Insider: Bentivolio write-in effort drew little support

Detroit News staff

Congressman KerryBentivolio's write-in candidacy a week ago was a bigger dud than the Michigan Democratic Party's failed effort to get more of its partisans to the polls compared with 2010.

The Milford Republican ended up getting fewer votes than Libertarian Party candidate John Tatar for the 11th Congressional District seat covering parts of Oakland and Wayne counties that was won by Birmingham GOP lawyer Dave Trott.

Less than 1 percent, or 1,914 voters, wrote in a name for the seat other than Trott, Tatar and Democrat Bobby McKenzie, but the Oakland and Wayne clerk offices couldn't say how many were specifically cast for first-term U.S. Rep. Bentivolio. The Oakland County clerk was still tallying the exact write-in results on Wednesday.

By contrast, Tatar received 7,710 votes, or more than 3 percent of the ballots cast.

It was an ignominious result for the Kerry-for-Terri campaign — the Insider's slogan for Bentivolio's rationale that he was running to rally disaffected Republicans into voting for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land, not to exact revenge for his bitter primary loss to Trott. Land, the former two-time secretary of state, lost to Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, 54 percent-41 percent.

"It is incredibly difficult to run a write-in campaign in a partisan race when you've lost a primary," East Lansing political strategist Steve Mitchell said. "... It was a fool's errand to try and do that."

Bentivolio's performance was a glaring contrast to Detroit Mayor MikeDuggan's write-in primary victory and then general election triumph last year, but the Detroit Democrat had $1.4 million in support from a super political action committee. Bentivolio had about $41,000 in cash with a month remaining before the Nov. 4 election and no outside aid.

Detroit's election blues

Among the other public officials who had a less-than-sterling Election Night was Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey.

Winfrey turned heads five days before the election by declaring she expected 40 percent of Detroit registered voters to participate, up from 31 percent in 2010.

"It may be a close race. We prepare for that and give it (turnout) a little bump up based on that," Winfrey told reporters at a news conference the day before Halloween.

Republicans doubted the projection and argued Winfrey was trying to scare them into believing a surge of voters were coming for Democrat Mark Schauer, even though absentee ballot numbers on the Friday before the election didn't suggest a Democratic wave.

The turnout barely rose to 31.41 percent from 31.4 percent four years ago.

Detroit also continued to lag behind the rest of the state in reporting its voting results, an annoying Election Night tradition.

But even if the more than 44,000 Detroit voters that Winfrey forecast had actually shown up last week, Gov. Rick Snyder still would have had more than enough votes to get re-elected.

Then again, this isn't the first time Detroit has over-promised and under-delivered.

A somber win for Peters

Congressman Gary Peters will be the only incoming Democratic freshman senator because of the wave of Republicans elected last week to open Senate seats.

The distinction for the Bloomfield Township Democrat is rare. The last time one of the two major parties had only one incoming freshman senator was in 2006 when Bob Corker of Tennessee was the lone Republican in a Democratic wave.

But as Peters prepares for freshman senatorial orientation classes, he appears to be taking it in stride.

"I've been working in the Republican-controlled House for the past few years, so I know how to build relationships with members of the other party and find bipartisan common ground," Peters said in an email. "I've worked with Cory Gardner (of Colorado) and Shelley Moore Capito (of West Virginia) who were both just elected to the Senate, and I look forward to continuing those bipartisan efforts together in the Senate."

A more conservative Legislature?

Republican blogger Dennis Lennox is painting the next Legislature as more disposed toward saying no to Gov. Rick Snyder than this one and more influenced by central Michigan than at any time since the days of ex-Gov. John Engler and First Lady Colleen Engler.

His argument is that the House will tilt more to the right since a few more Tea Party favorites were elected last week. And those newbies helped choose Rep. Kevin Cotter of Mount Pleasant to be the new House speaker and Rep. Tom Leonard of Lansing as the speaker pro tem, installing two central Michiganians atop the hierarchy.

Lennox predicts Cotter will be mightily challenged to balance the moderation needed get legislation passed against the interests of his own conservative constituency and the staunch right-wingers who want the Legislature to be independent of the governor.

Two big issues — increased road repair funding and legislation expanding Michigan's civil rights protections to include gay and lesbian citizens — will be dead on arrival next session if the current Legislature fails to pass them before adjourning for the year, he argues.

Bloomberg backs Snyder

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $3 million to Gov. Rick Snyder's re-election campaign — the most he contributed to any candidate in his $40 million effort.

The billionaire majority owner of the media conglomerate Bloomberg LP backed five Republican winners including Snyder, though many Democrats he backed lost. Bloomberg also supported Peters.

Contributors: Richard Burr, Gary Heinlein and David Shepardson