With just a couple weeks left before the election (thank GOD), here are the questions you’ve been asking and the answers you’ve been seeking when it comes to Livingston County politics.
First question, please!
What’s your overall feeling on how exciting this election is?
On a state and national level, this is probably the most nerve-wracking and compelling election we’ve ever seen. But in Livingston County, this is probably the most boring election we’ve ever seen.
Because there’s almost no suspense in terms of the local elections. Because we’re a Republican-heavy county, most of our drama usually comes in August, during the primary, but in past years, we’ve at least seen some intrigue in the general election.
Over the past few cycles, we’ve had some fascinating judicial races that came down to the wire in November. Two years ago, the Democrats put up the most impressive slate of candidates they’ve ever had, so a lot of people were thinking this might finally be the year the Democrats win something. They ended up getting slaughtered across the board.
But this year? Nothing. No judicial races. The Democrats have local candidates up and down the board, but they aren’t putting up anything close to the fight they put up in 2018.
There’s maybe one county commission race that could be interesting (District 8, Hamburg Township), but aside from that, the Republicans are going to sweep to victory across the board.
But wait. We keep hearing that the Democrats are making inroads in Livingston County. You don’t think we’re trending blue here?
No. Not even a little. If you look at the election results from 2018 compared to 2008, you’ll see that we’re actually becoming more Republican.
There might be some pockets in Livingston County that are getting a little less red – precincts in the City of Brighton, City of Howell, Hamburg Township and Green Oak Township – but on the whole, this is still a very, very, very Republican county.
Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 30 points in 2016. Even Gretchen Whitmer lost by 17 points in 2018, and that was a Democratic “wave” year.
So Joe Biden has no chance of beating Donald Trump in Livingston County?
And Gary Peters has no chance of beating John James in Livingston County?
Less than none.
What about Elissa Slotkin and Paul Junge in the 8th Congressional District?
Ah! Now you have a question!
Wait, you think Slotkin – the Democratic incumbent – actually has a shot of beating Republican Junge in Livingston County?
Well, I’ll say this: It’s the only semi-compelling local election we’ll be looking at. I think that Slotkin is going to win the overall race pretty easily, but it’s going to be interesting to see how she does in Livingston County.
Why do you say that? She might actually win here?
Well, here’s the situation. Elissa Slotkin is by far the strongest candidate the Democrats have ever fielded in the 8th Congressional District – much stronger than even Debbie Stabenow was when she was our Congresswoman for four years in the late 1990s.
She’s raised a gazillion dollars, she’s concentrated on a lot of bipartisan issues (although her impeachment vote won’t help her at all), and most importantly, she’s been all over Livingston County from day one. Even if you hate her politics, you can’t deny that she’s worked very hard to make connections here.
She showed up at a town hall in Hartland just a week after the impeachment vote. Even though the crowd was mostly brutal, you have to give her credit for showing up.
Slotkin didn’t just write off Livingston County, like most Democrats have in the past. And that’s going to help her.
And what about the Republican?
Well, on the other side, you have Paul Junge, who is by far the weakest candidate the Republicans have ever fielded in the 8th Congressional District. And by that, I don’t mean he’s weak on the issues or because of how hard he’s working. He’s a solid conservative, very appealing, and from what I can tell, he’s working his tail off.
What makes him weak, though, is simply the fact that he’s not from here. He only moved to Brighton last year and doesn’t have the passionate well of support that other candidates have enjoyed.
I mean, look at the Republicans we’ve had in the 8th Congressional District over the past 30 years. Dick Chrysler, born and bred, a local icon. Mike Rogers, born and bred, the most popular Livingston County politician ever. Mike Bishop, not born and bred here, but in Rochester, where he knew every single person.
It’s no fault of his own, but Paul Junge just can’t measure up to that.
When you add it all together, you have the strongest Democrat ever facing off against the weakest Republican ever.
OK, then. Moment of truth. Is Elissa Slotkin going to carry Livingston County?
That was fast.
Well, she lost by 19 points and almost 20,000 votes in Livingston County two years ago, in a blue wave year. She’s probably going to make up a lot of that ground, but not enough to win.
And what if she does?
The local Democrats will be dancing in the streets. I don’t believe a Democratic congressional candidate has ever carried Livingston County – and least not in our lifetimes – so it will be a truly historical moment if it happens now. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it will at least give us something local to watch.