By David Eggert, Associated Press
LANSING (AP) – Michigan begins a shake-up of its 14-member U.S. House delegation on Tuesday when at least two Republican congressmen face strong primary election challenges and voters choose nominees to contest the most open seats since 1992 after four incumbents decided to leave office.
The primary ballot also features scores of legislative races but no contested gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races — a first in state history when primaries for those elections have been held in the same year. Republican candidates Gov. Rick Snyder and Terri Lynn Land will square off against Democrats Mark Schauer and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters in November.
Closely watched House races include business-backed challenges to conservative congressmen on opposite sides of the state. Reps. Justin Amash in the Grand Rapids area and Kerry Bentivolio in suburban Detroit face threats from investment adviser Brian Ellis and lawyer Dave Trott, respectively – who gave or loaned their campaigns at least $3.4 million.
Voters also begin the process of filling four seats where incumbents are leaving at year’s end.
Rep. John Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat who has been in Congress for a record 58 years, will retire along with Republicans Reps. Dave Camp of Midland and Mike Rogers of Howell. A fourth House seat is opening up because Democratic Rep. Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township is running for the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Carl Levin.
Primary winners from the departing congressmen’s party will have the edge come November.
It is the most open seats since 1992 — when redistricting, retirements and a primary upset ushered out seven of 18 House members.
Republican Reps. Fred Upton and Tim Walberg in southern Michigan also have primary challengers. So do GOP Rep. Dan Benishek in northern Michigan and longtime Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Detroit. With a win in his Democratic-heavy district, Conyers will be well on his way to succeeding Dingell as the current longest-serving member of the House.
And Dingell’s wife, Debbie, is expected to extend the Dingell dynasty beyond its 81-year run since she faces nominal opposition in his Democratic seat between Ann Arbor and the Downriver working-class Detroit suburbs. Before John Dingell held the seat, his father John Dingell Sr. represented the district for 22 years.
The only statewide ballot measure is a proposal written by the Legislature asking voters to endorse a funding mechanism designed to ensure local governments and schools are fully reimbursed as taxes are gradually slashed on businesses’ personal property such as machines. The plan — which would not raise taxes — received broad bipartisan support from lawmakers, Snyder, the business community and groups representing counties, cities and townships.
If Proposal 1 is approved, local governments would see the lost tax revenue fully replaced by a portion of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax on out-of-state purchases, lodging assessments and telecommunications. Manufacturers benefiting from the tax cut also would pay a new special assessment on industrial equipment estimated to be about 20 percent of their current personal property tax bill.
If the measure is defeated, the tax cuts being phased in over a decade will be halted – forcing legislators to return to the drawing board.
Locally, voters in Oak Park and Hazel Park are deciding whether to legalize small amounts of recreational marijuana.
Bloomfield Township and Brandon Township have tax issues on the ballot which would help fund police operations. Tax proposals are also on the ballot in Clawson, Novi, Orion Township and Rochester Hills.
Mount Clemens voters will be deciding a tax hike proposal that would raise money for government operations as well as police and fire services. Tax increases or renewals for police and fire departments are also on the ballot in Eastpointe, Chesterfield Township and Macomb Township.
Along with local, state and congressional races, voters in Wayne County today are deciding on a countywide school proposal. Wayne RESA is asking residents for a two mill tax increase that would be distributed to school districts for operations.
In Detroit, voters are being asked to approve a ten year renewal of the Public Library millage to keep the libraries open. Grosse Pointe and Grosse Pointe Park are seeking tax hikes to improve city streets. Grosse Ile Township has a renewal for police and fire. Huron Township and Northville Township are seeking extra tax money for police and fire operations.
In Woodhaven, voters will decide a tax increase for road work.
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