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Senate Retirement Means Michigan's Dominoes Are Starting to Fall

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Levin’s retirement cracked open the pipelines for statewide contenders in future cycles.

Top Michigan Republicans also expressed confidence in their bench of talent.

“There are a number of committed conservatives with records of success that can make strong candidates in the future,” GOP consultant Stu Sandler said.

Republicans sources noted the top Republican positioned to succeed Camp in the 4th District is state Sen. John Moolenaar. For Republican Rep. Fred Upton’s 6th District, the field of successors includes state Sens. John Proos and Tonya Schuitmaker and state Rep. Aric Nesbitt.

Should Miller retire or run statewide, likely Republican candidates for her seat in the 10th include state Reps. Pete Lund and Andrea LaFontaine and state Supreme Court Justice David Viviano.

This cycle, the national parties are focused on the Wolverine State’s three competitive seats held by Republicans: Reps. Dan Benishek in the 1st District, Tim Walberg in the 7th and Kerry Bentivolio in the 11th.

The 1st in northern Michigan is the most competitive district of that trio. Democrats are bullish on their recruit for that district, retired Army Maj. Gen. Jerry Cannon, who will take on the two-term Benishek.

But Democrats might have a better shot at the seat in 2016, because Benishek has previously supported a three-term limit in Congress. A spokesman for the congressman, in response to an inquiry from CQ Roll Call this week, did not say whether he still supports term limits.

If Benishek retires or loses, Republicans named state Rep. Frank Foster, state Sen. Tom Casperson and former state Sen. Jason Allen as likely GOP candidates.

Across the state in the Detroit suburbs, Bentivolio remains the delegation’s most vulnerable member. The former reindeer rancher and military veteran will have a contested primary against attorney David Trott, and Democrats say they plan to target the GOP-leaning seat in the general election.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee frequently touted former state Rep. Pam Byrnes as a top recruit for Walberg’s competitive seat in the 7th District, which includes southern Michigan. If he loses or retires, Republicans named Rep. Tom Leonard, state Speaker Jase Bolger, state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and Michigan Attorney General’s office counsel Matthew Schneider as strong GOP players there.

Farm Team is a weekly state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress.

In an earlier version of this article, Rudy Hobbs was misidentified. He is a state representative.

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