As Michiganders go to the polls, The ‘Gander highlights some of the key races to watch during the August primary election from close calls to vacant seats.
MICHIGAN — Voters across Michigan have already cast their ballots in the state’s August 4 primary.
Already the rate of absentee voting in the August primary is astoundingly high in Genesee County. John Gleason, from the county’s election division, told The ‘Gander that a normal primary election sees about 15% voter turnout, but as of Friday more than 60% of Genesee County residents had cast their ballots.
What Genesee County is seeing tracks with what happened in Michigan’s May elections, where local proposals drew a record-breaking number of voters, most of whom voted by mail. If Genesee is an indication of this August, it could also smash previous August election records thanks to mail-in voting.
But what are Michiganders voting on? The ‘Gander breaks down seven races to watch this August.
3rd Congressional District
After leaving the Republican Party in protest of President Trump’s leadership, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash recently announced he would not be seeking another term in Congress. Amash was facing a primary challenge from more Trump-aligned conservatives.
Aiming to replace Amash are several candidates including State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis, Village of Lyons trustee Joe Farrington, and Peter Meijer of the midwest grocery chain family. Whoever wins the Republican primary to replace Amash will face off against Democrat Hillary Scholten, an immigration attorney from Grand Rapids.
8th Congressional District
Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin successfully flipped her district in 2018 with the defeat of former Rep. Mike Bishop. Slotkin, a former CIA agent and former assistant secretary of defense, will face one of four Republicans in November.
One of those four is former assistant district attorney and former Lansing-area news anchor Paul Junge. Another is Kristina Lyke, who runs a small legal practice in East Lansing.
Whoever wins the Republican primary will attempt to flip back the 8th, which FiveThirtyEight found is likely to follow national sentiments with regard to who to vote for.
9th Congressional District
Incumbent Democrat Andy Levin, son of former Rep. Sander Levin and nephew of former Sen. Carl Levin, will be defending his seat against one of two Republicans in November.
Gabi Grossbard is the Isreali-born owner of Gabi’s Auto Service Center in Farmington Hills, and a car salesman. He argues that less political experience makes for better politicians. Grossbard is up against self-styled “constitutional patriot” Charles Langworthy, who recommended voters read the constitution and the Bible to better understand his approach to government. Langworthy’s policy positions largely align with President Trump’s.
Grossbard or Lagworthy will have an uphill battle against Levin in the fall, as the Cook Political Report lists the district as leaning Democratic.
11th Congressional District
When then-incumbent Republican Rep. David Trott did not seek re-election, Democrat Haley Stevens managed to defeat Republican Lena Epstien to flip the district. Prior to running for office, Stevens worked at the Department of the Treasury helping the auto industry recover from the recession of 2008.
Stevens will have to defend her seat against one of five Republicans. Among them, Kerry Bentivolio who represented the 11th in Congress before Trott successfully primaried and defeated him in 2014. Carmelita Greco, an entrepreneur who got her start as a stock trader, is also seeking the Republican nomination.
12th Congressional District
Debbie Dingell has been the Democrat representing the 12th since her late husband, John Dingell, retired in 2014. Dingell previously served on the Board of Governors for Wayne State University.
Trying to unseat Dingell is Jeff Jones, who has attempted to unseat her in both 2016 and 2018 as well. Jones’ attempts to defeat Dingell might have something to do with the strong Democratic leaning of the district, as reported by Cook.
13th Congressional District
Incumbent Democrat Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, will square off against Brenda Jones. Jones briefly represented the 13th following the death of Rep. John Conyers. Jones also tested positive for the novel coronavirus in early April.
Jones was defeated in a 2018 primary by Tlaib, by a margin of just 900 votes. Since then, Tlaib has gone on to be a member of “the Squad”, four progressive women of color elected for the first time in 2018 and acting as outspoken critics of President Trump and Republicans.
The closeness of their last showdown and the fact that both Tlaib and Jones have represented the 13th in recent years make this race one of the most interesting and exciting of the night. The winner of this rematch is likely to win in November. Running against that winner in one of Cook’s most Democratic districts in America will be one of three Republicans.
4th Michigan House
In March, State Rep. Isaac Robinson died of a suspected novel coronavirus infection. Robinson’s district is heavily Democratic, so the winner of Tuesday’s primary will likely be elected in November.
There are a whopping 13 Democrats on the ballot ranging from Abraham Aiyash, the son of Yemeni immigrants who worked alongside Robinson for some time, to Tawanna Simpson, a former member of the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education.
With so many names on the ballot and the relative long odds for Republican candidate Howard Weathington, this race will also be an incredibly interesting one to watch.
And for all those races and more, you can check back with The ‘Gander, as we cover the August primary election all week.