DETROIT (AP) – With national conventions out of the way, Michigan Democrats and Republicans are holding their own gatherings this weekend to endorse Supreme Court nominees and hear pep talks from U.S. Senate candidates.
Races for the Supreme Court again will be volatile contests because control is at stake. They are certain to attract millions in campaign cash from special-interest groups seeking to keep or overturn the 4-3 Republican majority.
“I think it will range from $12 million to as high as $20 million,” said Rich Robinson, who tracks spending at the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
Republican delegates meeting Saturday in Grand Rapids are expected to nominate incumbent justices Stephen Markman and Brian Zahra. The third slot will go to appeals court Judge Jane Markey of Grand Rapids or Oakland County Circuit Judge Colleen O’Brien.
Zahra was appointed last year by Gov. Rick Snyder and is running to fill the remaining two years that belonged to Maura Corrigan, who resigned. The other two seats will be standard eight-year terms.
Democratic delegates gathering in Detroit on Sunday are expected to approve three nominees who have the backing of party leaders: Wayne County Circuit Judge Connie Kelley, Oakland County District Judge Shelia Johnson and University of Michigan law school professor Bridget McCormack.
Campaign fliers already have been printed and widely distributed. McCormack even has appeared on E! Entertainment’s “Chelsea Lately.”
While all three women will be on the ballot, one candidate will be specifically assigned to run against Zahra for the two-year term. Justice Marilyn Kelly, a 74-year-old Democrat, can’t run again, according to the state Constitution, because she’s older than 70.
Democrats and Republicans also will be choosing candidates for the state school board and the boards that oversee Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow will speak to Democrats on Saturday, while her Republican opponent, Pete Hoekstra of Holland, addresses the GOP on the same day.
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