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MI-08 In Detail

by: Republican Michigander

Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 20:47:47 PM EST


There's a lot of talk about what would happen if Mike Rogers takes the CIA job and MI-08 opens up. I'll say that at first glance, I don't see it, knowing Mike and his views on foreign policy compared to Obama. However, I can see it Obama wants to try and get another Jack McHugh situation and try and narrow the house majority. MI-08 is safe for Mike Rogers. It is competitive however if it opens up.

I know a little about this district. I'm a lifelong resident of the 8th district and also went to undergrad at Michigan State, also in the 8th district. I'm currently on the 8th District Republican committee as well. This has been my home for nearly 34 years.

The easiest way to describe this district is that it is a battle of the strongholds. Most of the swing areas are no longer in the 8th post redistricting. Shiawassee County is no longer in the district. The new district is strictly Ingham County, Livingston County, and Northern Oakland County. Northern Oakland and Livingston County are (mostly) republican strongholds and Ingham County is (mostly) a democrat stronghold. Here, I'm going to mention for argument's sake that Mike Rogers is offered and takes an executive position. I'll then mention who I think would be possible candidates (or longshots to watch for) and their strengths and weaknesses. Full disclosure. I've known some of these people for over 10 years, consider many of them friends, and have done contract work for Joe Hune and Cindy Denby on various occasions. I am not unbiased.

I have to run precinct numbers to the micro detain to get the 2012 keys down (should be released next year on Sec of State), but I have enough to work with to give everyone here a good rundown.

Republican Michigander :: MI-08 In Detail
Mike Rogers only had one real tough election (and a mild scare in 2006). That was the open spot in 2000. It had parts of Washtenaw and Genesee Counties as well, and Mike won by 88 votes (or 152). There was a partial recount, and his opponent Dianne Byrum backed down. While the Washtenaw County and Genesee County portions of the district are gone, the core is the same. Ingham and Livingston County. North Oakland is a new core to this district.

The presidential numbers are as follows. I don't use PVI. I use straight numbers and vote spreads only.

2000:
Bush 51.54%, Gore 45.88%, Won by 18,344

2004:
Bush 54.23%, Kerry 44.75%, Won by 33,912

2008:
McCain 46.37%, Obama 51.99%, Lost by 21,202

2012:
Romney 51.02%, Obama 47.87%, Won by 11,327

This is not a safe district, either at the top of bottom of the ticket with the exception of Mike Rogers who runs well everywhere in the district. He always wins by more than most in Oakland and Livingston, and he usually makes it close in Ingham County. There are few swing areas in this district. These are mostly base areas on both sides.

Ingham County:
Presidential numbers:
Gore 57.41%, Bush 39.23% - Lost by 21,917
Kerry 57.78%, Bush 41.14% - lost by 22,140
Obama 65.85%, McCain 32.57% - lost by 47,511
Obama 63.41%, Romney 35.56% - lost by 35,538

Ingham County is often the forgotten democrat stronghold of Michigan. It's the fourth most democrat county in the state. It is the home of Debbie Stabenow, who held the congressional district before Mike Rogers. Not all of the county is democrat, but there is a three headed monster there that makes this county so difficult. Lansing (and township), East Lansing, and Meridian Township. Lansing is a mix of college town (LCC, MSU spillover, Cooley Law), government related workers, UAW, and minority. East Lansing is a mix of MSU and government related workers, as is Meridian Township (Okemos and Haslett) where a lot of the professors live.

Outside of those areas, there are competitive swing areas like suburban Mason, Holt (Delhi Township), Leslie, and Williamston. The rest of the area is mostly farmland and rural areas. That area is competitive. To give an idea.

Ingham County (Lansing Area - Delhi Twp, East Lansing, Lansing, Meridian Twp)
2000 - Gore 60.54%, Bush 35.98%, 96995 votes, -23830 vote spread
2002 - Granholm 64.19%,  Posthumus 34.44%, 71895 votes, -21388 vote spread
2004 - Kerry 61.84%, Bush 37.05%, 106197 votes, -26320 vote spread
2006 - Granholm 69.94%, DeVos 28.91%, 82260 votes, -33748 spread
2008 - Obama 69.88%, McCain 28.59%, 114,999 votes, -47487 spread

Ingham County (Rest of the County)
2000 - Bush 52.63%, Gore 44.65%, 23600 votes, 1913 vote spread
2002 - Posthumus 50.07%, Granholm 48.87%, 19282 votes, 231 vote spread
2004 - Bush 57.30%, Kerry 41.74%, 26855 votes, 4178 vote spread
2006 - Granholm 53.84%, DeVos 44.92%, 22825 votes, -2035 vote spread
2008 - Obama 49.18%, McCain 49.10%, 27732 votes, -21 vote spread

