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.
Last November, almost half the schools in Michigan were unsuccessful at getting voters to approve their bond proposals. That included Kalkaska, Traverse City and Elk Rapids, all of which lost by a narrow margin. Elk Rapids Public Schools is back with the exact same proposal—$10.9 million over 20 years—on next week’s ballot.
Seventh grader Rebecca Marolf is excited about the idea of a new gymnasium. She’s with her dad at the Elk Rapids High School boys’ basketball game. The Cherryland Middle School student thinks the district needs another gym.
Three school districts up north are asking voters to pay to improve safety, technology and buildings. Alanson, Elk Rapids and Manton school districts all have new measures on the ballot for next month’s election.
Last November, almost half the schools in Michigan were unsuccessful at getting voters to approve their bond proposals. That included Elk Rapids Public Schools, which lost by a narrow margin. They are back with the exact same proposal that includes security upgrades at all its buildings and a new high school gymnasium.
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.
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.
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."
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.