Traverse City Record-Eagle

Election 2010

November 2, 2010

State's balance of power at stake

LANSING — Michigan voters elected a new state Legislature on Tuesday as the state's term limits law forced a number of incumbents out of office.

Based on early returns, Republicans appeared to be maintaining control of the state Senate. Republicans also were in position to make gains in the state House, although it was not yet clear if they would be able to wrestle control away from Democrats, who have held the majority in the chamber since 2007.

In all, 148 races were on the ballot across the state.

In what was shaping up to be a strong Republican year in many states, including Michigan, Democrats tried to hang on to the House with a late fundraising and campaign push in key toss-up districts. More than half a dozen Democratic House incumbents were in close battles as returns were being counted Tuesday night.

Republicans campaigned against Democrats on both national and state issues, tying the candidates to President Barack Obama and outgoing Gov. Jennifer Granholm - both of whom have lost popularity in Michigan in recent months.

Term limits will cause plenty of turnover in the Legislature. State law restricts senators to two terms of four years each and House members to three terms of two years each.

Only nine incumbents were running for re-election in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 22-16 edge over Democrats. The GOP has held the majority in the Senate since 1984.

Democrats entered the election with a 64-42 edge in the House, with four vacant seats. Fifty-eight incumbents were seeking re-election, including 35 Democrats and 23 Republicans.

Incumbents rarely lose, but it happens. Two House Republicans were knocked off when Democrats grabbed control of the chamber with a strong showing in the 2006 election. In 2008, a Democratic House incumbent lost in a primary but no incumbents were beaten in the general election.

If Republicans win control of the House, it would be the largest single-election swing in the chamber since 1966.

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