By Sara Powers

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican leader of the Michigan House urged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to immediately schedule special elections to fill what will be four open seats in the chamber, which would be the most vacancies in at least 30 years.

Whitmer, a Democrat, is considering House Speaker Jason Wentworth’s request but will wait to decide until after the Nov. 2 election results are certified.

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Three House members are departing. Republican Reps. Mark Huizenga of Walker and Doug Wozniak of Macomb County’s Shelby Township will join the GOP-controlled Senate as soon as Wednesday. Democratic Rep. Abdullah Hammoud will become Dearborn’s mayor in January.

Republican Rep. Andrea Schroeder’s death on Oct. 1 left an opening for her seat in Oakland County.

The last time there were legislative vacancies, Whitmer set special elections to coincide with regular elections on Aug. 3 and Nov. 2 of this year.

Wentworth said in a statement last week that he wants there to be earlier special elections in 2022 and that he’s ready to work with the governor to fund them. Michigan’s three automatic elections are in May, August and November.

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“Creating new election dates will give more than 300,000 residents the voice they deserve at their state Capitol,” Wentworth said. “The only reason not to do so would be to gain some political advantage by leaving thousands of Michigan families without representation.”

The GOP’s majority, once 58-52, will drop to 55-51 when the three lawmakers depart. Republicans would need 54 votes to pass legislation, leaving them no cushion because GOP Rep. Steve Marino of Macomb County’s Harrison Township has been absent since a legislator accused him of harassing her after their romantic relationship ended.

“We’re taking a look at all the variety of openings and determining when we can fill those,” Whitmer said last week.

Her predecessor, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, also scheduled special elections to coincide with regular elections. He said it minimized extra costs and provided adequate time for candidates to run and for voters to research their candidacies.

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