Record amounts of money pour into fight for Michigan state House

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Democrats and Republicans are raising record amounts of money this fall in the high stakes fight for control of the state House.

On Monday — eight days before the Nov. 3 election — the main committees of the two caucuses reported raising a combined $4.6 million from July 21 through Oct. 20, an 84% increase over the $2.5 million total from the same period two years ago.

The House Republican Campaign Committee raised $2.35 million, which was a record total for the GOP caucus for the period. The House Democratic Fund raised $2.25, which was a record total for the Democratic caucus.

Members of the State House of Representatives are sworn in.

Republicans control 58 of the 110 seats in the Michigan House, which is up for election every two years. The Democrats need to flip four GOP seats to win control of the lower chamber, where Republicans have held the majority since the 2010 election.

"The people of Michigan trust Republican leadership when it comes to the most important issues," said House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering. "That is why they support our caucus and why they will support our candidates at the ballot box in a few short days."

The House Democratic Fund's $2.25 million total raised from July 21 through Oct. 20 was about double the $1.16 million the caucus reported raising over the same period two years ago.

"This is the most important election of our lifetime, and these numbers show that people are hungry for real leadership in Michigan," said Rep. Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Township.

"As we’ve said before, this election is about moving Michigan forward," Lasinski added. "The people are with us, the momentum is on our side, and we’re ready to deliver real results for our state and country."

The caucus committees' fundraising reports were due to the Michigan Secretary of State on Monday. Candidates had to turn their individual disclosures in on Friday. Of the 11 most competitive races, Democratic candidates reported a fundraising advantage in six.

Among the most expensive races is the Oakland County contest between state Rep. Ryan Berman, R-Commerce Township, and Democratic challenger Julia Pulver, a West Bloomfield Township nurse. Those two candidates have combined to draw $1.4 million in direct and in-kind contributions.

The House Democratic Fund reported 852 individual contributions from July 21 through Oct. 20. Its top donors included the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee, which gave $387,000; Paul and Wendy Greeney of Traverse City, who gave $83,950; and the Service Employees International Union Michigan State Council, which gave $41,975.

The maximum amount a donor, other than a state political party, can give to a caucus committee each year is $41,975.

The House Republican Campaign Committee reported 451 individual contributions from July 21 through Oct. 20. Its top donors included members of west Michigan's DeVos family, who gave $293,804; members of the Haworth family, who gave $80,000; and J.C. Huizenga of Grand Rapids, who gave $41,975.

For the two-year election cycle, the House Republican committee has raised $7.2 million. The House Democratic committee has raised $5.2 million.