Tagmichigan

Stories about Michigan

U.S. Rep. Mitchell leaves Republican Party

U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) announced on Dec. 14 that he was leaving the Republican Party and changing his affiliation to independent. Mitchell cited differences with the Republican Party leadership for his departure from the party. As a result of leaving the party, Mitchell’s positions on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Armed Services Committee were revoked.

In a letter to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Mitchell said, “I believe that raw political considerations, not constitutional or voting integrity concerns, motivate many in party leadership to support the “stop the steal” efforts, which is extremely disappointing to me…as a result, I am writing to advise you both that I am withdrawing from my engagement and association with the Republican Party at both the national and state level.”

Mitchell is the second member of Michigan’s congressional delegation to leave the Republican Party during the 117th Congress. U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (L) became an independent in July 2019 and joined the Libertarian Party in April.

Mitchell was first elected to represent Michigan’s 10th Congressional District in 2016. He did not run for re-election in 2020 and will retire from Congress at the end of his term. Republican Lisa McClain will represent the district once she is sworn into office in January.

With Mitchell’s departure from the Republican Party, the current partisan breakdown of the U.S. House of Representatives is 233 Democrats, 195 Republicans, one Libertarian, and one Independent, with five vacancies.

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Meijer defeats Scholten in MI-03 

Peter Meijer (R) defeated Hillary Scholten (D) in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District. Incumbent Justin Amash (L) did not run for re-election. Amash was elected to represent the district as a Republican and changed his affiliation to independent in 2019 and Libertarian in 2020.

Michigan’s 3rd is one of 10 House seats that have changed party hands as a result of the 2020 elections. Republicans have won eight of those seats and Democrats, two. Before the election, Democrats had a 232-197 majority in the chamber.

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Elissa Slotkin wins a second term in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District

Incumbent Elissa Slotkin (D) defeated Paul Junge (R) and Joe Hartman (L) in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District. 

Slotkin was first elected in 2018 after defeating incumbent Mike Bishop (R) 51% to 47%. The 8th District is one of 30 House districts represented by a Democrat in 2020 that Donald Trump (R) won in 2016. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 51% to 44% in the 8th District.

Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) added this district to their target lists ahead of the election.



Fred Upton wins re-election in Michigan’s 6th Congressional District

Incumbent Fred Upton (R) defeated Jon Hoadley (D), John Lawrence (G), and Jeff DePoy (L) in Michigan’s 6th Congressional District. Based on unofficial returns, Upton received 59 percent of the vote and Hoadley received 38 percent. Upton was first elected in 1986. 

In 2018, Upton defeated Matt Longjohn (D) 50.2% to 45.7%. That was Upton’s narrowest general election margin of victory to date; he had previously defeated Democratic challengers by an average of 29 percentage points.

In the 2016 presidential election, President Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 51% to 43% in Michigan’s 6th. The district contains one Pivot County—Van Buren County—that voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Trump in 2016

Heading into the election, Democrats had a 232-197 majority in the House. Republicans needed to win a net 21 seats to win control of the chamber.



Gary Peters wins re-election in Michigan

Sen. Gary Peters (D) defeated John James (R) and three other candidates in the general election for United States Senate in Michigan. Unofficial results showed Peters with 49.7 percent of the vote and James 48.4 percent.

Peters was first elected in 2014, defeating his Republican opponent 55% to 41%. This was the second time James ran for U.S. Senate in Michigan. He challenged incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) in Michigan’s Senate election in 2018 and lost 46% to 52%. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) endorsed Peters and President Donald Trump (R) endorsed James. Three independent outlets rated the race as Lean Democratic as of November 3rd, 2020.

Michigan was one of two Senate seats Democrats were defending in states Trump won in 2016, along with Alabama. Leading up to the 2020 elections, Republicans had a 53-47 majority in the Senate. Thirty-five of 100 U.S. Senate seats were up for election this year. Of the 35 seats up, 23 were held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats, giving Republicans greater partisan risk. Democrats needed to win a net four seats to win an outright majority in the chamber.



