McCormack leads in race for two Michigan Supreme Court seats, poll finds

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack received the most support among candidates running for two seats on the high court that will be filled on Election Day, according to a new Detroit News-WDIV poll.

Incumbent McCormack of Ann Arbor received 23% support as a first or second choice. She is among seven candidates vying for two seats, one of which is open due to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman retirement since he is term-limited by age.

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack hears a case.

Vying for the second spot on the court were Grand Rapids Democratic lawyer Elizabeth Welch, who had 19% support, while Republican-nominated former St. Clair County prosecutor Mary Kelly had 15%, according to the Oct. 23-25 poll that surveyed 600 likely state voters.

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Brock Swartzle, the other Republican-nominated candidate, trailed at 5%.

The survey conducted by the Lansing-based Glengariff Group had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points. 

"Not unexpectedly Bridget Mary McCormack is leading the charge here," said Richard Czuba, founder of the Lansing-based Glengariff Group. "I think everybody expects that. You get the designation of Justice of the Supreme Court next to your name (on the ballot). It's enormously beneficial...

Elizabeth Welch is not far behind, Czuba said, noting that the two Democratic-nominated candidates are running together in commercials and sometime campaign signs.

Other candidates were Third Circuit Court Judge Susan Hubbard, who had 4%, attorney Kerry Lee Morgan with 1.8% and Attorney Katherine Mary Nepton with 0.7%.

The vast majority of voters — more than 60% — said they remained undecided.

But even among those who had already cast their ballots, 62% of respondents said they didn’t know for whom they voted.

"Even if they voted, there's an enormous amount of people who don't remember who they voted for," Czuba said.

While Kelly, a Republican, is in a position to win the second seat on the high court,  Democratic voters seem to be more aware of who their candidates are, he said.

"Democratic voters are more aware that McCormack and Welch are their candidates than Republicans are aware that Mary Kelly and Swartzle are their candidates," Czuba said.

A lot of Republicans remain undecided, he said, adding that "Someone has't told them who their candidates are."

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN