Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Michigan: Lots of Races to Watch; Will There Be a Surprise?

Shira Toeplitz/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Democrats expect Rep. Gary Peters, seen here campaigning door-to-door in the Detroit-based 14th district, to defeat his opponent in the Democratic Member-vs.-Member primary.

And itís probably all for naught: Whoever wins the nomination will probably lose to freshman Rep. Justin Amash in this Republican-leaning district.

Democrats expect Pestka to prevail because he has run a better-funded campaign. The former judge loaned his campaign almost $600,000.

Thomas, who is openly gay, has presented himself as the true progressive in the race. Heís attacked Pestka as a conservative, specifically targeting his anti-abortion position (Pestka argues he is personally anti-abortion but would not legislate that way).

When Republicans redrew Amashís district, they made it slightly more Democratic by moving Battle Creek into it. Michigan Republicans privately gripe about Amashís allegiances to the movement of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), but they still donít view him as vulnerable under the new lines.  

National Democrats suggest Amash is vulnerable and have targeted him in press releases. But they have yet to reserve any airtime in the district ó a signal the party is not yet ready to invest in the winner of this primary.

5th District

Many Democrats have been waiting for 18-term Rep. Dale Kildee (D) to retire so they could run for this eastern Michigan stronghold. The party expected several ambitious Democrats to line up for the chance to represent this safe seat.

It didnít work out that way at all. Several Democratic candidates initially started campaigns. The field included formidable Democrats, including former Rep. Jim Barcia (Mich.), a five-term Member who more recently served in the state Legislature.

But former Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee slowly cleared the field by the filing deadline. The retiring Congressmanís nephew will walk into this House seat in November.

6th District

Early this cycle, conservatives zeroed in on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton as one of their top House targets. They viewed his potential loss as a conservative trophy prize if

his 2010 opponent, former state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, could run a stronger campaign this cycle.

At first, it didnít look good for Upton.

He defeated Hoogendyk by 14 points in the 2010 primary. Last November, the deep-pocketed Club for Growth publicly encouraged Hoogendyk run again. A few months later, the conservative group spent $50,000 blasting the Congressman in his district.

But this primary fizzled fast. Hoogendykís campaign never raised enough to respond when Upton started to attack. A few weeks before the primary, Hoogendyk reported less than $22,000 in the bank (about 1.3 percent of Uptonís cash on hand). The club never endorsed Hoogendyk or spent any more on his behalf.

Third-party interest groups, such as the American Optometric Association Political Action Committee, spent heavily for Upton ó about $277,000 in independent expenditures.

Upton led Hoogendyk 61 percent to 31 percent in an EPIC-MRA poll of 800 likely primary voters taken July 28-29.

Republicans will be very surprised if Upton loses tonight.

11th District

This exurban district hosts the strangest House primaries in the country.

Republican officials support a write-in candidate, former state Sen. Nancy Cassis, over the only candidate on the GOP ballot, reindeer rancher Kerry Bentivolio.

Recent polling shows Cassis has a shot, but write-in campaigns are historically difficult and unpredictable. She must also counter more than $700,000 in independent expenditures on behalf of Bentivolio from national libertarian and tea party groups.

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