITT proved his chops last session as both an aggressive campaigner as chair of the House Republican Campaign Committee and effective statesman cutting the House’s final deal on energy reform, making him an obvious choice. But former Rep. Bob GENETSKI could also come back as potential candidate, having represented Allegan County in the past. 

29th District – Sen. Dave HILDENBRAND (R-Lowell) 
Though Kent County is a Republican stronghold, Senate Democrats view this seat as a potential pick-up with Rep. Winnie BRINKS (D-Grand Rapids). On the right, Rep. Chris AFENDOULIS (R-Grand Rapids Twp.) would be a strong opponent in 2018. 

30th District – Sen. Arlan MEEKHOF (R-West Olive) 
Two possibilities immediately come to mind for this Ottawa County seat: Former Rep. Joe HAVEMAN and Rep. Daniela GARCIA (R-Holland). Haveman proved herself a champion of corrections issues while House Appropriations Committee Chair and the Senate would be a logical step for the former representative. Garcia’s political finesse made her a rising star in the House last session. This is presuming former Rep. Amanda PRICE isn’t interested, which maybe we shouldn’t presume. 

33rd District – Sen. Judy EMMONS (R-Sheridan) 
If former Speaker Kevin COTTER wants to come back to Lansing, this is the seat to run for, but does former Rep. Joel JOHNSON have more fire to run? Former Rep. Rick OUTMAN may be the best positioned from a logistical sense.

35th District – Sen. Darwin BOOHER (R-Evart) 
Former Reps. Bruce RENDON and Ray FRANZ are likely to return for a run for the Northern Lower Peninsula in 2018. Between the two candidates, Rendon has more money in the bank to start with $34,426. Franz has $16,719.

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