Kilpatrick sent to early retirement

By Mike Householder

Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) -- When U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick squeaked out a Democratic primary victory two years ago, it was in large part because her opponents split the vote.

That didn't happen this time.

The mother of imprisoned ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was defeated in this year's primary, ending her congressional run at seven terms.

In 2008, she told a throng of cheering supporters that she would "be your congresswoman ... until I decide to retire."

On Tuesday, voters went ahead and retired Kilpatrick.

She conceded the race to state Sen. Hansen Clarke of Detroit, who had 47 percent of the vote to Kilpatrick's 41 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Four other challengers were far behind.

"I'm here tonight conceding. We did not win the election," Kilpatrick told a smaller and more subdued group of supporters at a Detroit hotel early Wednesday. "I will continue to serve and represent, and I wish Mr. Clarke the best."

Kilpatrick and 11 of Michigan's 15 congressional incumbents were in Tuesday's primary, though only three others faced opposition. Each of those -- Democratic Reps. Dale Kildee of Flint and Sander Levin of Royal Oak and Republican Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph -- won their races.

Three of Michigan's seats were open. U.S. Reps. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, and Vernon Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, are retiring. Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland is giving up his 2nd District seat in favor of a run for governor, although he was defeated by Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder in that primary.

First elected in 1996, Carolyn Kilpatrick had easily won re-elections before her son's transgressions. She tried this time around to sell voters on her standing as a House Appropriations Committee member and provider for her struggling district.

During the race, Kilpatrick expressed concern for her son, but said his travails were a separate issue from her primary fight. Kwame Kilpatrick resigned as Detroit mayor in 2008 after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and is now in prison for probation violations and facing federal fraud and tax charges.

"It seems like it's time to cut bait," said Nathaniel Phillips, a former Carolyn Kilpatrick supporter who voted Tuesday for Clarke at King High School in Detroit. Phillips, who works in finance, said the congresswoman's legacy has been tainted by her son's compounded legal woes and embarrassing indiscretions as Detroit's mayor.

"It's just an ugly era for politics," he said. "If we can, as a region, move past this era, I think we'll be in a stronger position."

Businessman John Hauler of Grosse Pointe Woods ran unopposed in the Republican primary, but Clarke is expected to easily win in November. Democrats Barack Obama and John Kerry both earned better than 80 percent of the vote in the district during the last two presidential elections.

"We had a powerful opponent, but it wasn't a politician and it wasn't a family. It's been the entire political system and culture of metro Detroit for decades, which have failed our people," Clarke said. "For decades, people have run for office in this city to serve themselves, their family members and their friends, and not the people who pay the taxes. That has come to an end."

The absences of Hoekstra and Ehlers on the ballot after 18 years led to crowded GOP fields in their conservative western Michigan districts.

-- State Rep. Justin Amash, 30, of Kent County's Cascade Township won the Republican primary in Ehlers' district, the 3rd. The first-term lawmaker easily beat former Kent County Commissioner Steve Heacock and three others. Amash will go up against Grand Rapids attorney Pat Miles in the general election in the Republican-leaning district.

-- In the 2nd District Republican primary, only 660 votes separated the top two finishers, and former state Rep. Bill Huizenga of Zeeland declared himself the winner. With 100 percent of precincts in, the 41-year-old co-owner of Huizenga Gravel Co. had 25.4 percent of the vote and ex-NFL player Jay Riemersma of Holland had 24.8 percent. Five others were in the race. Riemersma spokesman Chris Marlink said Wednesday no decision had been made on whether to seek a re-count, but that there may have been "voting irregularities." The Republican nominee will face Hope College history professor Fred Johnson of Holland in the general election in the GOP-leaning district.

-- In southern Michigan's 7th District, former U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg of Tipton won the Republican primary to set up a November rematch with the man who ousted him from Congress two years ago. Walberg will face Democrat Mark Schauer of Battle Creek, who beat the first-term Walberg by about 7,500 votes in 2008. Republicans have been eyeing Schauer ever since in the district that covers an area stretching from Eaton County just west of Lansing south through Battle Creek, Jackson, Hillsdale and Adrian.

-- In the 9th District, businessman and Army Reserve officer Rocky Raczkowski of Farmington Hills won the GOP primary, beating three others in the suburban Detroit district. He'll face first-term Democratic Rep. Gary Peters of Oakland County's Bloomfield Township in November.

-- The GOP race was very close in the 1st District. With all 508 precincts counted early Wednesday, Crystal Falls physician Dan Benishek had a 12-vote lead over state Sen. Jason Allen of Alanson. State Rep. Gary McDowell of Rudyard was the lone Democrat in the race to succeed Stupak.

-- An out-of-work educator from East Lansing fell far short in his quest to win a write-in campaign for Congress in the 8th District Democratic primary. Lance Enderle entered the race after Kande Ngalamulume dropped out in June. The problem is Ngalamulume exited the race after the deadline, meaning his name still appeared on the primary ballot. Enderle lost handily and blamed the lopsided defeat on the media misinforming the public. Ngalamulume said he was "80 percent leaning" toward getting back into the race and would make a decision on Wednesday. U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Howell ran unopposed on the Republican side.

-- In the 15th District, cardiologist Rob Steele of Washtenaw County's Superior Township won the Republican congressional primary and moved on to face veteran Democratic U.S. Rep. John Dingell of Dearborn in the general election.

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Associated Press Writer Corey Williams contributed to this report.

Published: Thu, Aug 5, 2010

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