Michigan Primary Previews
Michigan Primaries Preview
US Senate (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: John James, Sandy Pensler
Overview: While this primary may have been important had the midterm been favorable to Republicans, this is largely just a contest of “who gets to lose to Debbie Stabenow.” Anyway, this race is basically a wealthy self-funder (Pensler) vs a vet with lots of endorsements (James), and it appears the latter is the favorite. Polls have really moved toward James, and it now looks like he’s the favorite. He also received a very significant boost on Election Eve when President Trump endorsed him. While Pensler still could win, James appears to be the significant favorite.
Prediction: John James wins with 60% of the vote.
Candidate: Debbie Stabenow (Incumbent)
Incumbent Debbie Stabenow is unopposed.
Governor (Republican Defense, Incumbent Not Running)
Candidates: Brian Calley, Patrick Colbeck, Jim Hines, Bill Schuette
Overview: For the the Republicans, moderate Attorney General Bill Schuette quickly became the favorite thanks to a very early endorsement from Donald Trump. This has allowed him galvanize a lot of support and put his rivals desperately trying to come back into the race. Schuette has always been the establishment favorite in the race, but Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley has also received a few establishment endorsements, although he has been hurt by Rick Snyder’s growing unpopularity. Meanwhile, State Senator Patrick Colbeck is attempting to win over a lot of more conservative voters, gaining some Tea Party support in the process.
Prediction: Bill Schuette wins with 50% of the vote.
Candidates: Abdul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar, Gretchen Whitmer
Overview: Just three candidates are running for Governor on the Democratic side, but all three are very strong candidates. The clear favorite is Gretchen Whitmer, a former State Senator who represented the Lansing area in the state legislature for 14 years. She is running on a center left platform and has become the strong establishment favorite in the race, partially due to who her two opponents are. Abdul El-Sayed is running on a strongly progressive platform, gaining the endorsement of prominent left figures including Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez along the way. However, El-Sayed has struggled to make significant inroads outside the cities, specifically Detroit. El-Sayed has also been hurt by Shri Thanedar’s similar leftwing campaign. Thanedar, a pharmaceutical executive, has poured 11 million dollars of his own money into the race, and has gained some support while also being criticized for not being as progressive as he claims.
Prediction: Gretchen Whitmer wins with 55% of the vote.
1st Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Jack Bergman is unopposed.
Overview: Matt Morgan was kicked off the ballot due to a minor filing error, so he’s running as a write-in for the primary. He needs 1,000 votes to get the nomination, and he should get that easily.
2nd Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Bill Huizenga is unopposed.
Rob Davidson is unopposed.
3rd Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidate: Justin Amash (Incumbent)
Incumbent Justin Amash is unopposed.
Candidates: Cathy Albro, Fred Wooden
Overview: This is a fairly quiet primary seeing as this seat is safely in Republican hands, so there isn’t a huge amount to go off of. This could be close due to the closeness of fundraising between the two (Wooden has raised 62k, Albro has raised 56k), though it should be mentioned Wooden has a much higher COH (29k to 4k). One factor that could bring this race home for Albro is how well women have been doing in democratic primaries this year. Overall this race could go either way, but we’ll give Albro the edge.
Prediction: Cathy Albro wins with 55% of the vote.
4th Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent John Moolenaar is unopposed.
Candidates: Jerry Hilliard, Zigmond Kozicki
Overview: We have even less to go off in this primary than in MI-03. It doesn’t appear either candidate raised almost any money. But we have to give the slight edge to Kozicki due to his resumé of City Commissioner & school board member. Hilliard, who is campaigning as a progressive, may pull off a win, though.
Prediction: Zigmond Kozicki wins with 60% of the vote.
5th Congressional District (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidate: Travis Wines
Travis Wines is unopposed.
Incumbent Dan Kildee is unopposed.
6th Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Fred Upton is unopposed.
Candidates: David Benac, Rich Eichholz, George Franklin, Matt Longjohn
Overview: 4 Democrats are vying to take on longtime moderate Congressman Fred Upton in this light-red district. The main battle seems to be between candidates Matt Longjohn and George Franklin, though. The two lead fundraising with 667k and 763k, respectively. It does appear Franklin has the edge, though, due to his superior fundraising and swath of endorsements (including those of former Senator Carl Levin, former Governor Jennifer Granholm, and former Congressman Mark Schauer). Longjohn definitely has a chance at a win, though.
Prediction: George Franklin wins with 40% of the vote.
7th Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Tim Walberg is unopposed.
Candidates: Gretchen Driskell, Steven Friday
Overview: 2016 nominee and former state legislator Gretchen Driskell is expected to wrap up this primary fairly easily. She has significantly better name recognition and institutional support.
Prediction: Gretchen Driskell wins with 75% of the vote.
8th Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: Mike Bishop (Incumbent), Lokesh Kumar
Overview: Incumbent Congressman Mike Bishop is in no danger in the primary. He’s facing a political nobody.
Prediction: Mike Bishop wins with 93% of the vote.
Candidates: Elissa Slotkin, Chris Smith
Overview: Obama Admin Alum Elissa Slotkin, who is considered among Democrats’ best House recruits, is only facing a minor challenge from Chris Smith. She should wrap up the primary easily.
Prediction: Elissa Slotkin wins with 85% of the vote.
9th Congressional District (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Not Running)
Candidate: Candius Steams
Candius Steams is unopposed.
