While most of the hype for 2009 is for the elections in Virginia and New Jersey, we have several important elections here in Michigan.
The big one here is the 19th State Senatorial District race. This one is up for grabs.
The 19th District covers all of Calhoun County, which is slightly democrat leaning in most years, but was won by Bush in 2004. It voted for Gore, Granholm twice, and Obama. It has two state rep districts, one of which shared with Kalamazoo County. The shared district leans Republican, not overwhelmingly so. The other district leans democrat. It was Mark Schauer's district before it voted for Nofs. After it voted for Nofs, it voted for another democrat, Kate Segal, by a large margin.
Jackson County is more competitive and usually slightly republican leaning, but voted for Granholm once and Obama once. It did vote for Bush twice and Posthumus once. The state rep districts were Republican districts for awhile until the 2006 elections where Marty Griffin and Mike Simpson both won in Districts 64 and 65. Griffin is the former mayor of Jackson and the Current state rep in District 64.
Mike Nofs (R) and Marty Griffin (D) are facing off for this seat. Mike Nofs is from Battle Creek and has a knack of winning difficult races that Republicans have difficulty winning. So does Marty Griffin on the democrats side.
62nd District State Rep Results
|62th District||Mike Nofs||Ted Dearing||GOP%||Dem%|
|City of Albion||744||1380||35.03%||64.97%|
|City of Battle Creek (99%)||6819||6937||49.57%||50.43%|
|Bedford Twp (1 precinct)||12||13||48.00%||52.00%|
That's impressive in that district. Albion and Battle Creek are the two most democrat parts of the county, with Springfield right behind that. That was an open seat race, where they voted for Granholm and then voted for Nofs. The 2004 race was more impressive. Nofs won Battle Creek this time. Democrats can not win this district if they don't win Battle Creek by a large margin. Albion alone is not big enough for them to pull this off. 2004 was a good year for Bush in Calhoun County, and that may have helped.
|62th District||Mike Nofs||Lynne Hayley||GOP%||Dem%|
|City of Albion||974||2033||32.39%||67.61%|
|City of Battle Creek (99%)||10917||10497||50.98%||49.02%|
|Bedford Twp (1 precinct)||24||16||60.00%||40.00%|
Then there's the democrat landslide year of 2006. Nofs survives a rematch with Lynne Haley, despite a disaster in most of the state among state reps. Most impressively, he won the City of Battle Creek once again. It's usually the townships if anything that make Republicans competitive in Calhoun County.
|62th District||Mike Nofs||Lynne Hayley||GOP%||Dem%|
|City of Albion||695||1406||33.08%||66.92%|
|City of Battle Creek (99%)||8102||7432||52.16%||47.84%|
|Bedford Twp (1 precinct)||24||16||60.00%||40.00%|
Three wins. The other district in Calhoun County was and still is held by a Republican state rep. That's the one with Marshall and some of the more Southwestern townships. While one precinct in Battle Creek and all but one precinct of Bedford Township is in the other Calhoun district.
Now to Griffin's State Rep district. Griffin ran three times in this district. He lost in 2004 in a close battle where he ran well ahead of John Kerry who bombed badly in Jackson County. He came back and won twice. Griffin wan well even in some GOP leaning townships there, like Summit. 2004 was an Open Seat. 2006 was a rematch. 2008 was a trouncing.
|City of Jackson||4540||7497||37.29%||61.58%|
|Spring Arbor Township||2537||1204||67.06%||31.83%|
Spring Arbor is the top GOP area by percentage, and Baxter was from the townships. Hanover, I believe. Maybe Parma. They rematched in 2006, where the State turned against the GOP in a big way. Griffin took advantage of both that, and his 2004 results which were a "moral victory" of sorts in the future. Summit and Napoleon Townships flipped, and Spring Arbor wasn't enough for Baxter. Too bad, since he's a good guy.
|City of Jackson||3018||5703||34.61%||65.39%|
|Spring Arbor Township||1967||1161||62.88%||37.12%|
And 2008 wasn't even close. Leland Prebble was thrown to the wolves and didn't get the support he needed to give Griffin the tough race he needed.
|City of Jackson||2994||9725||23.54%||76.46%|
|Spring Arbor Township||2154||1604||57.32%||42.68%|
That's the election history of those two strong candidates in their state rep districts. Mark Schauer, from Battle Creek, left the 19th Vacant. He ran against Mickey Mortimer in the 19th in 2002 in a race that should have been more competitive than it was. Mortimer, a state rep from Jackson County, won the portion of Jackson County in the district, but lost bad in Calhoun County. For the State Senate District, 2002 was a competitive attempt, but a big win by Schauer. In 2006, in a very, very, very, poor move from the GOP to not challenge Schauer. Fulton was thrown to the wolves. It was not secret that Schauer wanted to go to Congress. He should have been hit hard in 06, and also recalled in 07/08 for his tax increase vote. That didn't happen, and he beat Walberg narrowly.
