BY GLENN PUIT
SUTTONS BAY —
Voters in Benzie and Leelanau counties played a critical role in reelecting conservative Republican Ray Franz to the Michigan House of Representatives, vote tallies show.
Franz beat his Democratic opponent, Allen O'Shea, by a margin of 1,030 votes in the four-county district of Benzie, Leelanau, Mason and Manistee counties. Franz outpaced O'Shea by 572 votes in Leelanau County, and in Benzie County, where the race was considered a toss up, Franz won by 300 votes.
Franz said his success in Leelanau and Benzie was critical in securing the win. The voting pattern mimicked his path to victory over Democrat Dan Scripps in 2010. Franz said his straightforward message of cutting regulations and government spending clearly took hold.
"We won the bookends — Leelanau and Mason counties, and we edged it out in Benzie," Franz said. "When you are straightforward and honest with people — even some who maybe weren't 100 percent agreeing with my philosophy, they recognize that."
However, Franz called his victory "bittersweet" because he was frustrated by the reelection of President Barack Obama.
"Bittersweet because the top of the ticket was very important to us and dictates which direction the country is going in," said Franz, who wants to help reform Michigan's personal property tax structure during his second term.
O'Shea, meanwhile, expressed disappointment over his loss. He beat Franz only in Manistee County, where both candidates live.
O'Shea ran on a platform of protecting the environment, restoring education funding and protecting the middle class. He expected those issues to resonate better with voters in Leelanau and Benzie counties.
"I just thought that with my message of helping middle class voters get a leg up, along with the environment, we would have been a lot closer," O'Shea said.
A longtime Manistee County commissioner and a fixture in Manistee County political circles, O'Shea said that age 70, he won't be running for office again.
"I'm turning a page," he said. "At my age, I want to enjoy myself."