Elections & Northern Michigan Politics

Aaron Selbig

A pair of political newcomers is challenging three incumbents on the Traverse City commission. All five candidates gathered Wednesday night at a forum put on by the League of Women Voters of the Grand Traverse Area.

The forum packed a large community room at the Traverse Area District Library. Voters showed up to hear from five candidates running for three seats on the city commission.

Matt Mikus

Northern Michigan Rep. Jack Bergman took questions in Petoskey over the weekend. Bergman spoke at North Central Michigan College on Saturday.

He was asked about natural resources, immigration and health care reform.

Bergman said he wants to find solutions to improve health care but the problem is challenging, especially in rural areas.

 A new candidate entered the ring for Michigan Republican Secretary of State nomineeTuesday. Each political party will pick its nominee for Secretary of State at a convention in 2018. Stan Grot hopes the Republicans will choose him.

Grot is a former assistant Secretary of State and current Shelby Township clerk. One of Grot’s main focuses is election integrity.

Tyler Bevier, BATA

Residents of Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties voted Tuesday for expanded bus service. Voters approved a millage increase for the Bay Area Transportation Authority that will give them an extra $1 million next year. BATA says it will use the money to buy new buses and expand routes.

Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Max Anderson says the vote shows that the community values the BATA service.

His only opposition bowed out of the race last weekend. Now, University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser is in line to succeed Ronna Romney McDaniel as chairman of Michigan's Republican Party.

McDaniel is the new head of the Republican National Committee.

Weiser was state party chair from 2009-11 and he joined Stateside to talk about the job, the state of the Republican Party and why it was "duty not desire" that drove him back to the chairman role.

Interlochen Public Radio

Voter turnout in northern Michigan on Tuesday was the highest it has been in at least two decades and Republican voters dominated the election up north. Donald Trump won every county but Marquette and Republican Jack Bergman won a resounding victory in the race for U.S. Congress.

Bergman won Michigan’s 1st Congressional seat by more than 55,000 votes over his Democratic opponent Lon Johnson. In 2012, this race—between different major party candidates—was decided by less than 2,000 votes.

Peter Payette

Republicans in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District have nominated a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general to run for U.S. Congress.

Jack Bergman was unknown in northern Michigan political circles until about six months ago. Yesterday, he prevailed in a three-way race against two well-known members of the Republican Party: state Senator Tom Casperson from Escanaba and former state lawmaker Jason Allen from Traverse City.

Bergman, who lives in the Upper Peninsula town of Watersmeet, took more than 33,000 votes out of about 86,000.

Betsy Coffia

The race for Grand Traverse County’s seat in the state House has a new – but familiar – candidate. Betsy Coffia filed paperwork to run for the 104th House district before yesterday’s deadline.

Coffia ran for the seat in 2012 and 2014. She says she has hundreds of volunteers from past races who are ready to help again.

Morgan Springer

Republican presidential hopeful and Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke to a couple hundred people at a Traverse City town hall on Saturday morning.

The Republican's main message was to pay attention to each other because "we need to be connected with one another."

Jill Coverdill of Grawn says she’ll vote Kasich in Tuesday's Michigan primary because the other Republican candidates are "frightening."

Trump campaigns in Warren and Cadillac

Mar 5, 2016
Jake Neher

Just hours after Thursday’s GOP debate in Detroit, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump spoke in front of a raucous crowd of about 4,000 in Warren on Friday.

Trump appears to be stressing his auto industry proposals ahead of Michigan’s primary elections on Tuesday.

He repeatedly said his plan to significantly increase taxes on imported cars and auto parts will force Ford and other companies to move production facilities from Mexico.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was in Traverse City today. Hundreds of people waited calmly in line to see him speak.

Sanders told a packed crowd that the decline of Detroit - and the decline of the American middle class - is partly due to international trade policies.

He says many trade policies cater to big money interests.

Aaron Selbig

Traverse City just elected a new mayor and three new commissioners. Voter turnout in this year’s election was about 28 percent.

If this year is anything like years past, older voters are likely having the most influence in Traverse City. In the 2013 city election, nearly 70 percent of voters were 50 years old or older – even though that age group made up only 45 percent of the electorate.

It’s the same story for all recent elections. Older voters are turning out to the polls at a much higher rate than younger voters.

Jim Carruthers is Traverse City’s new mayor. Carruthers won the seat in yesterday’s election, defeating Ian Winklemann and city commissioner Jeanine Easterday.

Carruthers says he became involved in city issues shortly after moving to Traverse City in 1989.

