GOP candidates take early lead in 3 state House districts in Macomb County

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Republican challenger Paul M. Smith was ahead of Democratic state Rep. Nate Shannon  in the race for Michigan's 25th House District.

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Smith was leading with 63.7% of the vote and Shannon with 36.3% in unofficials results Wedneday morning.

Among the key issues in the campaign have been Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders in response to the coronavirus and Smith's controversial statements about the alleged kidnapping plot against the Democratic governor.

Nate Shannon, left, and Paul M Smith.

Shannon, 45, who is serving his first term in the $71,685-a-year job, is a former economics and history teacher with the L'Anse Creuse Public Schools and served on the Sterling Heights City Council.

Smith, 74, is a former Sterling Heights City Council member, a retired engineer from General Motors Co. and a veteran of the U.S Air Force where he was a pilot. Smith said he ran to protect the district, which includes Sterling Heights and a portion of Warren, and the entire state from the "destructive one-woman authoritarian rule" of Whitmer.

Shannon was elected two years ago, 54%-46%, over Republican Jazmine Early.

Shannon criticized Smith during the campaign for having "a far, far right agenda and will do anything to gain power."

"We need strong experienced leadership during the time of COVID and social strife," he said.

The Michigan Republican Party and the main fundraising committee of Michigan House Republicans disavowed Smith in early October when he questioned law enforcement's handling of the alleged kidnapping plot against Whitmer.

Smith responded on Facebook to a post that shared a New York Times opinion piece titled, "The plot against Gretchen Whitmer shows the danger of private militias."

"These citizens never did anything illegal. Law enforcement is employed to punish people who COMMIT crimes, not people The Governess simply HATES. You can legally hurt Whitmer by voting out her minions."

Smith later defended his comments to The Detroit News, saying the plot against Whitmer is a "pre-election stunt" meant to disrupt the election. "Pretty much anything that happens in October most is likely a scam," he said, "unless there’s an actual act of violence."

In the only race for an open House seat in Macomb County, Democrat Richard Steenland of Roseville was behind Republican Steve G. Warner of Warren in Democratic-leaning House District 22.Results showed Steenland had 47.1% to Warner's 52.9% in unofficial results.

The winner replaces state Rep. John Chirkun, D-Roseville, who is term-limited.

Steenland, 58, of Roseville has been the city's clerk since 2007. He worked for Macomb County from 1983 through 2007 in Juvenile Court, Friend of the Court and the Court Administrator’s Office as a judicial aide and in tax collection at the Macomb County Treasurer’s Office. Warner, 56, served on Warren City Council for 12 years.

In the Republican-leaning 24th District, state Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township, was leading Democrat Michelle Woodman, 71.3% to 28.7%, according to early results.

Marino, 31, is seeking a third and final term under term-limit rules. He chairs the House Commerce and Tourism Committee and is vice chair of the Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee. He has been endorsed by the Michigan AFL-CIO.

Woodman, 36, from Harrison Township has been teaching music in Chippewa Valley Schools since 2012 and has spent summers as a division director at Interlochen Arts Camp.