Battles loom for open Michigan Senate seats in Macomb County
Peter Lucido is so eager to represent St. Clair Shores that he left the Michigan House after only two terms to run for state Senate in a broader district that includes his childhood home town.
Had former three-term state Rep. Ken Goike done better in St. Clair Shores in 2016, he said, he might be serving on the Macomb Community College board: "North of M-59, they know me."
That's only one of the differences between the two Republican candidates in the Senate's GOP-leaning 8th District heading into Tuesday's primary, where the winner will be the favorite to succeed term-limited Republican Sen. Jack Brandenburg.
Lucido, 58, is a lawyer from Shelby Township with a gift for attracting attention and donations. He's a frequent guest on Fox2's rambunctious panel show, "Let It Rip," and has been endorsed by the Detroit and Michigan chambers of commerce.
Goike, 62, is a low-key former member of the laborers' union from Ray Township and works in the dirt, running Goike Trucking and Excavating.
But both list clean water, skilled trades education and auto insurance reform among their highest priorities, and both can be entertainingly blunt. And in Macomb County, where politics can be mixed martial arts without all those pesky rules, Lucido had a birthday last Tuesday — and Goike texted him a friendly greeting.
Three Democrats are also running in the 8th, hoping to flip an elongated district that ranges from northwest to southeast Macomb: a former Army officer turned mental health consultant, a casino dealer, and the co-owner of a company that makes instant-starting firewood bundles, all from Sterling Heights.
Patrick Biange, 51, lists several legislative priorities, including infrastructure improvements with required maintenance upgrades, clean water initiatives and tax incentives to spur the creation of small businesses.
Raymond Filipek, 28, has said he wants to improve access to higher education and reward universities that manage to trim tuition costs.
Paul Francis, 47, said he’s weary of vague answers about where in the state Macomb County taxpayers’ road improvement money becomes asphalt. “I want to mandate that 90 percent of what we spend comes back to us,” he said.
As a businessman, the patent holder of Big Bob's Firewood would like to see Michigan work to diversify its economy — quickly. “We need to strike when the iron’s hot,” he said. “When the economy is going strong, that’s when we need to act.”
The three Democrats' campaign filings show essentially no money raised. Goike has raised $40,754 — with $30,000 of it from himself. Lucido has raised $146,315, but Goike said he went into the race expecting to be handily outspent.
He said he's banking on loyalty and relationships; he's been on the Armada Fair board for three decades, he easily won three terms through 2016, "and a lot of Democrats even vote for me." In the community college race, he spent no money and drew nearly 43,000 votes.
Lucido's first campaign in 2014 saw him set a Michigan House spending record for a primary — and after disbursing $304,000, he set up a $1,000-per-person fundraiser as he ran against a hopelessly outgunned Democrat in the general election.
Chad Selweski, a reporter for 30 years at the Macomb Daily and now the proprietor of a blog called Politically Speaking, said there may be meaning in Lucido's relatively tame spending against Goike.
"If Ludico's spending is at that level," he said, "I would guess there's some kind of internal poll that tells him, 'You're okay, don't worry.'"
Senate District 10
The recognizable candidate in this district is Democratic Rep. Henry Yanez of Sterling Heights, a former firefighter and paramedic who hit the term limit wall in his House seat. He’s hoping to claim a Republican seat held by term-limited Sen. Tory Rocca.
Yanez said he was hearing a litany of complaints about roads and expensive no-fault car insurance — “I imagine the same things they’re hearing across the state.”
Yanez, 60, said a bill addressing cost-effective no-fault was never granted a hearing in the House insurance committee. He’s hoping to take a steamroller to Public Act 51, the law that set parameters for road funding 67 years ago when Detroit still had streetcars and Michigan had no interstate highways.
His November opponents will include Libertarian Mike Saliba of Clinton Township and one of three Republicans — Joseph Bogdan of Utica, Michael MacDonald of Macomb Township and Michael Shallal of Sterling Heights.
Saliba, 34, who verifies personal loans for a lending company, wants to remove some requirements of no-fault insurance to lower costs and use medical marijuana to help blunt the opioid crisis.
As someone heavily involved in judo, he said, he’d like to see an increased emphasis on martial arts training for police officers to help cut down on shootings.
Bogdan, 31, an engineer, has taken the most unique approach among the Republicans. His website lists the other candidates' sites and contact information, and includes a long list of ideas from sources as disparate as ultra-conservative Patrick Colbeck (cut government waste far enough to eliminate state income taxes) to far-left gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed (strive to make community college free).
"The most important thing about my campaign," Bogdan said, "is that I am running to share a message of healing, combining the best ideas of all the candidates to fix the issues in our nation."
MacDonald, 38, the vice president of the Michigan Air Force Association, said he’s analytical by nature and focuses on quantifiable solutions.
One goal is to attract young talent and businesses to Michigan. “Business drives everything,” he said. “Let’s give people the opportunity to go out and live great lives, and things get better organically from there.”
Shallal, 38, is a civilian contractor who has worked for the U.S. in Iraq. He said his emphases include road repair, skilled trades education and accelerating instruction in English for foreign-born students.
He has raised the most money among the three, about $54,000. Lansing-based Democratic strategist Joe DiSano said he hopes Shallal spends it wisely: “The Republicans really, really recruited hard to make sure he’s not their only option.”
During past campaigns, Shallal's social media pages have featured links to hoaxes and conspiracy theories alleging, among other things, that NASA is altering people's brains with chemtrails, and Los Angeles public schools instruct students that Allah is the one true God.
Senate District 9
Incumbent Democrat Steve Bieda is term-limited and running for Macomb County Clerk. Democratic candidates are Warren city clerk Paul Wojno and former U.S. Army MP Kristina Lodovisi of Warren. Republicans in the race are business executive Fred Kuplicki and Jeff Bonnell, both of Roseville.
House District 18
No primary. Rep. Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores, will face Republican Kyle McKee of St. Clair Shores in the general election.
House District 22
House District 24
House District 25
House District 28
Incumbent Patrick Green, D-Warren, will face a primary challenge from teacher Lori Stone of Warren. The winner will oppose Republican Aaron Delikta and Libertarian Ryan Manier in the general election.
House District 30
House District 31
Michelle Robertson of Fraser, director of strategic initiatives for the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, will challenge incumbent Bill Sowerby, D-Clinton Township. The two Republicans facing off are also from Clinton Township: dentist Catherine Osinski Dinka and Lisa Valerio-Nowc, who also ran in 2016.
House District 32
No primary. Incumbent Pamela Hornberger, R-New Baltimore, will oppose Democrat Paul Manley of Chesterfield in November.
House District 33
House District 36
In an crowded field, Republican candidates include Scott Czasak, a House legislative director from Shelby Township; attorney Douglas Wozniak of Shelby Township; Frank Lams of Bruce Township; podiatrist Karen Potchynok-Lund of Shelby Township; and Tom Stanis of Romeo. Democratic candidates are Robert Murphy of Romeo and Kristopher Pratt of Bruce Township. The Libertarian candidate is Benjamin Dryke of Shelby Township, whose campaign page on Facebook suggests that "A Vote for Dryke is a Vote for Anarchy."