By David Eggert,Associated Press
LANSING (AP) – Michigan’s top-of-the-ticket gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates can look ahead to November while many others vying for the largest number of open U.S. House seats in 22 years must first survive the August primary.
The 2014 field began to take shape Tuesday as candidates for governor, Congress and the Legislature filed signatures before the deadline.
First-term Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, a former one-term congressman, will not face primary challengers. The same goes for Republican Terri Lynn Land, a former two-term secretary of state, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, despite early predictions that Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin’s retirement would spark a frenzy of interest from potential candidates.
Instead, both major political parties coalesced early behind their favorites, letting the candidates and parties turn their attention to fundraising, voter turnout and wooing independents.
“It’s a sign of the strength of the parties that people are able to coordinate behind the scenes to avoid divisive primary fights,” said Matt Grossman, an assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University.
The same did not hold true in congressional races, where Republicans have shaped maps to pack as many Democratic voters as possible into the fewest House districts. Redistricting has created such strong party majorities in each district that few contests are competitive except in primaries.
With Peters opting against re-election to instead go for Levin’s open Senate seat and three veteran congressmen announcing their retirements, 2014 will feature the most open congressional races since 1992. Two incumbent Republican congressmen seeking re-election — Reps. Justin Amash and Kerry Bentivolio — are facing serious primary challenges, too.
The GOP holds a 9-5 edge in Michigan’s House delegation.
The most closely watched House Republican primaries include the 3rd District in western Michigan, where Amash is being challenged by Grand Rapids businessman Brian Ellis in his second term; the 4th District in the central part of the state, home to retiring 11th-term Rep. Dave Camp; and the 8th District being vacated by retiring Rep. Mike Rogers, who has represented the seat stretching from Lansing to the northern Detroit suburbs for seven terms.
Another key GOP primary is the 11th District, where first-term Rep. Bentivolio — an unknown who won the seat after Republican incumbent Thad McCotter shockingly submitted fraudulent signatures in 2012 — will face Dave Trott, a Birmingham lawyer and GOP fundraiser who has raised much more money than Bentivolio.
Republicans vying to replace Camp include Roscommon businessman Peter Konetchy; Paul Mitchell, former CEO of what is now the Ross Medical Education Center based in Saginaw; and state Sen. John Moolenaar of Midland.
Those hoping to fill Roger’s GOP-leaning seat include Republicans Bryan Barnett, the mayor of Rochester Hills; former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop; and state Rep. Tom McMillin of Rochester Hills.
On the Democratic side, Debbie Dingell is favored to succeed her retiring husband John Dingell — the longest-serving House member in history — in the 12th District that includes Ann Arbor and the “Downriver” working-class suburbs of Detroit.
In Peters’ current district, the Democratic-heavy 14th that includes parts of Detroit and Oakland County, Democratic candidates include former U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke of Detroit, state Rep. Rudy Hobbs of Southfield and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence.
In November, Democrats are hoping to target Bentivolio’s seat with either counterterrorism expert Bobby McKenzie or surgeon Anil Kumar, as well as the sprawling 1st in northern Michigan and the 7th in the southern part of the state. Those seats are held by Republicans Dan Benishek and Tim Walberg, respectively.
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