Stories about Michigan

Michigan state Rep. Andrea Schroeder dies

Michigan state Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R) died from stomach cancer while serving in office on Oct. 1, 2021. Schroeder was first elected to represent House District 43 in 2018.  She most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Nicole Breadon (D) 59.7% to 40.3%.

When a vacancy occurs in the Michigan State Legislature, the governor must call for a special election to fill the vacancy, which should be held whenever the next general election is scheduled. If the vacancy happens after the statewide primary election, the leaders of the respective party organizations in the district can submit a list of nominees to be voted on by party leadership. The nominee must be voted on no later than 21 days after the vacancy occurred.

Michigan is one of 25 states to fill state legislative vacancies through special elections.

This is the 20th vacancy in 2021 caused by the death of a serving legislator. So far this year, there have been 109 vacancies in 40 state legislatures. Sixty-seven (67) of those vacancies have been filled.

Additional reading:

Campaign finance update: Top fundraisers in Michigan

Campaign finance requirements govern the raising and spending of money for political campaigns. While not the only factor in an election’s outcome, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages, such as the ability to boost name recognition and promote a message. In addition, fundraising can indicate enthusiasm for candidates and parties.

This article lists the top individual fundraisers in Michigan by their party affiliation as well as the top ten fundraisers overall. It is based on campaign finance reports that active Michigan candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State. It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

Top Michigan Fundraisers

The top fundraisers in Michigan elections are shown below. For the purpose of this article, fundraisers may include individuals who are on the ballot this election cycle as well as those not currently running for office but who have received contributions during this reporting period. Individuals are listed with the office that they held at the time of publication, if applicable.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

Fundraising Totals

Overall, the top Michigan Democratic candidate PACs raised $8.47 million in this period. The top Republican candidate PACs raised $990,870. Michigan candidate PACs in the Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, filing period raised a total of $12.36 million. Combined, these Michigan candidates account for 77% of total fundraising.

Contributions to the top five Democratic candidates made up 90% of the total amount reported by their party’s campaigns. Contributions to the top five Republican fundraisers comprised 36% of the total amount reported by Republican campaigns.

The table below provides additional data from the campaign finance reports from the top ten fundraisers. For more information on fundraising and spending for Michigan races on the 2022 ballot, click here.

NameParty AffiliationRaised this periodSpent this period
Gretchen WhitmerDemocratic Party$6,893,245$1,518,563
Dana NesselDemocratic Party$948,129$131,424
Jocelyn BensonDemocratic Party$494,146$59,145
Garrett SoldanoRepublican Party$427,288$218,528
Jason WentworthRepublican Party$178,775$187,849
Aric NesbittRepublican Party$176,408$52,743
Mark HuizengaRepublican Party$104,225$88,762
Ralph RebandtRepublican Party$104,175$102,356
Pamela HornbergerRepublican Party$96,094$95,557
Curt VanderWallRepublican Party$89,800$60,229

Campaign Finance Reporting Periods

The reports filed with the Michigan Secretary of State cover Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs in Michigan must file semiannual financial reports of their fundraising and campaign spending. During election years, candidate PACs also file additional financial reports before primary and general elections.

The next semiannual campaign finance reporting deadline for Michigan legislators and candidates will include activity between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.

Redistricting round-up: U.S. Census Bureau releases 2020 data necessary to begin the redistricting process (and other news)

Today’s redistricting round-up includes news from: 

  1. The U.S. Census Bureau was scheduled to release 2020 census data necessary for redistricting on Aug. 12
  2. Michigan, where an announcement about a potential legal counsel hire has drawn criticism
  3. New Jersey, where a congressional redistricting tiebreaker was chosen and the Secretary of State announced a date for the release of adjusted census data

U.S. Census Bureau releases 2020 data necessary to begin the redistricting process

The U.S. Census Bureau was scheduled to release 2020 census data on August 12, 2021. The data will include county-level demographic information on the ethnic, racial, and age makeup of neighborhoods across the country and will allow states to begin drawing district maps. The Bureau will release a complete tabulated version of the dataset on Sept. 30. In addition to drawing district maps, census data is also used by federal agencies and local governments in allocating funds and other planning and decision-making processes.

Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission announces it may hire Mark Braden and law firm BakerHostetler as legal counsel

On Aug. 6, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission announced it was considering hiring Mark Braden and law firm BakerHostetler as legal counsel. Braden was formerly chief counsel to the Republican National Committee and defended North Carolina Republican legislators in litigation about the redrawing of North Carolina legislative districts in 2017. Critics said hiring the firm would compromise the independence of the committee. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) tweeted “Friendly reminder that Michigan’s Independent Redistricting Commission is just that – independent,” and anti-gerrymandering author David Daley said the firm was “infamous for advising and defending some of the most egregious GOP gerrymanders of the last decade.” Committee spokesperson Edward Woods III said BakerHostetler was the only firm to submit a proposal: “We sent out two requests for litigation counsel. Unfortunately, no one responded the first time, and they are the only firm that responded this time. As always, we welcome and consider public input in making our decisions openly and transparently,” Woods said.

For more information about the current redistricting cycle in Michigan, click here.

New Jersey Supreme Court selects congressional redistricting tiebreaker

On Aug. 6, a majority of the New Jersey Supreme Court voted to select John Wallace, a retired New Jersey Supreme Court justice, to act as a tiebreaker on the congressional redistricting commission. His selection came after the 12 members of the state Congressional Redistricting Commission (six Democrats and six Republicans) did not agree on a 13th member by the July 15, 2021, deadline, meaning the decision went to the seven-member New Jersey Supreme Court. The court had until Aug. 10 to pick a tiebreaker.

New Jersey Secretary of State establishes date for release of adjusted Census data

On Aug. 9, Secretary of State Tahesha Way (D) said that she would release adjusted Census data within seven days of the Census data release on Aug. 12 to all members of the redistricting commissions and the public concurrently. Her announcement came after Republican leaders of New Jersey’s redistricting commissions submitted a request for clarification regarding the data.

On Jan. 21, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed S758 into law, which requires the Secretary of State to use Department of Corrections data to count incarcerated individuals at their last known residential address for the purposes of legislative redistricting, rather than the location of their incarceration at the time of the census. Legislative Apportionment Commission Republican Chairman Al Barlas and Congressional Redistricting Commission GOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt said in their request to Way that the Census Bureau’s use of differential privacy in the 2020 census would produce data inconsistent with DOC data, since “this statistical technique deliberately manipulates census data to assertedly protect the confidentiality of respondents by introducing ‘statistical noise; into both population totals and demographic characteristics.” In Way’s response, she said her office would be “guided by the duties set forth under the law concerning the reallocation of incarcerated individuals whether their previous address is known or unknown.”

For more information about the current redistricting cycle in New Jersey, click here.

Additional reading:

Redistricting in Michigan after the 2020 census

Redistricting in New Jersey after the 2020 census

Duggan and Adams advance from Detroit, Michigan mayoral primary

Incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan and Anthony Adams advanced from Detroit, Michigan’s mayoral primary on Aug. 4, 2021. Duggan received 72.4% of the vote and to Adams’ 10%. Tom Barrow received 6% of the vote followed by Myya Jones with 5%. No other candidate received more than 2%.

Before becoming mayor, Duggan was president and CEO of Detroit Medical Center from 2004 to 2012. He was assistant corporation counsel for Wayne County from 1985 to 1986, deputy Wayne County executive from 1987 to 2000, and Wayne County prosecutor from 2001 to 2003. Duggan was first elected mayor in 2013 when he defeated opponent Benny Napoleon (D) with 55% of the vote to Napoleon’s 45%. In 2017, he was re-elected by a margin of nearly 44 points, defeating Coleman Young II (D) with 71.6% of the vote to Young’s 27.8%. Duggan said that, if re-elected in 2021, he would “work every day to continue to make sure every neighborhood has a future and every Detroiter has a true opportunity to achieve your dreams.”

Adams was an attorney as of the primary and served as deputy mayor of Detroit under former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D). He was also an executive assistant to Mayor Coleman Young, was a board member and general counsel for Detroit Public Schools, and was interim director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Adams said his “extensive leadership experience, unwavering commitment, and enlightened skill-set uniquely position him to move the city of Detroit forward” and that he was “committed to serving the ordinary people of Detroit and not Special Interest Groups.”

Economic development and public safety were major issues in the race. Duggan said he would work with the city council and manufacturers to bring more high-paying jobs into the city. Adams said he would support a universal basic income plan and an income-based water billing system and emphasized early intervention as a means to reduce crime. Barrow also supported a water affordability program for Detroit residents and said neighborhood revitalization projects should focus on a broader area and not just downtown.

The city of Detroit uses a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive.

Additional reading:

Detroit voters reject Proposal P charter revision

Detroit Proposal P, which would have adopted a new city charter for Detroit was defeated by voters on August 3. According to election night results, 67% of voters were opposed to the measure, and 33% were in favor.

The new charter would have made changes to policy regarding broadband access, police practices, healthcare, taxes and utilities, and reparations, among other topics. The revised charter would have been 145 pages long, adding 25 pages to the existing 120-page charter.

