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Stage set for congressional delegation upheaval

Last week’s filing deadline sets the stage for a major upheaval in Michigan’s congressional delegation. There is an open Senate seat, four open House seats and five House incumbents who are facing serious challenges.

The Senate seat was opened by the retirement of Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat who was first elected in 1978. Neither party has a contested primary on Aug. 5. The Democratic candidate is U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township), while the Republican nominee is former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, of Byron Center. Millions of dollars will be spent on the race before the Nov. 4 election.

With Peters running for the Senate, his safely Democratic 14th District has a Democratic primary contest between four candidates. They are former Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Detroit), elected to Congress in 2010, only to lose the 2012 primary to Peters after they were thrown into the same district by reapportionment; Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, who finished third in the 2012 primary; state Rep. Rudy Hobbs (D-Southfield); and Burgess Foster, a past candidate for state representative and Detroit City Council. Christina Conyers, of Detroit, is the Republican candidate.

The other open and safely Democratic House seat is in the 12th District, where Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn), first elected in a 1955 special election and the longest serving member in the history of Congress, is retiring. Running in the Democratic primary are his wife, Debbie Dingell, chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors and a Democratic National Committee member, and Ypsilanti resident Raymond Mullins. The Republican candidate is Terry Bowman, an auto worker from Dearborn.

The Republican-leaning 8th District seat opened up when Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Brighton) decided to call it quits to become a radio talk show host. Both Republican candidates are from Oakland County. They are former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester), who has been endorsed by Rogers, and state Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills), a right wing extremist with Tea Party support.

The four Democratic candidates all hail from the Lansing area. They are Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing, of East Lansing; Lansing resident Ken Darga, a moderate economist who recently retired as the state demographer; Susan Grettenberger, also of Lansing, a Central Michigan University professor; and Jeffrey Hank, of East Lansing.

In the more Republican 4th District, where Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland) is retiring, there are three candidates in the Republican primary. They are state Sen. John Moolenaar (R-Midland); Paul Mitchell, a Thomas Township businessman; and Roscommon businessman Peter Konetchy, who unsuccessfully sought the Senate nomination in 2012. The Democratic candidate is Jeff Holmes, of Alma.

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Milford) in the 11th District is the most vulnerable incumbent. An accidental congressman with Tea Party support, he was elected in 2012 after then-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Livonia) was kicked off the ballot after filing fraudulent nominating petition signatures. He has been challenged in the Republican primary by Commerce Township foreclosure lawyer David Trott, who has the support of the Oakland County Republican establishment and has raised considerably more money.

Four Democratic candidates are also seeking the seat. They are Bobby McKenzie, a former State Department counterterrorism expert, of Canton Township; Anil Kumar, a Bloomfield Township physician; Nancy Skinner, a radio and television commentator from Birmingham who gave former Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Bloomfield Hills) a close race in 2006; and Bill Roberts, of Livonia, a follower of conspiracy theorist and perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, who lost the Democratic primary in 2012.

In the safely Democratic 13th District, Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), first elected in 1964 and the longest serving African-American in the history of Congress, faces a Democratic primary challenge from Horace Sheffield III, a minister, former Detroit Board of Education member and father of Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Sheffield. The Republican candidate is Jeff Gorman, of Garden City.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) of the 7th District, a right wing extremist, is being challenged on two fronts. In the Republican primary, he is opposed by Douglas North, a Jackson construction executive. There is also a formidable Democratic candidate in former state Rep. Pam Byrnes (D-Chelsea), who raised more money than Walberg in the first quarter of the year.

Another incumbent facing challenges on two fronts is Dan Benishek (R-Crystal Falls) of the 1st District, who narrowly won in 2012 with Tea Party support. He has been challenged in the Republican primary by Alan Arcand, an Iron River businessman, who claims to be the true Tea Party candidate. There is a strong Democratic candidate in former Kalkaska County Sheriff Jerry Cannon, of Traverse City, who raised more money than Benishek during the first quarter.

In the 3rd District, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township) is yet another incumbent with challenges on two fronts. In the Republican primary, he is opposed by Grand Rapids businessman Brian Ellis, who claims Amash isn’t conservative enough. The Democratic candidate, Bob Goodrich, a Kentwood theater owner, is pushing economic inequality issues.

The five remaining Michigan House races, all in safe districts, look quieter. In the 9th District, Rep. Sander Levin (D-Roseville), brother of Carl Levin, faces Troy businessman George Brikho. Rep. Candice Miller (R-Shelby Township) of the 10th District again will run against Vassar accountant Chuck Stadler, who she easily defeated in 2012.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) of the 5th District has two Republican challengers, Tom Whitmire, a Flushing health consultant, and Allen Hardwick, an Ypsilanti businessman. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) of the 6th District has been challenged in the Republican primary by Jim Bussler, a Dowagiac nurse. The Democratic candidate is Paul Clements, of Kalamazoo, a Western Michigan University political science professor. In the 2nd District, Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) has a Democratic challenger in Dean Vanderstelt, a retired corporate executive from Spring Lake.

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