The 19th has ALL of Calhoun County, but NOT all of Jackson County. It does not contain Grass Lake Township, Leoni Township, Norvell Township, and Summit Township. That favors Nofs. Griffin ran well in Summit Township, and Leoni Township is a swing township at the top of the ticket which hurts Griffin since he's a near homer there. Here's the 2002 results.
|City of Albion||551||1575||25.92%||74.08%|
|City of Battle Creek||4709||9048||34.23%||65.77%|
|City of Marshall||1025||1498||40.63%||59.37%|
|City of Jackson||3106||4501||40.83%||59.17%|
|Spring Arbor Township||1848||803||69.71%||30.29%|
Calhoun County is democrat, but it's not THAT democrat. Not 61%. Even Obama couldn't do what Schauer did, and 2002 was a good Republican year in Michigan outside of the governor's race and US Senate race. Congress, AG, Sec of State, State House and State Senate were all positive that year. 2006 was a disaster all around. Don't blame Fulton. She was thrown to the wolves. Here's 2006. (I missed Athens Township from 02 in the Mortimer Race).
|City of Albion||420||1691||19.90%||80.10%|
|City of Battle Creek||4848||10848||30.89%||69.11%|
|City of Marshall||1011||1915||34.55%||65.45%|
|City of Jackson||2749||5792||32.19%||67.81%|
|Spring Arbor Township||1752||1287||57.65%||42.35%|
Those are the state rep and state senate races relevant to the district. For comparison's sake, I'll show the gubernatorial and presidential numbers as well. Here's 2000.
|City of Albion||784||2022||27.31%||70.43%|
|City of Battle Creek||8517||10235||44.28%||53.22%|
|City of Marshall||1704||1605||49.52%||46.64%|
|City of Jackson||4259||6431||38.72%||58.46%|
|Spring Arbor Township||2262||1032||67.36%||30.73%|
Al Gore won Calhoun by 1000 votes. Bush beat Gore in Jackson County (as a whole) by 4000 votes. However, Summit Township, where Griffin did so well, also went for Bush by 1700 votes in 2000. Is that township not being in this district a Griffin or a GOP advantage in 2009? I don't know. Leoni went for Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004, but Grass Lake and Norvell Townships went for Bush twice. From a party-only standpoint, Removing those four township hurt the GOP. From a geographic standpoint, just the opposite as they helped Griffin. In the gubenatorial race of 02, here's Posthumus vs Granholm. Schauer and Nofs also were on the ballot here. Griffin was not on the ballot.
|City of Albion||612||1502||28.54%||70.06%|
|City of Battle Creek||5843||7812||42.34%||56.60%|
|City of Marshall||1243||1296||48.40%||50.47%|
|City of Jackson||3061||4540||39.67%||58.84%|
|Spring Arbor Township||1776||888||66.15%||33.07%|
Granholm won the district in 2002, even though Posthumus ran better overall in the state than Bush. I think the big reason is state workers. Jackson has or had at least a large number of people working in the prison system. A lot of commuters as well live in the district. Calhoun County is straight down I-69 from Lansing. Jackson is straight down US-127. Don't forget the teachers and MEA. Even some of the social conservatives will go democrat in state races because of funding. This district remains close for the most part, but this district was more pro-Bush than it normally would be for a Republican in 2004. This is the high point for the GOP in this district. Bush actually won Calhoun County by 2200 votes , as well as Jackson County (all of it) by 9000 votes (2300 in Summit township, which Griffin barely lost that year). Bush didn't hurt Nofs, and he probably beat Griffin, who wasn't an unknown then as he was Jackson's mayor.
|City of Albion||898||2174||28.94%||70.06%|
|City of Battle Creek||10314||11583||46.59%||52.32%|
|City of Marshall||2012||1713||53.50%||45.55%|
|City of Jackson||5257||7142||41.93%||56.97%|
|Spring Arbor Township||2763||1105||70.77%||28.30%|
53% is damn good in this district, and that was by both narrowing the gap in Battle Creek, Springfield, and Jackson, and also racking up numbers in the townships. 2006 was ugly, as was 2008. Dick DeVos was wrongly painted as an outsourcer of jobs, but there was Bush fatigue and ugly corruption with many in leadership. 2008 was no different, with McCain quitting. This is a populist district, and while it is conservative, it is not republican by any stretch of the imagination. That's particular true in the townships. Here's 2006.
|City of Albion||539||1606||24.83%||73.98%|
|City of Battle Creek||6069||9580||38.20%||60.30%|
|City of Marshall||1299||1676||42.89%||55.33%|
|City of Jackson||3370||5381||37.89%||60.51%|
|Spring Arbor Township||1992||1154||62.74%||36.35%|
That was bad, and so is 2008. Keep in mind that DeVos and McCain both won Summit Township which is in a different district, but was one of Griffin's stronger areas. Here's 08. Not quite as bad as 06, but close. 08 was more high democrat because of Albion, Battle Creek, and Jackson City which has more minorities. It wasn't AS across the board as 06, but McCain won many of those areas which Bush won big by lower margins. Bush won Marshall twice, which is a key area here. Nofs did not represent Marshall as a state rep. Griffin can win if he wins that area. Here's 08.
|City of Albion||719||2584||21.51%||77.32%|
|City of Battle Creek||8916||13975||38.41%||60.21%|
|City of Marshall||1733||1931||46.51%||51.83%|
|City of Jackson||4162||8856||31.47%||66.96%|
|Spring Arbor Township||2460||1418||62.64%||36.11%|
2008 is almost a reverse of 2004 Bush by percentage. It wasn't quite the low watermark of 2006, but it damn well close. That's why this special election is so important. This district mirrors much of America. You have industrial cities (Battle Creek, Jackson, Albion). You have a swing small town in middle America (Marshall). You have a conservative college anchoring Spring Arbor. You have a liberal college in Albion. You have a sizable minority population in Albion, Jackson, and Battle Creek. There are a lot of rural areas as well. None of the areas outside of Albion are uber-democrat. None of the areas outside of Spring Arbor are sizable and uber-Republican. It's a populist district and leans right on social issues, but centrist to slightly left of center on economic issues. It does not trust big business. It doesn't trust the federal government much either, but state government is a different story. Lansing isn't far from here.
It will be a very interesting race, and while Virginia and New Jersey have the hype, this is one to watch as well. The 19th District mirrors America well, and its performance in this special election will turn some heads, no matter who wins.