Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

June 22, 2014

George Weeks: Northern primaries get downstate attention

It’s a good bet that Republicans, thanks in part to their northern strength, will retain control of the Michigan Legislature. But some lively primaries loom before the Nov. 4 general election.

One of the competitive GOP primaries is for the eight-county 37th Senate seat that includes five counties below the bridge and three in the eastern UP. Two-term Rep. Greg MacMaster of Kewadin is giving up his 105th House seat to run for the Senate. He is opposed by term-limited 104th Rep. Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City.

Among developments last week in that race, Schmidt was endorsed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. A poll released by the conservative Core Principles organization said MacMaster has a “strong lead.”

Last week, Inside Michigan Politics newsletter, which has a credible record of assessing legislative races, looked at House contests in districts now represented by Schmidt and MacMaster.

IMP said that in Schmidt’s district—rated as 59.2% Republican—“Eight Republicans are rumbling to succeed him, and at least half have a shot to win the nomination. You would think Larry C. Inman of Williamsburg would be the heavy favorite, but he’s not working very hard. So keep an eye of Isaiah Wunsch, a prominent cherry and apple farmer on Old Mission Peninsula, and Jamie Callahan of Traverse City, a former legislative staffer who seems to know what it takes to win.”

In the 105th, which is rated 59.5% Republican, IMP said, “MacMaster has endorsed one of the men whom he edged out four years for the state House…farmer Tristan Cole of Mancelona…but don’t rule out Tony Cutler, the deputy mayor of East Jordan.”

The newsletter did not include evaluations of other northern House races, but some of these races were cited last week by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s political action committee (PAC), known for its ability to spur campaign funding.

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