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Top Washtenaw County election stories of 2013 look ahead to 2014

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As 2013 comes to a close, it's time to look back on the top stories from the past year. Based on the number of Facebook shares, five stories stood out, all of which share a common theme, looking ahead to 2014.

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All of them were also about elections for federal or state office, such as Senator, U.S. Representative, Governor, even University of Michigan Regent. No county or municipal candidates or issues broke into the five most liked list for 2013.

Three more tied for sixth. Two of those were also about next year's elections, while one managed to be the most popular article about local elections actually held in 2013. This last got an honorable mention in this year's countdown.

Here are the five most shared stories on Facebook along with an honorable mention.

1. Walberg losing to generic Democrat by nine percent: poll

The most shared story on Facebook with twenty-four likes described a poll commissioned by MoveOn.org and conducted by Public Policy Polling showing that incumbent Republican U.S. Representative Tim Walberg would have lost an election held last October to a generic Democratic challenger by nine percentage points, 51% to 42%, after those polled were told he supported the federal government shutdown. Walberg was unpopular without the shutdown being mentioned, as poll participants expressed their disapproval of Walberg's performance by a thirteen percent margin with 46% disappoving of his performance to 33% approving. Walberg is not facing a generic Democratic challenger. He will likely be facing Democrat and former Michigan State Representative Pam Byrnes, who is campaigning for the Democratic nomination for Walberg's seat.

One of the sixth place articles, Analysts: Walberg's hold on seat loosens after shutdown, elaborated on this story, as two political analysts revised their ratings of next year's contest for Michigan's Seventh Congressional District. Stuart Rothenberg announced in Roll Call that he had moved Walberg's seat from "Safe Republican" to "Republican Favored." Cook Political Report moved the seat from "Likely R" to "Lean R." Both of them thought that Republican incumbent Tim Walberg retaining his seat against Democratic challenger Pam Byrnes was less likely after the just-finished government shutdown.

2. Schauer declares 'he's in' the race for Michigan Governor

The story about former U.S. Representative Mark Schauer declaring that he was running for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2014 by tweeting "I'm in! Today I'm announcing my campaign for governor. I'm ready to run, I'm ready to work & I'm ready to win" was shared eighteen times on Facebook. This followed endorsements from Michigan Board of Education President John Austin, former U.S. Representative Bart Stupak, Michigan State Representative Vicki Barnett, and all the current Democratic members of Michigan's congressional delegation. Schauer is currently the only candidate running for the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Republican Governor Rick Snyder.

Another of the sixth place articles, Schauer caps eventful week with fundraiser in Ypsilanti, reported on a week that began with Stuart Rothenberg of Roll Call and Cook Political Report moving the Michigan Governor's contest from tossup/tilt Republican to pure tossup and ended up with Schauer appearing at a fundraiser in Ypsilanti along with U.S. Representative John Dingell, his wife and Wayne State University Governor Debbie Dingell, State Senator Rebekah Warren, and Saline Mayor Brian Marl. In Roll Call, Rothenberg wrote that Schauer's candidatcy was "rejuvenating Democratic hopes of defeating GOP Gov. Rick Snyder in Michigan next year."

3. Michigan Democrats already campaigning on Labor Day for 2014

With sixteen shares, it's only appropriate that the middle story of the most liked list was all about looking ahead to 2014. Former U.S. Representative Mark Schauer, who is running for Governor, current U.S. Representative Gary Peters, who is running for U.S. Senate, and former State Representative Pam Byrnes, a candidate for the U.S. House, all headlined Labor Day Laborpalooza at Gallup Park. They were joined by U.S. Representative John Dingell, State Senator Rebekah Warren, State Representatives Gretchen Driskell, Jeff Irwin, and David Rutledge, and Wayne State University Governor Debbie Dingell. A few days later, Byrnes will made a whirlwind tour of all seven counties in the Seventh District. Meanwhile, Governor Rick Snyder of Ann Arbor spent Labor Day leading the 56th Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk.

4. U-M Regents: Gratz considers running while Weiser consolidates support

The fourth most shared story of the year was the only one with good news for Republican candidates. Ron Weiser, a resident of Ann Arbor who is currently the Republican National Committee's National Finance Chairman, as well as a former Ambassador to Slovakia and Michigan Republican Party Chair, appears to be in the lead for one of the Republican Party's nomination to the University of Michigan Board of Regents. In October, his campaign reposted a report from Michigan Tea Party News that Weiser was "the only candidate for University of Michigan Regent with a presence" at last month's Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference. Weiser had also secured the support of all eighteen state senators who had voted against Medicaid expansion, as well as former U.S. Representative Allen West and current U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

Jennifer Gratz, who sued the University of Michigan over its use of affirmative action in admissions, a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, was also considering running for a spot on the University of Michigan Board of Regents. Both Gratz and Weiser would be attempting to replace two Democratic incumbents, Julia Donovan Darlow and Katherine E. White, both of whom are attorneys from Ann Arbor. Both women were elected in 2006.

5. Peters endorsed by Stabenow and Levin for U.S. Senate

With seven likes, the fifth most popular story is about U.S. Representative Peters earning the endorsements Senators Carl Levin and Debby Stabenow, as well as Wayne State University Governor Debbie Dingell. Peters is currently the only candidate running for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Carl Levin. He will likely be facing former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who appears to be the only candidate contesting the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

Honorable Mention: Michigan Daily issues endorsements for city council, millage renewal

The most popular story about 2013's local elections, the last of three with six likes, reported the University of Michigan's student newspaper endorsing Jeff Hayner, Kirk Westphal, and Eric Kunselman for City Council and a yes vote on Proposal A, a renewal of millage dedicated to the sinking fund for repairing and constructing buildings in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. Kunselman and Proposal A went on to victory, while Hayner and Westphal lost to Sabra Briere and Jane Lumm, both of whom were endorsed by the Ann Arbor News.

So long, 2013. On to 2014!

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