August 5, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Knollenberg edges Raczkowski in GOP primary for state Senate seat

Incumbent state Sen. Vincent Gregory of Lathrup Village was neck and neck with challengers Vicki Barnett of Farmington Hills and Ellen Cogen Lipton of Huntington Woods in early results. )

Former state Rep. Marty Knollenberg of Troy has emerged as the winner of the state Senate’s 13th District race in the Republican primary, defeating former state Rep. Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski by a mere 72 votes.

Knollenberg, and Raczkowski were neck and neck all Tuesday evening until just after 11 p.m., when a final precinct in Troy reported in, giving Knollenberg 8,788 votes to Raczkowski‘s 8,716.

Knollenberg, owner of a Troy insurance agency for 28 years, billed himself as the candidate with the deepest local roots and the only one with a comprehensive plan to increase state spending on roads and bridges without raising taxes.

Raczkowski, a former House majority floor leader, considers himself a government outsider since he hasn’t been in the state House for 12 years, instead tending to his logistics business. He is a military reservist after serving two years overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The primary was to replace term-limited Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, representing the state Senate’s 13th District that stretches from Royal Oak and Berkley through Rochester Hills, with an appendage that takes in Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills

Former state Rep. Chuck Moss of Birmingham was in third place with 20 percent of the vote. Moss, a former Oakland County commissioner and House Appropriations chairman, claimed his legislative experience guarantees Oakland County residents the best return on their tax dollars.

The other Republican candidates were Royal Oak educator Al Gui and Birmingham attorney Ethan Baker who worked for former President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan in their post-presidential California office.

On the Democratic side, Clawson businesswoman Cyndi Peltonen defeated Ryan Fishman of Birmingham.

In the state Senate 11th district, incumbent state Sen. Vincent Gregory, of Lathrup Village, barely escaped defeat Tuesday night in a primary race that was won by 117 votes.

Vicki Barnett, a term-limited member of the state House, lead Gregory during much of Tuesday night’s primary.

But with all precincts reporting, Gregory had 34.7 percent of the vote while Barnett had 34.3 percent.

Most of the night, Gregory, Barnett of Farmington Hills and challenger Ellen Cogen Lipton of Huntington Woods were close to tied in a three-way race.

Former state Rep. Gregory, 65, has been on either the House or Senate appropriations committee for the past six years and is vice chairman of the Senate's community health and human services panel.

In other state Senate races:

State Senate District 15: Republican first-term incumbent Mike Kowall, of White Lake, narrowly defeated a challenge from Tea party conservative Matt Maddock, of Milford, in an Oakland County state Senate race that was being closely watched Tuesday night.

Kowall won with 49.8 percent of the vote.

On the Democratic side, Michael Smith, of White Lake, defeated Tom Crawford, of Milford, winning 61.3 percent of the vote.

And in the state House of Representatives:

State House District 27: Insurance agent Robert Wittenberg, of Oak Park, defeated four other Democrats for the nomination to succeed term-limited state Rep. Ellen Lipton, D-Huntington Woods.

Trailing were Andrew Robert Cissell, of Oak Park, a 26-year-old licensed caregiver who is working to get marijuana decriminalized in several Oakland County communities; Rudy Serra, of Ferndale, a 58-year-old lawyer and former 36th District judge; Joe McHugh, of Berkley, a 35-year-old investment adviser who has a health and fitness business; and Kelli Williams, of Oak Park, a 33-year-old telecommunications representative.

On the Republican side, Michael Ryan defeated Mark Manier, winning 67 percent of the vote.

State House District 38: The wife of incumbent and term-limited GOP Hugh Crawford has won her primary.

Kathy Crawford, who has experience on the Novi City Council and Oakland County Board of Commissioners,won with 59 percent of the vote, beating her challenger, retired pastor and former business owner Dan Lauffer, of Walled Lake.

In the Democratic primary, Jasper Catanzaro won with 72.8 percent over Jason George-Wellington Dorsch.
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Marty Knollenberg (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)
Andrew 'Rocky' Raczkowski (Gary Malerba / Special to the Detroit News)