By Bill O'Brien
TRAVERSE CITY — State Rep. Dan Scripps couldn't hold off a wave of Republican support and trailed challenger Ray Franz in a stark reversal of a state House rematch from 2008.
Scripps, a Democrat and attorney from Leland, lost to Republican challenger Franz of Onekama, who turned around his 20-point loss two years ago in the 101st state House race that includes Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties.
Franz took Leelanau and Mason counties, Scripps narrowly took Manistee County and led in Benzie County.
"I think there's a pretty big swing, both in the state and federal races, to the Republicans," Scripps said. "I think that's part of it."
Scripps held a significant fundraising advantage over Franz, a semi-retired business owner, volunteer fireman and long-time village councilman in Onekama. Scripps raised more than $263,000 and spent close to $157,000, almost three times as much as Franz spent on his campaign.
But Franz, who did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night, went hard after Scripps over his proposals to protect Michigan's groundwater from large-scale withdrawals. Television ads for Franz alleged Scripps proposed taxing Michigan residents' water, and Scripps said he was too slow to counter that and other advertising Scripps said "mischaracterized" his proposals.
"That was not the only mischaracterization ... but when you put a significant amount of money behind it, people start to believe it," Scripps said. "We needed to do a better job of countering them than we did."
Leelanau County residents Peter and Sarah Morio said they voted for Franz. They said his campaign reflected their support for smaller government and a change in Lansing.
"It's more of a party thing than anything," Peter Morio said. "I'm not a tea partier, but I'd like to see reduced government ... less spending."
Other voters said Scripps' record warranted a second term.
"I think he's doing a great job representing our area and our environmental issues," said Katie Horvath, an attorney and Elmwood Township resident.