“I got involved mainly because I don’t own a TV," he says. "And I went down to city commission meetings and sat in the audience and watched and listened and made public comment because I was raised to be involved and care about my community and I was.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek surprised voters in northern Michigan last week when he announced he's retiring at the end of this term. That decision has also piqued interest among possible Republican candidates for the 1st Congressional District.

"We don't know for sure who is definitely going to run just because the filing deadline is a while away and this news was unexpected," says Rick Pluta, the Capitol bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network.

But Pluta does have the names of some Republicans who are interested in making a run for U.S. Congress:

The details of the affair between state Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat  along with Courser's attempt to cover things up with a fake gay sex scandal  have made national and worldwide headlines.

But the two tea party, conservative Christian lawmakers at the center of this scandal are just the latest in a long history of political scandals in the state.

Nancy Kaffer recently recounted some of the state’s historic scandals for The Detroit Free Press.

Election Results - November 2014

Nov 5, 2014
Aaron Selbig

CORRECTION: Earlier copy stated Franz victory margin was less than one tenth of a percentage point when it is actually less than one percentage point. We apologize for the error.

UPDATE: 11/05 6:00 AM

Republican Ray Franz has won a third term in Lansing by less than one percent of the vote. Franz had about 320 more votes than Democrat Tom Stobie in the race for Michigan's 101st House District.

We'd like to believe that women, after all of these years, are treated equally in politics, but, as we know, that's not always the case.

A recent Detroit News column by writer Laura Berman has some examples of what she calls "a continuing snark campaign" that happens when women candidates run.

Berman’s column is titled "Candidate might dispute notion that it helps to be female." She talks about how women candidates are often subtly undermined.

In a wide-ranging interview on Friday, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Gary Peters said he does not support sending ground troops to Iraq.

The militant group calling itself the Islamic State has taken control of large sections of Iraq. But the Michigan congressman says he’s not interested in sending troops back into the country to fight the group.

Does a political candidate's weight affect his or her chances of getting elected? Or even getting on the ballot in the first place?

New research by a Michigan State University professor and his wife, a Hope College professor, indicate the answer is “yes.”

Mark Roehling is a human resources professor at MSU and he joined us today.

*Listen to the interview above.

As Michigan's August 5 primary and November election draw closer, there are some very tight races shaping up.

The Cook Political Report says four congressional Republicans are in tight races. Representatives Dan Benishek in the 1st, Tim Walberg in the 7th, Justin Amash in the 3rd and Kerry Bentivolio on the 11th districts are in very competitive races. Add to that the race to fill Democrat Carl Levin's Senate seat and the race for governor. All of these, according to Cook, are among the most competitive races in the country.

So who are the voters who could most influence the outcome of these races, depending upon whether they stay home or go to the polls?

For the answer we turned to Page Gardner, president of the non-profit and nonpartisan Voter Participation Center. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

gophouse.org

Those with political aspirations in Michigan may have to disclose felony convictions that happened within the past 10 years. State Rep. Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Township) has introduced legislation that would add a checkbox to candidate forms.

The Republican lawmaker says the bill would not prevent felons from running.

Michigan Women's Hall of Fame

Former Lieutenant Governor Connie Binsfeld has died. A teacher from Leelanau County, she began her political career on the county commission. She went on to become one of the most respected names in Michigan politics.

Women were not too common on the Leelanau County commission in the early 1970s. The way Dixie Stephen—a young mother at the time—remembers it, the men didn’t much appreciate Connie Binsfeld.

“She really did her homework,” Stephen remembers. “In the county commission meetings, Connie’s voice was always the clear voice of reason and that wasn’t always well accepted.”

Traverse City's mayor will serve 18 months of probation for drinking and driving. Michael Estes was sentenced today. His probation will include alcohol and drug screenings and attending 12-step meetings three times a week.

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Kooney says requirements like the 12-step meetings make the sentence more restrictive than what is typical is for a first-time offense.

"Also, an 18 month probation is a longer period of time than typical," says Kooney. "What we normally see on a first offense is 12 months."

Linda Stephan

Schools Struggle
School districts outside of Leelanau County had a tough time with voters yesterday.

Voters in Traverse City, Kalkaska, and Elk Rapids rejected bond proposals to repair and renovate school buildings and other facilities. Unofficial results show very narrow margins. In Traverse City the main request to borrow $35 million failed by about one percent of the vote. In Kalkaska, less than 30 votes out of more than 1,000 tipped the difference against the request.

Election 2012

Nov 6, 2012

5:30 A.M.EST

Michigan's Emergency Manager law appears to be heading toward repeal. Unofficial results show it is the only ballot drive that will be successful. (A no vote is success for the petitioners who want the law struck down.) The other five were amendments to the state constitution and were all soundly rejected.