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Democrats win two special state House races

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Democrat Tenisha Yancey won a state House seat left vacant after Rep. Brian Banks, D-Harper Woods, resigned in a plea deal, while another Democrat held on to an Upper Peninsula seat for the party.

Tenisha Yancey

Yancey won with 71 percent of the vote, while Republican opponent  Mark Corcoran trailed with 25 percent of the vote and libertarian Gregory Creswell with 3.3 percent, according to unofficial results.

The seat has been vacant for nine months after Banks resigned in early February and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of making false statements of financial condition to try to obtain a $7,500 personal loan. He was sentenced to one day in jail.

Yancey, a Harper Woods school board member, was expected to prevail over Corcoran, a Grosse Pointe Woods construction business owner, in the Democratic-leaning district that includes parts of northeast Detroit, Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores.

Yancey credited Banks with helping knock on doors and asking his past constituents to support her in the Democratic primary even though he did not officially endorse her. Banks, 40, plans to run for a state Senate seat in 2018 and is set to kick off his campaign with a Nov. 13 fundraiser at the American Serbian Hall in Detroit.

Yancey is a former Wayne County assistant prosecutor who pleaded guilty to stalking in August 1995 and served two years’ probation. She was also found guilty of retail fraud in Calhoun County in March 1995.

Later, in 1997, she was found guilty of failing to stop at the scene of a property damage accident by the same Wayne County court and sentenced to one year of probation.

But she said voters her story of redemption resonated with voters as she told of working her way through law school and becoming a prosecutor despite legal trouble at a young age.

Democratic County Commissioner Sara Cambensy beat Republican Rich Rossway, the Marquette School Board president for state House District 109. Cambensy was leading, 60 percent to 38 percent with all precincts reporting, according to unofficial county results. Earlier in the night the two had been nearly tied.

Green Party candidate Wade Roberts trailed with 1 percent of the vote.

Cambensy will fill the seat left vacant by the suicide of former Rep. John Kivela, a Democrat from Marquette. Republicans were watching the race because the district covers Democratic-leaning Marquette County and hasn’t voted for a Republican since the early 1950s.


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