2014 August Primary Winners, Losers and Surprises

by Susan J. Demas

Split Decision for Tea Party, Business Groups Rack Up Big Win with Prop 1

More people appear to be talking about last night’s Michigan primary than actually voted in it. Inside Michigan Politics is here to cut through the clutter of who won, who lost and who stunned.

Winners

  • Tea Party. They can claim some high-profile victories with U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI-3), Todd Courser, the almost Michigan GOP chair, in HD-82, and family values guru Gary Glenn in HD-98. The Tea Party also knocked off an incumbent, Rep. Frank Foster (R-Pellston), with the somewhat unknown Lee Chatfield in HD-107. Toppling an establishment Republican is always the prize for this movement.
  • Business Groups. If you only read news site comments and Facebook (and some of the polling), you’d have thought Proposal 1 was toast. But the confusing measure passed handily (thanks to some big spending), which means the hated Personal Property Tax (PPP) on business equipment will go the way of the dodo. Business interests also got an assist from a bipartisan cadre of local government leaders who argued most of the lost revenue would be replaced. But make no doubt about it -- Prop 1 checks off yet another key item on business groups’ agenda during the Gov. Rick Snyder era.

Losers

  • Tea Party. Establishment Republicans ruled in congressional contests. Former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) dispatched state Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) in MI-08. State Sen. John Moolenaar (R-Midland) easily beat self-funder Paul Mitchell in MI-04. Attorney Dave Trott ousted U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI-11), although that had more to do with the latter’s half-baked campaign than his Tea Party politics. And the Tea Party couldn’t even come through in blood-red Livingston County to boost one of their own, Wendy Day, in HD-47.
  • LGBT Rights. Rep. Frank Foster (R-Pellston) may not have realized he was putting his job on the line by signaling he’d support adding gays. lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people to the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, something backed by 75% of Michigan voters. But he did, as his rural U.P. district punished him last night for that and expanding Medicaid. Gov. Rick Snyder, who’s not exactly besties with the Tea Party, has even been mealy-mouthed about expanding Elliot-Larsen. Hard to see a conservative Republican Legislature going down that road now.

Surprises

  • Brenda Lawrence. The Southfield mayor flew under the radar, with pundits predicting state Rep. Rudy Hobbs (D-Southfield) would edge out former U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke (R-Detroit) in MI-13. But Lawrence prevailed in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), thanks to her superior ground game and EMILY’s List endorsement.
  • Cyndi Peltonen. Who? She’s the Democrats’ nominee in SD-13, and the race wasn’t that close. While everyone, including IMP, presumed well-financed attorney Ryan Fishman had it in the bag and might make the general election competitive for the seat vacated by term-limited state Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy), the Democratic primary electorate showed it wasn’t enamored with the former Republican.
  • Harvey Santana. Labor wanted the outspoken Democratic rep. gone from HD-09, but he blew challenger Hussein Berry out of the water with 75% of the vote. The Powering the Economy PAC, an arm of the Detroit Regional Chamber that had a very good night, extended a helping hand.