Proposal P would have replaced Detroit’s existing city charter, which was approved by voters in 2011 and enacted in 2012. The 2012 charter was the product of its own Charter Revision Commission, which was elected by Detroit voters in 2009. The charter was revised twice before the 2012 version in 1997 and 1974, with the original charter having been enacted in 1918. When Detroit first revised its charter, it set a precedent allowing for the creation of a nine-member commission to investigate and propose any necessary changes to the city charter.

In August of 2018, Detroit voted to revise the 2012 charter by approving Proposal R. Later that year, voters elected a Charter Revision Commission in the November election. The Revision Commission was tasked with preparing a revised charter to put before voters. This charter was on the ballot on August 3 as Proposal P.

Proposed changes to city policy within the charter included the following:

  • developing free public broadband internet;
  • providing reparations to Black residents;
  • changing police practices, policies, and training requirements;
  • giving residents amnesty for water and sewer fees; and
  • granting tax credit for residents who show proof of overassessed property taxes.

Ballotpedia has tracked eight other local ballot measures in 2021 concerning

  • police oversight;
  • the powers and structure of oversight commissions;
  • police and incarceration practices;
  • law enforcement department structure and administration;
  • law enforcement budgets;
  • law enforcement training requirements;
  • law enforcement staffing requirements; and
  • body and dashboard camera footage.

In 2020, Ballotpedia identified 20 police-related measures in 10 cities and four counties within seven states that appeared on local ballots. All 20 were approved.

Additional reading:

Minor party filing deadline to pass on Aug. 4 in special election for two Michigan state Senate seats

The minor-party filing deadline for the Michigan State Senate Districts 8 and 28 special elections is on Aug. 4.

The major party primary is scheduled for Aug. 3, and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 2. 

In District 8, seven Republicans and two Democrats will compete in the Aug. 3 primaries. For District 28, there are two Democrats and three Republicans competing.

The District 8 special election was called after Peter Lucido (R) was elected Macomb County Prosecutor. The District 28 special election was called after Peter MacGregor (R) was elected Kent County Treasurer. 

As of August 2, the Michigan State Senate is composed of 16 Democrats and 20 Republicans. Michigan has had a divided government since 2019. A divided government occurs when different parties control the state senate, state house, and governorship. There are currently 12 states with divided governments.

Additional Reading:

Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 Thursday to keep Detroit Proposal P charter revision on Aug. 3 ballot

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on July 29 that Proposal P—a ballot measure to replace the Detroit City Charter—could stay on the August 3 ballot.

Michigan Supreme Court Justices Welch, Bernstein, McCormack, and Cavanagh voted to overturn the lower courts’ decisions, keeping Proposal P on the ballot. Justices Viviano, Clement, and Zahra dissented. The court ruled that, while the Home Rule Cities Act was unclear about the role that the governor should play in a charter revision ballot question, the Michigan State Constitution gives control over a city’s charter to its voters.

If Proposal P is approved on August 3, it would make changes to multiple sections of Detroit’s City Charter. Some highlighted changes include

  1. allowing for free public broadband internet;
  2. adding new police training programs;
  3. prohibiting certain types of police conduct, such as no-knock warrants, firing tear gas or rubber bullets at protesters, and accepting federal military surplus equipment;
  4. setting up a task force to address reparations for Detroit’s Black residents;
  5. creating a property tax overassessment relief program; and
  6. enacting policy designed to promote affordable access to water for the city’s residents.

The Supreme Court’s decision came after a months-long legal battle over whether Detroit could vote on a charter revision ballot measure without the governor’s approval.

It began last February when the Detroit Charter Revision Commission, which was created by 2018’s Proposal R, completed its draft of the revised charter. The draft was approved by Detroit’s City Clerk in March and then sent to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer according to the Michigan Home Rule Cities Act. Gov. Whitmer declined to approve the revised charter and returned it with feedback. Attorney General Dana Nessel said that Proposal P could remain on the ballot despite the lack of approval from Gov. Whitmer, and the Detroit Elections Commission certified Proposal P in May.

Following Proposal P’s certification, two lawsuits were filed seeking to block the measure from the ballot. The lawsuits argued that the Home Rule Cities Act (HRCA) required Gov. Whitmer’s approval to put Proposal P on the ballot. The defendants argued that the HRCA didn’t explicitly require the governor’s approval for certifying a charter revision ballot measure.

The Wayne County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on May 26. The Detroit Charter Revision Commission filed appeals with the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court. On June 3, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the Wayne County Circuit Court’s decision. These rulings would have struck Proposal P from the August 3 ballot, but the Michigan Supreme Court suspended the Circuit Court’s ruling on June 1 and the Court of Appeals ruling on June 4.