Most of the current reps of Ingham County are democrats as you would expect. Gretchen Whitmer is the State Senator for most of the county (Joe Hune has a small part, pre-redistricting for 2014). Whitmer is one of the most likely democrats to make a jump attempt. Most think Attorney General, if not Governor. That was with the assumption Mike Rogers stays where he is. Virg Bernero is the Mayor of Lansing and ran for governor in 2010, losing badly. He lost badly, but remember that Debbie Stabenow lost bad in 1994 for governor (primary) and Lt Gov (General). Other contenders I can see are term limited out reps. Dianne or Barb Byrum (Dianne has long been active in Ingham County politics and lost to the one guy who could beat her in 2000), or to a lesser extent Joan Bauer or Mark Meadows.

North Oakland:
Presidential Numbers:
Bush 59.69%, Gore 37.85% - Won by 24,404
Bush 61.39%, Kerry 37.60% - Won by 31,183
McCain 54.01%, Obama 44.32% - Won by 13,066
Romney 58.25%, Obama 40.31% - Won by 24,051

North Oakland isn't what most think of with Oakland County. I always say that Oakland County is a regional county. The "moderate" Republican area is only part of the county. It's not "social views" that caused Oakland to flip. It's migration. Part of that migration is what makes North Oakland (and Livingston) more and more important to Republicans. Northern Oakland is a mix of suburban, exurban, and even rural areas, some of which are closer to Flint than Detroit.  

The one part of North Oakland that will flip to the dems at times is Holly Township. I think it's influenced a bit by Flint. There are some diminishing returns a bit in Rochester and Rochester Hills. That is due to a mix of a growing East Indian population and Oakland University. It voted for McCain and Romney, but doesn't give 60% margins like the old days.

The Republican bench here is deep. Ruth Johnson is the current Secretary of State. She's from Davisburg in I believe Springfield Twp. Jim Marleau is a state senator that covers most of the area here. He did get some tea party flank for his bill covering exchanges in relation to Obamacare. Other than that, he's fairly conservative. Brad Jacobsen and Tom McMillin are state reps in the district. McMillin once ran against Dale Kildee in the 90's. He's a strong social and fiscal conservative. McMillin knows how to battle, even with elements in his own party. Mike Bishop's also from the district. He is former Senate Majority Leader.

Livingston County:
Presidential Numbers:
Bush 59.69%, Gore 38.14%, won by 15857
Bush 62.79%, Kerry 36.26%, won by 24869
McCain 55.79%, Obama 42.50%, "won" by 13243
Romney 61.25%, Obama 37.96%, won by 22814

Livingston County has for awhile been the third most Republican County in Michigan by percentage behind Ottawa and Missaukee Counties. Sometimes Allegan and Hillsdale will clip up, but not too often anymore. Five areas are competitive within the county (Cities of Brighton and Howell, along with Putnam, Unadilla, and to a lesser extent Hamburg Township), but the rest aren't usually even close in a bad year, let along a good year. Even McCain won Putnam, Unadilla, and Hamburg Townships. Bush won all municipalities twice, as did Romney. McCain narrowly lost the cities of Brighton and Howell due to quitting the state. 08 was a likely worst case scenario here. This is a stronghold, but not as high of a straight ticket area as some would think. There's a lot of right-independents here who go down the ticket and make their decision instead of voting "straight republican" even if that's what the ballot ends up being in the end. People often say that organizing Livingston County is like herding cats. That's true. This is a fiscally conservative, socially conservative, and a very educated semi-rural county. We make up our own minds here.

There are no democrat elected officials here, at least as a partisan office. I do think District Court Judge Theresa Brennan would be a formidable candidate for an open seat as a dem. There's a lot I can say about Judge Brennan, but when it comes to campaigning, she's one of the best I've seen. I don't see her giving up her judgeship, but who knows if her good friend Stabenow gives her a call.

Other than that, the bench here is all Republican. Joe Hune is the state senator which covers the entire county (and part of Ingham). Joe would be a very good candidate for an open special election seat for three reasons. He knows how to campaign and works hard (knocks on 15000 doors). He has a farming background and can get the farm vote. He'll get the conservatives to the polls to vote FOR him. Hune has broken with leadership on some issues, usually taxes. He's more hardline on that issue. Like almost all Livingston County reps, he's solid on social issues as well. Hune won his first primary election by two votes in an upset (6 way race). The weakness some have with Joe is age (32) and bluntness, but many like his sometimes blunt style as he's also one of the best retail candidates around. He won his first race at 22. People like him, and his last primary opponent with the last name of Rogers (not related) lost 75-25 for an open seat. Joe won all precincts in the county except one. The general was more of the same. Blowout city.

