Incumbents cruise in Michigan Legislature races

By Tim Martin

Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) -- Incumbents had no problems in Michigan's primary elections for the state Legislature.

There aren't too many of them in an election season where the state's term limits law will bring massive turnover to the state Capitol.

All 148 seats for state lawmakers are on the line this year. Only nine of 38 seats in the Senate are held by an incumbent seeking re-election to the same seat, along with 58 of 110 seats in the House.

Only three incumbent senators faced primary challenges Tuesday: Republicans Randy Richardville of Monroe, John Pappageorge of Troy and Roger Kahn of Saginaw. All three won.

All 13 members of the House who faced a primary opponent won.

Winners in the Republican and Democratic primaries face each other in the November general election.

Republicans hold a 22-16 edge in the Senate, while Democrats have a 65-43 advantage in the House with two vacant seats. It's likely party power structure will stay the same, but there will be plenty of newcomers to Lansing's political scene when the new Legislature convenes in 2011.

The state's term limits law restricts senators to two terms of four years and representatives to three terms of two years. The law is the major reason for this year's turnover, but in some cases lawmakers are abandoning their current seats in hopes of gaining a higher office. The large number of open seats prompted more than 650 candidates to get on primary ballots.

In heavily Democratic or Republican districts, the key election is often the primary. The winners in those areas dominated by one political party will be favorites in November.

In other races that don't have an incumbent seeking re-election:

--Former state Rep. Jack Brandenburg won a hotly contested Republican Senate primary race in Macomb County. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Brandenburg had 38 percent of the vote, followed by former state Rep. Leon Drolet with 28 percent and state Rep. Kim Meltzer with 27 percent. The campaign has been nasty, with candidates accusing each other of making unwarranted personal attacks.

--State Rep. Bert Johnson of Highland Park topped nine other Democrats in a Senate primary for a seat representing part of Wayne County. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Johnson had 34 percent of the vote.

--State Rep. Coleman Young II, son of former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, beat four other Democrats in a state Senate primary for part of Detroit. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Young had 41 percent of the vote. Lisa Nuszkowski was second with 29 percent. Former state Rep. Mary Waters was fourth at 10 percent. Waters was under indictment in a federal bribery case at the filing deadline for the race. She later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for not reporting the value of a gift, a Rolex watch, on a tax return.

--Paul Gieleghem, a former state lawmaker who's on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, was leading former Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga in a tight Democratic primary for a Senate seat. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Gieleghem had a lead of 51 percent to 49 percent. The winner faces Republican state Rep. Tory Rocca in November. In 2006, a jury found Marlinga not guilty of federal corruption charges after he was accused of helping a convicted rapist obtain a new trial in exchange for campaign contributions.

Published: Thu, Aug 5, 2010

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