Michigan Changes Little After Expensive Campaigns

Republican Majority Shrinks in State House

By Jan Stevenson


Despite millions of dollars and hard fought campaigns, the results of the Nov. 6 elections in Michigan netted only small changes in our state government composition. The Supreme Court will remain with a 4-3 Republican majority and the State House of Representatives will remain in Republican control, although by a smaller margin than before the election.

In the most expensive Supreme Court race in Michigan history, Democratic nominee Bridget Mary McCormack got the most votes in a six-way race for two seats. She will replace former Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly, a Democrat, who is retiring. Incumbent Republican Justice Stephen Markman came in second, winning reelection for the other eight year seat. He beat out Democratic challenger Connie Kelly and Republican Colleen O'Brien. Incumbent Republican Justice Brian Zahra also won reelection for the remaining two years of former Justice Maura Corrigan, who left the court last year to head up the state's Department of Human Services, beating Democratic challenger Shelia Johnson.

The net result - no change in the balance of power on the Supreme Court.

The election for the Michigan State House of Representatives resulted in a net gain of six seats for the Democrats, which was not enough to garner a majority but did diminish the size of the Republican majority to eight seats, down from 20. The partisan balance is now 59 Republicans and 51 Democrats in the new Michigan House that will be inaugurated in January.

The six seat pickup was the result of five Republican incumbents losing their seats, and one open seat flipping to the Democrats. No seats held by Democrats were lost to the Republicans.

"Michigan extremists will have to work a bit harder to sweep hateful and irrational legislation through the Michigan House and for that Michigan voters should be proud," said Emily Dievendorf, policy director at Equality Michigan. "Still, the former challenges to equality in Michigan remain. The House held onto one of our biggest adversaries in the reelection of Tom McMillin (R- Rochester)."

The Republican house representatives who will not be returning to Lansing in January are Rep. Holly Hughes in the 91st who was defeated by Democratic challenger Collene Lamonte, Rep. Roy Schmidt in the 76th who was defeated by the Democratic write-in candidate Winnie Brinks, Rep. Deb Shaughnessy in the 71st who was defeated by Democrat Theresa Abed, the first time since 1964 that a Democrat held that seat, and Rep. Matt Huuki who was defeated by Democrat Dianda Scott. The open seat in the 84th, now held by Republican Kurt Damrow who is term-limited out, was won by Democrat Terry Brown.

Although encouraged by the modest gains at the state level, and more so by the national election results, Dievendorf remains cautious about the future. "The good news is that we know now, more than ever, that the nation is on our side and that Michigan voters can mobilize when inspired," she said. "Change can be right around the corner even for Michigan. But if we use this moment, full of compassion and resolve, to pause, progress can also disappear."

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