Candidates: Andy Levin, Ellen Lipton, Martin Brook
Overview: In this safely Democratic district, the main battle is between Andy Levin (son of incumbent Sandy Levin and nephew of former Senator Carl Levin) and former State Rep. Ellen Lipton. While Lipton has run a good campaign and not been destroyed in fundraising, she’s a heavy underdog to Andy Levin. Not only is Levin a member of the progressive Levin dynasty, but he’s been ahead in fundraising and has garnered a lot of important endorsements, including The Detroit Free Press, AFL-CIO, The Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Michigan Congressmen Sandy Levin & Dan Kildee. Two polls of the race have found Levin with sizable leads (51 to 12 & 49 to 26). Overall, while Lipton is running a strong campaign, her path to victory seems extremely difficult. Overall, a Lipton victory would be a massive upset.
Prediction: Andy Levin wins with 62% of the vote.
10th Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Paul Mitchell is unopposed.
Candidates: Frank Accavitti Jr., Kimberly Bizon, Michael McCarthy
Overview: 2016 nominee Frank Accavitti Jr. is the favorite on the Democratic side due to his name recognition, but he does face a strong challenge from Kimberly Bizon, who has a decent amount of endorsements.
Prediction: Frank Accavitti Jr. wins with 55% of the vote.
11th Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent Not Running)
Candidates: Kerry Bentivolio, Lena Epstein, Klint Kesto, Mike Kowall, Rocky Raczkowski
Overview: In this Metro-Detroit swing district being vacated by Rep. Dave Trott (R), multiple viable Republicans are running. Of the candidates, Lena Epstein & State Senator Mike Kowall are the front runners. Epstein dropped out of the Republican Primary for Senate to run for this seat, and has been self-funding through a lot of the campaign. Senator Mike Kowall, who is term limited in the State Senate, dropped down from the MI Secretary of State race to run for this seat relatively late in the race. While Kowall is a strong candidate due to his representing a large portion of the district (and having won by 17 points in 2016), he is the slight underdog to Epstein, who is the former Co-Chair of the 2016 Trump campaign in Michigan, due to his late entry into the race and lagging fundraising. Overall, Epstein is the slight favorite. While it’s unlikely former State Rep. Raczkowski or former Congressman Bentivolio pull off a win, State Rep. Kesto could pull off an upset.
Prediction: Lena Epstein wins with 35% of the vote.
Candidates: Tim Greimel, Suneel Gupta, Fayrouz Saad, Nancy Skinner, Haley Stevens
Overview: In this democratic target, the main battle is a three-way contest between Obama Auto Rescue Chief of Staff Haley Stevens, Businessman Suneel Gupta, and State Representative Tim Greimel. Stevens is generally considered the favorite here, though not overwhelmingly so. Her’s was the first Democratic campaign to launch here, and she’s managed to snag some coveted endorsements, such as The Detroit Free Press and former Congressman/2014 Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Mark Schauer. She also received a boost 2 days before the election when Hillary Clinton endorsed and recorded a robocall for her. While she’s been outraised by Gupta and Greimel, it hasn’t been an overwhelming deficit. Suneel Gupta, the younger brother of CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, was a late entry into the race. While he’s ran an impressive campaign, he still remains an underdog. Greimel, who was the minority leader in the Michigan House until 2017, jumped into the race early this year after much speculation. Despite impressive fundraising numbers and the support of labor groups such as AFL-CIO, it doesn’t appear that he’s broken through. While Fayrouz Saad, who was endorsed by progressive group Justice Democrats, has a slight chance at an upset, it doesn’t appear particularly likely. Nancy Skinner was a late entry, and it’s extremely unlikely she wins (or even comes close). Overall, Stevens is the modest favorite.
Prediction: Haley Stevens wins with 35% of the vote.
12th Congressional District (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Jeff Jones is unopposed.
Debbie Dingell is unopposed.
13th Congressional District (Democratic Defense, Vacant)
No Republicans filed for this seat.
Candidates: Ian Conyers, Shanelle Jackson, Brenda Jones, Rashida Tlaib, Bill Wild, Coleman Young II
Overview: In this dark blue Detroit district, 6 Democrats are vying for the nomination. State Senator Ian Conyers (great nephew of disgraced former Congressman John Conyers, Jr), former State Rep. Shanelle Jackson, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, former State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Westland Mayor Bill Wild, and State Senator Coleman Young II. 2 polls of the race have found it very tight (Jones leading Tlaib 2% and 3%). Jones has gotten a large boost due to receiving the much coveted endorsement of popular Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Jones and Rashida Tlaib seem to be the top contenders for the seat. While Jones is boosted by her high name recognition as the head member of the Detroit City Council, Rashida Tlaib, darling of progressives, lead her in fundraising 297k to 128k in Quarter 2. This race is likely to be very tight between Jones and Tlaib, but Young or Wild could pull off an upset. Tlaib received the popular Detroit Free Press’ endorsement, which is a big deal in this Detroit-based seat. Overall, hard to be confident in such a crowded field. No matter who wins, progressives are going to get a victory, seeing as each of the candidates in firmly in the progressive wing of the party. Whoever wins the primary will go on uncontested in November.
Prediction: Rashida Tlaib wins with 25% of the vote.
14th Congressional District (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Marc Herschfus is unopposed.
Incumbent Brenda Lawrence unopposed.