Michigan board approves circulation of recall petition against state attorney general

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on October 15 approved the petition language for a recall against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D). The board previously rejected five recall petitions against Nessel in 2020. Supporters of the recall effort need to submit 1,046,006 signatures within a 60-day period to require a recall election. The 60 days begin on the first day that signatures are collected. The recall petition must be submitted to the office of the Michigan Secretary of State no later than 180 days after it was approved by the board.

The recall petition was submitted by Chad Baase on September 25. Michigan laws state that the reason for recall must be deemed factual and clear by the Board of State Canvassers before the recall petition can be placed in circulation. The board does not document a rationale for their determination, only the judgment of rejected or approved.

The recall petition criticizes Nessel over her announced plans of ramping up efforts to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) Executive Order 2020-148. The executive order provided enhanced protections for residents and staff of long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Baase has filed 12 recall petitions against four statewide officials. Five have been approved for circulation, five were rejected in clarity hearings, and two were withdrawn.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, four statewide officials in Michigan have seen recall petitions submitted against them. In total, 31 recall petitions have targeted the four officials. In comparison, Ballotpedia tracked no recall efforts against any Michigan statewide official in 2019.

This year, Whitmer has had 20 recall petitions submitted against her. Nine of those petitions have been approved for circulation, 10 efforts were rejected, and one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner. Two recall petitions have been introduced against Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D). One petition has been approved for circulation, and the other was rejected. Three recall petitions have also been introduced against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D). One effort has been approved for circulation, one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner, and the other was rejected.

Michigan is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Whitmer was elected as Michigan’s governor in 2018 with 53.3% of the vote.

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Nondelegation doctrine resurfaces in challenge to Michigan coronavirus orders

The Michigan Supreme Court on October 2 revived the nondelegation doctrine in an opinion holding in part that Michigan’s Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) unconstitutionally delegates legislative power to the executive branch.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) claimed that the declared states of emergency and disaster in response to the coronavirus pandemic authorized her to issue executive orders instituting coronavirus-related restrictions. Whitmer stated that the EPGA and the Emergency Management Act (EMA) allowed her to extend those emergency declarations without the state legislature’s approval.

Medical groups filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan to challenge an executive order, since rescinded, that placed restrictions on nonessential medical and dental procedures.

The district court asked the Michigan Supreme Court to consider in part whether the EPGA or the EMA violated the nondelegation doctrine.

The majority held that the EMPGA violated the nondelegation doctrine because it delegated lawmaking authority to the executive branch. Justice Stephen Markman wrote in the majority opinion, “[T]he EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government— including its plenary police powers— and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely.”

Justices McCormick, Bernstein, and Cavanagh, and Bernstein disagreed with the majority’s conclusion. The justices claimed that the United States Supreme Court and the Michigan Supreme Court have historically applied the nondelegation doctrine via a “standards” test (i.e. intelligible principle test) that only strikes down delegations of authority without guiding standards for agency discretion. The delegations of authority under the EPGA, the justices argued, contained sufficient guiding standards.

Justice Viviano agreed with the majority’s holding and suggested that the court in future cases adopt the nondelegation doctrine approach put forth by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch in _Gundy v. United States_, which focuses on whether Congress delegated lawmaking power to the executive rather than whether Congress provided a guiding standard.

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Michigan school board recall approved to circulate petitions after earlier rejection this year

A petition seeking to recall Margaret Weertz and Chris Lee from their positions as members of the Grosse Pointe Public Schools Board of Education in Michigan was approved for circulation by the Wayne County Election Commission at a clarity hearing on September 16, 2020. This approval came after an earlier petition against the same two board members had been rejected on June 30 at another clarity hearing.

Both recall petitions were filed by Monica Palmer, a resident of Grosse Pointe Woods. On the new petition, the reasons for recall included the two board members voting in favor of the district’s reconfiguration plan, voting to approve a $2.1 million construction contract for the district’s Rocket Fiber project, and voting in favor of extending Superintendent Gary Niehaus’ contract. The reasons for recall listed on the prior petition had included the same votes. Palmer said, “There’s a handful of people that feel enough is enough. There’s a lot of them in the community feeling like they’re not being heard. They’re not liking the way the administration is taking the school system. That is the Board of Education’s job. They are supposed to be directing the administration.”