Special primary elections to be held on August 3 in Michigan State Senate Districts 8 and 28

The special primary elections for Michigan State Senate District 8 and 28 are on Aug. 3. The major party candidate filing deadline passed on April 20, and the filing deadline for minor party and independent candidates is Aug. 4. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2.

District 8

In the Democratic primary, John Bill and Martin Genter are competing to advance to the general election. In the Republican primary, Mary Berlingieri, Bill Carver, Kristi Dean, Grant Golasa, Pamela Hornberger, Terence Mekoski, and Douglas Wozniak are competing to advance to the general election.

Andrew Kamal is running as an independent in the general election.

The special election for District 8 was called after Peter Lucido (R) left office after being elected Macomb County Prosecutor on Nov. 3, 2020. The seat has been vacant since Lucido resigned on Dec. 31. Lucido had served since 2019. 

District 28

Keith Courtade and Gidget Groendyk are competing in the Democratic primary to advance to the general election. In the Republican primary, Tommy Brann, Kevin Green, and Mark Huizenga are competing to advance to the general election.

The special election for District 28 was called after Peter MacGregor (R) left office after being elected Kent County Treasurer on Nov. 3, 2020. The seat has been vacant since MacGregor resigned on Dec. 31. MacGregor had served since 2015.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 20-16 majority in the Michigan State Senate. Michigan has a divided government, and no political party holds astate government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. 

As of July 2021, 46 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 18 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Since 2010, Michigan has held 16 state legislative special elections. 

Additional reading:

Initiative to repeal Michigan law granting governor emergency powers heads to state legislature

The Michigan State Legislature approved the indirect initiative that repealed the Emergency Powers of Governor Act. On July 15, 2021, the Michigan State Senate voted 20-15 to approve the initiated measure. Senate Republicans voted to pass the initiated measure, and Senate Democrats voted against the proposal. On July 21, 2021, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 60-48 to approve the initiated measure. House Republicans, along with four House Democrats, supported the proposal. The remaining 48 House Democrats opposed the initiated measure. The governor cannot veto the legislature’s approval of an indirect citizen-initiated measure.

Redistricting review: Michigan Supreme Court declines to extend redistricting deadlines

In this week’s Redistricting Review, we cover news out of Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Michigan: On July 9, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission’s request to extend the constitutional deadlines for adopting new redistricting plans. The constitutional deadlines – presentation to the public by Sept. 17 and adoption by Nov. 1 – remain in effect.

In light of the delayed delivery of detailed redistricting data by the U.S. Census Bureau, the commission argued that it would “not be able to comply with the constitutionally imposed timeline.” Instead, the commission asked the state supreme court to direct the commission to propose plans within 72 days of the receipt of redistricting data and to approve plans within 45 days thereafter.

The state supreme court asked the Office of the Attorney General to assemble two separate teams to make arguments, one team in support of the commission’s request and another opposed. The court heard oral arguments on June 21. Deputy Solicitor General Ann Sherman, speaking in support of the proposed deadline extensions, said “The very maps themselves could be challenged if they are drawn after the November 1 deadline.” Assistant Attorney General Kyla Barranco, speaking in opposition, said, “There isn’t harm in telling the commission at this point, ‘Try your best with the data that you might be able to use and come September 17, maybe we’ll have a different case.'”

In its unsigned July 9 order, the court said that it was “not persuaded that it should grant the requested relief.” Justice Elizabeth Welch wrote a concurrence, in which she said, “The Court’s decision is not a reflection on the merits of the questions briefed or how this Court might resolve a future case raising similar issues. It is indicative only that a majority of this Court believes that the anticipatory relief sought is unwarranted.”

In response to the court’s order, Edward Woods III, the commission’s communications and outreach director, said that the commission would follow its draft timeline, under which the public input period opens on Aug. 30 and closes on Sept. 30 – past the Sept. 17 constitutional deadline. This suggests that further litigation on the matter might occur.

New York: On July 12, the New York Independent Redistricting Commission (NYIRC) announced that public hearings will begin on July 20. A full list of hearing dates can be accessed here. NYIRC also said it would release its first redistricting proposal on Sept. 15.

Pennsylvania: On July 12, redistricting authorities in Pennsylvania launched a redistricting website and announced a schedule for public hearings on congressional redistricting, the first of which will take place on July 22. A full list of hearing dates can be accessed here.

Additional reading:

Redistricting in Michigan after the 2020 census

Redistricting in New York after the 2020 census

Redistricting in Pennsylvania after the 2020 census