A big year in Livingston County politics: Here are the top 10 primary races

Tuesday was campaign filing deadline day across Michigan, as candidates for township, county, state and federal offices had to get their names in.

Candidates for the 8th Congressional District got a last-minute reprieve from a judge who ruled that because they have to collect signatures, they now have until May 8 to file. But aside from that race, the primary field in Livingston County is now set.

The day brought a few surprises, but most candidates had filed long before Tuesday.

There are bunch of juicy primary races coming up in August, and not surprisingly, every single one of them is on the Republican side. There will be zero Democratic primaries in heavily Republican Livingston County. All the Dems currently on the ballot will sail through to November.

On the GOP side, though, as I said, we have some big-time battles. This is, in fact, shaping up to be one of the juiciest political years we’ve seen in a long time.

And as I see it, these are the Top 10 2020 Primary Races in Livingston County. We’ve got some good ones:

1. Livingston County Prosecutor

This is a true battle of political heavyweights. Incumbent William Valliencourt is being challenged by former Circuit Court Judge and Livingston County Commissioner David Reader, one of the best-known political figures in the county. Incumbents are really, really hard to beat in Livingston County, but you can bet that Reader will spend a whole bunch of money trying to do just that. In a banner year, this is the main attraction.

2. 47th District State House

This is the Howell-Fowlerville-Hartland seat currently held by State Rep. Hank Vaupel, R-Fowlerville, who is term-limited and can’t run again. The Republican primary was already looking to be pretty interesting, but on Tuesday, it became VERY interesting.

There are four candidates on the GOP side, but this is mainly a two-person race between Livingston County Commissioner and former Sheriff Bob Bezotte and Livingston County GOP chair Meghan Reckling (who filed at the last minute). Bezotte has never lost an election, but Reckling is by far the brightest young star on the GOP bench, and has the full-throated support of State Sen. Lana Theis.

This. Will. Be. Big.

3. Genoa Township Clerk

The only reason this race is so interesting is because one of the Republican candidates isn’t really a Republican. Longtime incumbent Clerk Polly Skolarus – who is about as Republican as Nancy Pelosi – is being challenged by Rita Croft.

Skolarus, who regularly rails against all things Republican on social media, knows that a Democrat would never win in Livingston County, so she always runs as a Republican. And she always wins.

The question here is whether Republican primary voters will finally realize that she’s not a Republican.

4. 8th Congressional District

This is the race that will capture most of the headlines and drama, thanks to the train-wreck candidacy of Mike Detmer. But whoever wins in August will likely get crushed by incumbent U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly.

Five candidates announced for the GOP nod, but only four have gotten their petitions in thus far – Detmer, Paul Junge, Kristina Lyke and Alan Hoover. The fifth candidate, Nikki Snyder, now has until May 8 to meet the deadline. Junge is the only one who’s raised any money (most of it his own), so he’s likely the favorite. But this one will certainly be entertaining.

5. County Commission, 5th District

The resignation earlier this year of incumbent Donald Parker led to several candidates filing for this Howell-area seat, and there will actually be TWO primaries – one to fill his seat temporarily, and one to fill it for two years. The same three Republicans filed for both elections – Lee Ann Blazejewski, Jay Drick and Mike Randall. Expect a lot of money to be spent in this one.

6. County Commission, 2nd District

This district covers Deerfield and Oceola townships, and we’ve got a VERY interesting situation here. James Bruney, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018, is back on the ballot in 2020, and his GOP opponent will be former Livingston County District Court Judge Carol Sue Reader, who was forced to retire four years ago because of her age (judges can’t run after the age of 70). She said she has more to contribute to the county, so she wants on the commission. Bruney is an active, aggressive campaigner, so this one should be interesting.

7. Genoa Township Trustee

Five Republican candidates have filed for four trustee seats here – all four incumbents along with newcomer Dewey Thomas. Thanks to that, voters now have a chance to boot Jean Ledford off the board.

You’ll remember that back in 2015, the Genoa Township Board voted 4-3 to deny Livingston Christian Schools a chance to locate at the Brighton Nazarene Church – one of the worst decisions ever by an elective body in Livingston County.

Of the four people who voted for that awful decision, Ledford is the only one who remains on the board. Gary McCririe retired in 2016 rather than face the music, while Linda Rowell and Todd Smith were booted off the board by the voters.

It’s been five years, so we’ll have to see if Genoa’s voters remember what Jean Ledford did back in 2015. I’ll be here to remind them – a lot.

8. Iosco Township Clerk

In my home township, longtime Clerk Dan Delmerico is facing a challenge from Julie Dailey. I don’t know Dailey, but I know Delmerico, and he’s one of the hardest-working local-level campaigners I’ve ever seen. He won’t be giving up his seat without a fight, so this one could be interesting.

9. Brighton Township Trustee

Brighton Township politics has always been fascinating – and at times, downright dirty. I have no idea what direction it’ll go this year, but with six GOP candidates seeking four spots, it’s certainly going to be interesting. Three incumbents – Steve Combs, Sam Theis and Lucille Weaire – are facing three challengers – Cathy Doughty, Daniel Schifko and Jeff Stinedurf.

10. Conway Township Supervisor

I don’t pretend to know the first thing about Conway Township politics, but I found it interesting that incumbent Supervisor Michael Rife has two Republican challengers – Bill Grubb and Richard Kastner.

Bill Grubb is the husband of current Treasurer Debbie Grubb, so it’s interesting that the treasurer’s husband is running against the incumbent supervisor. This one will be worth watching.

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