EveryDistrict State Spotlight: Michigan


Trump’s 10,000-vote victory in Michigan in 2016 broke a streak of Democratic victories in presidential elections back to 1992.

On the state level, though, Democrats have long ceded power to Republicans. Republicans have controlled the State Senate since 1990, and seen larger gains in recent years. In 2010, Republicans gained 5 seats, controlling the Senate 26 to 11. In 2014, they gained another seat and currently control the Senate 27 to 10. Democrats have only controlled the Michigan State House for 6 of the last 26 years. Republicans currently hold a 63 to 47 majority there. Michigan is a Republican trifecta state, with Republicans controlling the Governorship and both houses of the state legislature.

This year, however, there are meaningful opportunities for Democrats to win back power. To take back the majority, Democrats need to pick up 9 seats in the State Senate, and 9 seats in the State House.

In the State Senate there are 5 seats that lean Democratic: Senate Districts 7, 13, 20, 29, and 32. There are another six seats that lean Republican that we think Democrats can put in play this year: Senate Districts 10, 12, 15, 24, 34, and 38.

Districts 7, 10, 12, 13, and 15 are all in the Detroit area, while the other districts are spread throughout the state. District 20 includes Kalamazoo, District 24 has areas around Lansing, while District 29 centers on Grand Rapids. District 32 includes Saginaw; District 34, Muskegan; and District 38 includes the western Upper Peninsula.

In the State House, there are only three seats that lean Democratic: House Districts 17, 62, and 71. Otherwise, Democrats need to compete in Republican territory to take back the House. The Republican-leaning seats we’ve identified as potential pickups are: House Districts 24, 39, 40, 56, 61, 66, 85, 91, 99, and 101.

Districts 17, 24, 34, 40, and 56 are all in the Detroit area. District 61 includes Kalamazoo, District 71 has areas west of Lansing, and District 62 includes Battle Creek. District 91 includes Muskegan; District 99 includes Mount Pleasant, home of Central Michigan University; District 85 stretches into Owosso; and Districts 66 and 101 are along different portions of the Lake Michigan coastline.

The Candidates

EveryDistrict has endorsed nine Michigan State Senate candidates. Henry Yanez (SD 10), Winnie Brinks (SD 29), Phil Phelps (SD 32), and Scott Dianda (SD 38) all currently serve in the state legislature, while Sean McCann (SD 20) formerly served as a State Representative. Rosemary Bayer (SD 12) has spent her career working in the information technology field and co-founded the Michigan Council of Women in Technology. Kelly Rossman-McKinney (SD 24) is a small business owner, while Mallory McMorrow (SD 13) served in senior positions for the toy brand Mattel. Poppy Sias-Hernandez (SD 34) is a public health professional who formerly worked for Planned Parenthood and currently runs a nonprofit.

EveryDistrict has endorsed five Michigan State House candidates. Michelle LaVoy (HD 17) works in the nonprofit sector and is a local elected official. Matt Koleszar (HD 20) has worked as a public school teacher, while Mari Manoogian (HD 40) has spent her career working in international relations. Angela Witwer (HD 71) is an entrepreneur who’s received national recognition for her work, and Dan O’Neil (HD 104) is a small business owner.

What’s At Stake

Gun Safety

Republican majorities in the legislature have worked to implement a conservative agenda. “Defending the second amendment” was one of the priorities for House Republicans in the 2017–2018 legislative session. The Republican-controlled legislature proposed a range of bills to loosen gun safety laws, including lowering the age to receive a concealed carry license, expanding the types of locations where a concealed carry weapon can be brought, and prohibiting local jurisdictions from enacting their own gun safety laws and measures.

Voting Rights

In 2012, the Republican legislature passed a strict voter ID law that would have required a photo ID for absentee voting and required voters to affirm their US citizenship before receiving ballots. Thankfully, Governor Rick Snyder vetoed the legislation.

Climate Science

Michigan Republicans have worked to undermine climate science at every turn. Michigan was one of 24 states to join a lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. Republicans have also proposed eliminating references to climate change in school curriculum and replacing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s decision-making authority with private-sector-based panels of industry representatives.

Women’s Health Care

Michigan Republicans have enacted an extreme, anti-choice agenda. To obtain an abortion in Michigan, a woman must first receive state-directed counseling discouraging the abortion and then wait 24 hours before having the procedure. Women are prohibited from receiving an abortion via telemedicine, and the parents of a minor must consent for the minor to receive an abortion.

The Incumbents

Ten of EveryDistrict’s endorsed candidates are running against current legislators (either incumbents or State Representatives looking for a promotion).

Seven of those incumbents are running for the State Senate: Michael McCready (SD 12), Marty Knollenberg (SD 13), Margaret O’Brien (SD 20), Tom Barrett (SD 24), Chris Afendoulis (SD 29), Ken Horn (SD 32), and Ed McBroom (SD 38). McCready, O’Brien, and Horn have voted for several pieces of legislation that would loosen gun safety laws. Knollenberg is an anti-choice champion, co-sponsoring three pieces of legislation that would limit women’s access to abortion. Barrett and Afendoulis have voted for several measures that would make it more difficult to vote. McBroom co-sponsored legislation that would permit adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ familes; all of the others voted in favor of that legislation.

Three of EveryDistrict’s candidates are running against incumbent State Representatives: Joe Bellino (HD 17), Jeff Noble (HD 20), and Larry Inman (HD 104). Bellino and Inman have voted to loosen gun laws, restrict women’s access to health care, restrict voting rights, and undo environmental protections. Noble notably voted against legislation that would have authorized concealed carry without a permit; otherwise he has voted in lockstep with the other two.

What You Can Do

EveryDistrict’s 14 Michigan candidates have been able to keep pace with their Republican opponents, putting them in a strong position heading into Election Day. As of the beginning of September, Republicans had only a $20,000 cash advantage. Overall, we estimate that our 62 candidates need $4 million to close the gap with their Republican opponents.

Even though Election Day is less than a week away, your dollars can still make a difference. Our “Two for Twenty” campaign has identified the 20 of our candidates who need your support the most. Whatever you can give — $5, $25, $100, or $500 — will make a huge difference in making sure our candidates have the resources they need to fund their campaigns through Election Day. You can make a donation using this link: Crowdpac.com/c/EveryDistrict2for20.

We know they can win with your support.

Want to learn more? Visit our website, EveryDistrict.us, where you can learn more about our plans for 2018 and sign up for our email list. Questions? Send us a note at info@everydistrict.us.