Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

April 29, 2014

Packed race could mix it up for 104th

TRAVERSE CITY — Jamie Callahan worked in Lansing for elected officials before.

Now he wants to be one.

Callahan is one of eight Republicans running for Michigan’s 104th House seat, meaning he’s trying to distinguish himself from the pack.

For Callahan, it’s his government experience.

“I know the ins and outs of legislature and legislative process,” Callahan said. “A lot of relationships have been built which lets me...hit the ground running day one and not worry about the learning curve of the legislature.”

More Republicans are running for the Grand Traverse County seat than anywhere else in the state. Experts say the big numbers could mix things up in the 104th, which is generally considered a Republican seat.

“That’s a whopping number, one of the biggest in years,” said Bill Ballenger, the founder of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics. “All you have to do is get one more vote than whoever finishes second. A very small plurality can win.”

The large field could give an advantage to people who would otherwise be considered fringe candidates, Ballenger said.

“Let’s say one of the candidates out of the eight has a particularly strong core of followers, maybe it’s a Tea Party candidate, and those people really feel strongly about that candidate, and the rest of the electorate would not find this candidate appealing and they split up all the other votes among seven other candidates,” Ballenger said. “That candidate might not necessarily be the strongest Republican nominee for the general election three months later, but the Republicans would be stuck with him and the Democrats could pull an upset.”

The Grand Traverse County Republican Party has not endorsed any of the candidates. Bill Mouser, a member of the Party’s executive committee, said he worries there might be too many candidates to choose from.

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