Feb. 12, 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.

The mess started in June after Rep. Thaddeus McCotter submitted a faulty petition to get on the GOP primary ballot and dropped his re-election bid. He later resigned, prompting a Sept. 5 special primary to replace him.

In less than two months, this House race became a battleground for outside spending and an ideological fight among Michigan Republicans.

Meanwhile, Democrats have their own problems. The local party backs internist Syed Taj for the nomination. Taj is favored to win, but Bill Roberts, a Lyndon LaRouche supporter, is also running.

If Bentivolio wins, some Republicans believe Democrats have a shot to pick up the seat. But if Roberts pulls an upset, Republicans will almost certainly hold the seat regardless of their nominee.

13th District

Rep. John Conyers (D) faces one of the toughest primary challenges of his career today. Democrats expect him to win the nomination — but not by the overwhelming margins he has had in his past 24 races.

The Congressional Black Caucus dean has had his fair share of personal problems during the past couple of years. His wife, a former city councilwoman, went to prison for corruption. A local television station highlighted his unkept property in Detroit.

What’s more, the redrawn 13th district includes new suburbs on Detroit’s west side. These working-class, mostly white voters are not familiar with Conyers as the civil rights hero voters know downtown.

The geographical changes presented the perfect opening for his chief primary opponent, state Sen. Glenn Anderson. From his base in suburban Westland, Anderson attempted to run a spirited campaign against Conyers. He benefits from two urban candidates also running in the primary.

But it still doesn’t look like he can defeat Conyers — at least not this cycle. Recent polling suggests Conyers will win re-election in this heavily Democratic, black majority district. The Congressman got 57 percent, while Anderson scored 17 percent in a recent Detroit Free Press poll conducted by EPIC-MRA.

14th District

After Republicans dismantled Rep. Gary Peters’ district in their redraw, the suburban Democrat sought re-election in this downtown Detroit district. Peters viewed this as his best option for re-election because part of the 14th district included territory Peters represented in the state Senate.

It looks like he was right. Democrats expect him to defeat freshman Rep. Hansen Clarke in today’s primary. This November, the nominee will almost certainly win this heavily Democratic, majority-minority district.

Clarke lived in the neighboring 13th district when Republicans announced the new map. But he decided to run in the 14th district because more of his current territory is there. Several moths ago, Clarke  moved into the 14th district.

Clarke started off as the downtown Detroit candidate, but Peters ran a better campaign. Peters combed the redrawn 14th district, working diligently for the support of black churches. He picked up support from organized labor. He’s been running television advertisements in heavy rotation for many weeks.

Peters also crushed Clarke in fundraising. As of two weeks ago, Peters reported raising $1.9 million, plus had $530,000 in the bank for the final push. Clarke reported raising $699,000 and had just $56,000 in the bank at the same time.

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