Thanks to term-limited incumbents and redistricting, Oakland County residents face several Senate districts with open seats and some tightly contested races in the Aug. 5 primary. In a few districts, voters will have to make difficult choices among several qualified candidates.
Here are our primary recommendations:
District 11 (Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale city, Hazel Park city, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak Township and Southfield): Republican incumbent Jack Brandenburg, who had represented this district, is running again in District 8 because of redistricting, which moved the 11th district from Macomb County to Oakland County. Itís a competitive race on the Democratic side, with first-term incumbent Vincent Gregory of Lathrup Village running in the new district. A leader in the Senate, Gregory is associate president pro tempore and whip in the Senate Democratic Caucus. He gets our support over Ellen Cogen Lipton and Vicki Barnett, who are both term-limited House members.
Boris Tuman of Oak Park is uncontested in the Republican primary.
District 12 (Addison Township, Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Township, Clarkston, Independence Township, Keego Harbor, Oakland Township, Orion Township, Oxford Township, Pontiac city, Southfield Township and Sylvan Lake):
Two Republicans and two Democrats are facing off in their party primaries. First-term incumbent GOP Jim Marleau gets our endorsement on the Republican side; heís done a good job in office and comprehends the issues, including taxes, roads and education. Bob Gray of Auburn Hills is his opponent.
On the Democratic side, Paul Secrest of Bloomfield Hills, a retired Chrysler purchaser, has very left-leaning views but gets our nod over Bloomfield Hills lawyer Kenneth VanNorwick.
District 13 (Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Clawson, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak and Troy): This is one of the most hotly contested Senate races in Oakland County, with five Republicans and two Democrats vying to replace term-limited GOP incumbent John Pappageorge.
Itís a tough choice among three of the Republican candidates, who all have experience in the state House and are very qualified. Marty Knollenberg of Troy, Rocky Raczkowski of Troy and Chuck Moss of Birmingham all have the qualifications and ideas to succeed in the Senate. We are also impressed with Birmingham lawyer Ethan Baker, who offers a fresh voice on many issues.
But our support goes to Chuck Moss, who chaired the House Appropriations Committee and has earned the backing of the Detroit Regional Chamber as well as the endorsement of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
On the Democratic side, Ryan Fishman of Birmingham is an impressive choice. The attorney and former journalist is thoughtful, knowledgeable and says he is willing to work across party lines to make Michigan better. Heís running against Clawson businesswoman Cyndi Peltonen.
District 14 (Atlas Township, Davison, Davison Township, Fenton, Grand Blanc, Grand Blanc Township, Mundy Township, Oakland County, Brandon Township, Fenton, Groveland Township, Highland Township, Holly Township, Lake Angelus, Rose Township, Springfield Township and Waterford Township):
First-term Democratic incumbent Vincent Gregory is now running in the 11th district. Two Democrats are facing off in this race. Neither one returned our candidate questionnaire, but retired small business owner Bobbie Walton of Davison gets our support over insurance agent Tim Terpening of Davisburg. She has a decent grasp of the issues and is running a more organized campaign.
Republican David Robertson of Grand Blanc is running unopposed in the primary.
District 15 (Commerce Township, Lyon Township, Milford Township, Northville, Novi, Novi Township, Orchard Lake, South Lyon, Walled Lake, West Bloomfield Township, White Lake Township and Wixom): Republican first-term incumbent Mike Kowall of White Lake should get a chance at a second term. The former state representative and White Lake Township supervisor is a committed politician and has done a good job in his first four years in the Senate. Tea-party conservative Matt Maddock of Milford and Ron Molnar of White Lake are challenging him in the primary.
On the Democratic side, Tom Crawford of Milford and Michael Smith of White Lake are running. This is Crawfordís fourth attempt at state office. Neither candidate returned our questionnaire and so we withhold an endorsement.