LANSING, MICH. - Democrats, despite high expectations, failed to cut into a strong Republican majority in the state House in Tuesday's election, after targeting several GOP-held seats in Metro Detroit and around the state.
Republicans expressed confidence they had held their majority, based on early returns, and Democrats conceded that was the case.
Republicans going into the election held a 63-47 majority, though with vacant seats resulting from deaths or resignations of lawmakers, the current make-up of the House is 62 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and three vacancies.
“Given tonight’s results, the people of Michigan clearly believe Republican candidates best represent them and their families and that Republican ideas give them the best shot at a brighter future,” House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, said in a news release.
House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, said late Tuesday that "while it’s disappointing that we won’t be in the majority ... I couldn't be more pleased with the efforts (candidates) and their supporters made to get our message out to working families, students, and seniors across Michigan."
Earlier Tuesday, Greimel said he was optimistic about a number of districts where he felt Democrats can make gains. There were a few tight races around the state, based on early returns.
He said he's optimistic because of the hard work his candidates have put in, and because they have focused on themes such as "investing more in education, creating an economy that works for everybody, not just the wealthy and well-connected; and investing in state infrastructure, including roads and water and sewer."
"These are the most pressing issues facing our state," he said.
Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, chairman of the House Republican Campaign Committee, said before the polls closed that he expected his party to emerge with another solid majority.
"I think our message is resonating," Nesbitt said. "Lower taxes, paying down the debt, getting people back to work."
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is creating excitement, particularly in Macomb County and northern Michigan, he said. "I think people are tired of the status quo."
More than $1.7 million was raised — and likely spent — by candidates in just five key House races in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland Counties, according to state campaign finance data compiled by the Free Press. The candidate spending may not include money spent by political parties, House caucus committees, and outside groups.
In the 20th House District, Republican Jeff Noble, a Baptist pastor, and Democrat Colleen Pobur, a Plymouth city commissioner, were vying to replace Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, who is term-limited.
In early returns, with 21 of 38 precincts reporting, Noble led with 51% of the vote, compared to 49% for Pobur.
Noble raised about $83,000 and Pobur, who received a surge of late contributions, raised about $122,000, records show.
In the 23rd, Republican Bob Howey, a Trenton city councilman; faces Democrat Darrin Camilleri, a Brownstown Township high school teacher. They are competing to fill the seat occupied by Rep. Pat Somerville, R- New Boston, who is term-limited.
Howey led in early returns, with 14 of 38 precincts reporting. Howey had 53% of the vote, compared with 47% for Camilleri.
Howey raised more than $230,000, including more than $65,000 from the House Republican Campaign Committee. Camilleri raised about $188,000, records show.
Secretly made recordings of former Lansing lobbyist Steve Marino's meetings with constituents dominated the race in the 24th District. Marino faces Democrat Dana Camphous-Peterson, who, like Marino, is a Macomb County commissioner. They are competing to replace Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township.
Marino led in early returns, with nine of 37 precincts reporting. He had 60% of the vote, compared with 40% for Camphous-Peterson.
Marino raised about $146,000 and Camphous-Peterson about $153,000, records show.
In the 30th District, Diana Farrington, a mortgage auditor and the Republican spouse of the current officeholder, Rep. Jeff Farrington, R-Utica, is challenged by Democrat Michael Notte of Shelby Township, an autoworker and the son of the late Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte.
Farrington led with three of 31 precincts reporting. She had 55% of the vote, compared with 45% for Notte.
Farrington raised about $279,000; Notte about $133,000, records show.
In the 39th District, incumbent state Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, faces a challenge from Wolverine Lake Village Councilman Michael Stack.
Kesto led in early returns, with 18 of 33 precincts reporting, with 50% of votes cast, compared with 43% for Stack, according to unofficial results from the Oakland County clerk.
Kesto raised about $339,000, far outpacing Stack, who raised about $74,000, records show.
Detroit Free Press