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Legislature: Female Dems Manoogian, McMorrow win in Oakland

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News
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Two female political newcomers were leading established Republican candidates in state legislative races in battleground Oakland County, according to unofficial election returns.

Democrat Mari Manoogian of Birmingham bested Republican strategist David Wolkinson of Birmingham for House District 40. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, she gathered 57 percent of the vote to Wolkinson's 43 percent, according to county clerk results.

The 40th District, which is represented by term-limited Rep. Michael McCready, R-Birmingham, includes Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township and parts of West Bloomfield Township.

In the 13th state Senate district, which overlaps with part of the 40th, Democrat Mallory McMorrow of Royal Oak beat incumbent Republican Marty Knollenberg of Troy. With 100 percent of the precincts in, McMorrow received 51.9 percent of the votes compared to Knollenberg's 48.1 percent.

The 13th district also includes Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills, along with Clawson, Berkley, Royal Oak, Troy, Rochester and Rochester Hills.

McMorrow and Manoogian, neither of whom previously held elective office, had strong showings in the August primary, each getting more votes than their Republican counterparts and making them closely watched races.

Democrats are hoping those races and several others in Oakland County will help them capture control of the Michigan House.

Democrats were buoyed by their showing in the August primary, when their party's candidates received more votes than Republican ones in three House districts now represented by Republicans.

To regain control of the House, where Republicans have a 63-46 majority, Democrats needed to pick up nine seats.

The Michigan Senate is a different story. Democrats were expected to pick up a few seats there, but not enough to threaten the 27-11 majority now held by Republicans.

Democrats hoped that voters’ displeasure with President Donald Trump would turn voters toward the Democratic candidates. Trump had a 56 percent disapproval rate in a Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Detroit News-WDIV poll. 

The presidency often is a factor during midterm elections, said political analysts.

Oakland County was never that crazy about Trump in the first place, said analysts. It was one of eight counties in Michigan to support Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Oakland Republicans are more moderate than conservative, said pollsters. Also, demographics are changing, with more Democrats moving into the county, especially its southern precincts.

Democratic voters in Oakland County already seem galvanized by the midterm elections.

In the Aug. 7 primary, Democratic candidates in three state Senate races received more or nearly as many votes as their Republican counterparts in GOP-leaning districts.

The Republican candidates will be helped by the robust economy, political observers said.

Republicans also caught a break when a Democrat candidate in a competitive race was accused of embezzling $100,000 or more from the campaign account of another Democrat.

Jennifer Suidan is being charged by the county Prosecutor's Office with embezzlement from the campaign funds of Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner. Suidan, 34, of Wolverine Lake could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

The total amount of missing funds is about $150,000, according to sheriff's deputies who investigated.

Suidan, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary in House District 39 and was trailing her Republican opponent Tuesday in early results, received nearly as many votes as all four of the Republican candidates. Once buoyed by the showing, Democratic Party leaders had called for Suidan to drop out of the race.

Here are some other closely watched legislative races in Oakland County:

In House District 38, Rep. Kathy Crawford, R-Novi, narrowly defeated Democrat Kelly Breen. Crawford received 49.4 percent of the vote versus 48.1 percent for Breen, according to unofficial county clerk results with all districts reporting.

In House District 39, Republican Ryan Berman defeated Democrat Jennifer Suidan. Berman had 54.1 percent compared to 42.3 percent for Suidan, with all precincts reporting.

In House District 41, Democrat Padma Kuppa won against Republican Doug Tietz. With all of the precincts counted, Kuppa collected 51.3 percent versus 48.7 percent for Tietz.

In House District 43, Republican Andrea Schroeder beat Democrat Nicole Breadon. Schroeder had 56.5 percent compared to 43.5 percent for Breadon, all the precincts counted.

As for the Michigan Senate, here are two other races that were being closely contested.

In Senate District 12, the close race was still not called Wednesday morning but with 100 percent of the precincts reporting, unofficial results have Democrat Rosemary Bayer winning with 49.4 percent of the vote compared to 48.6 against Rep. Mike McCready, R-Birmingham in the race to replace term-limited Sen. James Marleau, R-Lake Orion.

In Senate District 15, Rep. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, defeated Democrat Julia Pulver in the race to replace term-limited Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake. Runestad received 51.7 percent versus 48.3 percent for Pulver.

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