August 5, 2014 at 1:00 am

Mike Bishop beats Tom McMillin in GOP primary for Rogers' seat

Mike Bishop's victory speech
Mike Bishop's victory speech: Bishop wins the Republican primary for the 8th Congressional district and thanks his supporters and family during an election night party in Rochester.

Former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop soundly defeated Rep. Tom McMillin in Tuesday’s 8th Congressional District Republican primary.

Bishop had 60 percent of the vote to McMillin’s 40 percent, with all precincts reportingin a district that stretches west from Bishop’s hometown of Rochester to Lansing.

The two men were vying for the Republican nomination in an open seat being vacated by outgoing U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers.

In the Democratic primary, Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing of East Lansing won a four-person primary and will face Bishop in the Nov. 4 general election.

Schertzing defeated Central Michigan University professor Susan Grettenberger of Lansing by 5 percentage points, 43 percent to Grettenberger’s 38 percent, according to unofficial results.

Former state demographer Kenneth Darga of Lansing and East Lansing attorney Jeffrey Hank trailed far behind Grettenberger, both garnering 10 percent of the vote.

The 8th District’s boundaries includes Ingham and Livingston counties and northern Oakland County.

Rogers, R-Howell, shocked Republicans earlier this year when he decided to forgo seeking another term to pursue a new career in syndicated radio. Some political observers believed Rogers was well positioned to move up the House GOP leadership ladder.

Schertzing will contest Bishopin a district that leans Republican. The 8th District has a Democratic base of about 46 percent during the past four election cycles based on partisan voting trends for statewide education posts.

“While Democrats will tout this as a pick-up opportunity, Bishop’s ability to raise money, his strong name recognition in the district, his endorsement from Congressman Mike Rogers and the current climate — Democrats will come up short this November,” the National Republican Congressional Committee said in a campaign memo released early Wednesday morning.

The Republican primary featured biting attacks by McMillin and Bishop on each other’s legislative voting records as both men attempted to grab the conservative mantle on taxes.

Bishop ran with the endorsement of Rogers, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard and the majority of Republican elected officials in the three counties.

Running as the anti-establishment candidate, McMillin blasted Bishop for shepherding the reviled former Michigan Business Tax into law under Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. He dubbed the MBT the “Mike Bishop Tax.”

Bishop returned fire by criticizing McMillin’s votes in 2011 that led to higher income tax bills through the elimination of popular credits, deductions and exemptions — including an expanded tax on pension income.

McMillin, an accountant and former Oakland County commissioner from Rochester Hills, was elected to the state House in 2008 and is barred from seeking re-election this year because of term limits. He is chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Bishop, an attorney, was forced out of the Senate at the end of 2010 after eight years because of term limits. He previously served two four-year terms in the state House.

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From left, Russ Shelton, of Oakland Twp., Mike Bishop, and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Paterson celebrate Bishop's victory in the 8th Congressional District Republican primary. / David Guralnick / Detroit News
Former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop casts his vote at the ... (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
State Rep. Tom McMillin of Rochester Hills was running as the anti- ... (Mark Bialek / Special to the Detroit News)