Cindy Denby replaced Joe as a state rep and would be a strong candidate as well. Cindy's style is much different than Joe Hune's but she's also a hard worker who knocks doors during campaigns. Two candidates against Cindy spent over $30K, but the results didn't show it. People underestimate Cindy because she's softspoken, but they find out the hard way election time because Cindy will outwork the other candidate. Cindy also was heavily involved in Joe Hune's first campaign and both of them support each other. If Cindy wins, she won't be unseated since the constituent service area will be taken care of. That's her biggest strength. There aren't many better than Cindy when it comes to small town politics. Joe Hune learned from Cindy.

Bill Rogers (my state rep) won an open state rep seat in 2008. He's Mike's older brother, but has a resume of his own that he can run on. He was a county commission before that for at least 10 years, and is a small business owner. The Rogers family builders business is well known, but Bill was the one often at the office keeping the books. Bill's style is much different than Mike's, and he's capable in his own right. His opponents will play the nepotism card, but it's not really applicable here. Bill's his own guy, as anyone who knows him can tell you. His major strength is with the business community.

When it comes to social issues, there's no real right flank issues with any of the three reps in Livingston County. All of them are pro-life. All of them voted correctly on 2nd Amendment issues. The right flank is key in these parts due to being just north of Ann Arbor, and people have taken major flak here in the past.

The county commission here is 9-0, as are the countywide positions. I don't expect any of them to make a run directly to congress, although they are keeping an eye on the state rep openings.  

Overall, I think the best candidate here is Mike Rogers again. If Mike isn't offered or doesn't take the CIA or another gig, this district is almost safe for him. People like Mike. He won't give up the Intelligence Committee position easily, so I'm not sure he'll take the spot if offered.

If not Mike, I think Joe Hune's the best candidate for a special election because he will get people to vote FOR him. The farmers will back him. Conservatives will go to the polls for him. He'll knock on doors and do the work necessary to win. Cindy and Bill wouldn't be bad either.  This is a base stronghold district. If the conservatives area and base constituencies turn out, we win. If they don't and Ingham County turns out, we lose. That's the story of this district.  

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MI-08 In Detail | 7 comments
I'll choose State Rep. Bill Rogers
Sometimes, people tend to vote for the one with the most name recognition. Bill, having "Rogers" as his last name and also a popular congressman brother,  will make him the most recognizable candidate.  

Nice writeup
Good info to have about Denby and Hune; I hadn't known too much about them since I'm still fairly new here. It would be interesting to see who might step up if Rogers should take the job.

I'm concerned that McMillin would run and have a good shot in a crowded primary. He's made noises about moving up recently and I find him to be exactly the kind of Republican who could and would lose the seat in the general. Socially conservative to a fault and he has an odd Paulite streak. Don't get me wrong, I love having him chair the Education Committee in Lansing, but I'd rather he stay there.

Hune and Denby both sound good, although to be honest, I didn't see any of the campaigning that you talked about this year (to be fair, I live in an apartment complex where I expect that most are only temporary residents and not target voters). My girlfriend actually got a mailing from Denby's joke of an opponent. I'd have liked to see a stronger campaign presence in Howell and Brighton, where I mainly saw signs and events for county candidates. Hopefully they'd kick it up a notch for a Congressional race.


Interesting info
although I highly, highly doubt that Rogers gets picked.  One request though.  Despite this being a Republican site, I think it's kind of petty to consistently capitalize the word Republican but never Democrat.  I guess I can see one time you didn't capitalize the word Republican, so it could be an accident, but it seems unlikely.  Either way, good writeup.

Age 21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (college)
politicohen.com.
Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal but not progressive.  For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.

Berkeley Class of 2015.


Honestly, didn't even think about it
Wasn't intentional. Oftentimes, I use GOP and dems to save typing. If I meant to be petty (which I admit to at times), I'd be more obvious about it than capitalization.  

MI-08 - Chairman - Livingston County Republican Party Since 2013 - Opinions are my own and not that of LCRP.  

[ Parent ]
ok, thanks for clarifying :)


Age 21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (college)
politicohen.com.
Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal but not progressive.  For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.

Berkeley Class of 2015.


[ Parent ]
Awesome writeup


26, Male, R, NY-10

Great diary
This is what we really enjoy seeing on this site. We'll definitely promote this if MI-08 does open up.

MI-08 In Detail | 7 comments
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