In reaction to the new recall effort, Lee said he had no intention of giving up his seat and planned to run in the recall election if it went that far. “There’s a group out there that are doing everything they can to bring down the school system. They get some delight in making trouble. This is not right,” Lee said.

Weertz said, “I never met Mrs. Palmer, and I don’t know what she has against me. It would be common courtesy if she called and told me her grievances. I actually believe this is a well-funded group that wants to undo the democratic process.”

Weertz was elected to the board in 2014 and re-elected in 2018, and Lee was first elected to the board in 2018. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect 7,646 signatures.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Michigan board approves secretary of state recall for circulation

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on September 24 approved the petition language for a recall against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D). Supporters of the recall effort need to submit 1,046,006 signatures within a 60-day period to require a recall election. The 60 days begin on the first day that signatures are collected. The recall petition must be submitted to the office of Michigan’s secretary of state no later than 180 days after it was approved by the board.

The recall petition was submitted by Chad Baase and was approved for circulation by the board by a 4-0 vote. Michigan laws state that the reason for recall must be deemed factual and clear by the Board of State Canvassers before the recall petition can be placed in circulation. The board does not document a rationale for their determination, only the judgment of rejected or approved. The recall petition criticizes Benson over an announcement that her office would be mailing out postcards to Michigan voters that encouraged them to apply online to vote from home in the upcoming November general election.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board also voted on a recall against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D). The recall was submitted by Baase, and the board voted 4-0 to reject the petition language. The recall petition criticized Nessel over plans “to ramp enforcement of Covid-19 related restrictions at long-term care facilities.” According to the board, the recall petition was rejected because the language made it unclear who would be imposing the restrictions on the long-term care facilities.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, four statewide officials in Michigan have seen recall petitions submitted against them to the Board of State Canvassers. In total, 30 recall petitions have targeted the four officials. In comparison, Ballotpedia tracked no recall efforts against any Michigan statewide official in 2019.

This year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has had 20 recall petitions submitted against her. Nine of those petitions have been approved for circulation, 10 efforts were rejected, and one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner. Benson has seen two other recall petitions submitted against her. One recall effort was withdrawn by the petitioner, and the other was rejected by the board. Two recall petitions have also been introduced against Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D). One petition has been approved by the board, and the other was rejected. Nessel saw four other recall petitions submitted against her. All four petitions were rejected by the board.

Michigan is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Whitmer was elected as Michigan’s governor in 2018 with 53.3% of the vote.

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All candidates in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District election complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D), Paul Junge (R), and Joe Hartman (L) are running in the election for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District. Voters can now read Candidate Connection survey responses from all three candidates.

Ballotpedia asks all federal, state, and local candidates to complete a survey so voters can discover what motivates them on political and personal levels.

One question in the survey asks candidates to list three key messages of their campaigns. Here is one response from each candidate.

Slotkin: “I am focused on the issues my constituents ask me about the most: The price of health care and prescription drugs; protecting the water in our lakes and streams and coming out of our taps; creating good jobs and economic opportunity; and bringing some decency and civility to politics.” Read Slotkin’s full survey responses here.

Junge: “Support our families and a strong economy by opposing tax increases, stopping costly liberal regulations, and cutting wasteful spending to move toward a balanced budget.” Read Junge’s full survey responses here.

Hartman: “Decentralization of Political Power.” Read Hartman’s full survey responses here.

Michigan’s 8th Congressional district is one of 30 House Districts represented by a Democrat in 2020 that voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016. Slotkin was first elected in 2018, defeating former Rep. Mike Bishop (R) 51%-47%.

To read more about the 8th District’s general election, click here: Michigan’s 8th Congressional District election, 2020

To read more about Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here: Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection


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