Michigan Politics For Dummies 11/9/2022
Better Than Expected: Triumphs Without, Necessarily, Victories
The national consensus on the midterms for the Democrats as Better Than Expected overall is definitely preferable to any opposite appraisal. Once again Joseph Robinette Houdini surprises punditry.
In Michigan, the results particularly defied predictions of a close race that were increasingly dire for Democrats in the last weeks. In fact, Michigan now has three women, incumbent Democrats, in the state’s top government positions and Democratic majorities projected in both houses of the legislature for the first time in decades. The majority of the Democratic state legislative delegations are also women. A post written in September is on the Platform substack. And below are notes on the contests and issues covered then. I checked in with my friend Charlie Greenleaf, a former GOP gubernatorial aide and Michigan political savant, and watched a Zoom analysis from the political team at Bridge Michigan, an excellent statewide online publication, to test my opinion.
Gretchen Whitmer won re-election by about ten points over Tudor Dixon — a majority that was expected in September but was whittled down when she was finally endorsed by Former President Trump, only after he made her beseech him. In the races for Attorney General and Secretary of State, two other Trump supporters flailed and failed.
In congressional races, Peter Meijer, a first-term Republican, one of the ten who voted to impeach Trump in his second trial lost the primary to John Gibbs a far-right Trump administration housing official who is Black and received financial support from a Democratic pac. The winner by a substantial majority in a traditionally Republican district was Hillary Scholten, a lawyer with backing from, among others NARAL pro-choice.
Abortion emerged as a major factor in the races and a constitutional amendment to protect reproductive freedom covering “all matters relating to pregnancy” was approved by a margin of fourteen percent. Details on how that will work remain to be decided. A constitutional measure that will make early voting and absentee balloting easier was also approved.
A second GOP moderate who voted to impeach Trump, Fred Upton, after serving seventeen terms, chose not to run again. Redistricting would have had him oppose another incumbent, Bill Huizinga who beat Democrat Joseph Alonso, a write-in candidate. The loss of two moderates shifted Michigan’s Republican delegation further to the right.
The new composition of the State Senate is nineteen Democrats and sixteen Republicans. At last look, the House is tied at 53, with Democrats expected to prevail in all or most of the remaining contests. In the Western Michigan district where we spent the summer, a Democrat, Bill Andrews was ahead of his GOP opponent, Kevin Whiteford. Overall, according to the Bridge analysis, redistricting this year by a non-partisan commission added about ten points to Democratic Party results.
And finally, a proposal to restore tax funding of $245,000 to a library in Ottawa County that has refused to remove LGBTQ books was defeated. That would be a very serious loss, except that a Go Fund Me campaign for the library has raised $264,000.
Michigan has been considered a swing state where a militant pro-Trump constituency was deemed a formidable ongoing threat to democracy. Well, it is safe to say that those of us anticipating the November election with jitters are, for the moment anyway, somewhat calmer, if not yet complacent.
Quite fascinating, Peter! I usually do not follow the arcanae of Michigan politics so very closely, but this was a page turner! Also delighted to hear about libraries saving (rather than burning or banning) books ... and finally your adroit effort to engage your read creatively: “...has about as much chance of being elected.....”