Slotkin’s opponent, the judges and more: The five biggest Livingston County political questions for 2020

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Well, 2020 has finally arrived, and because it’s a Leap Year, we have so much to look forward to. Olympics! Presidential election! An extra day in February!

It’s also shaping up to be an especially fascinating year in Livingston County politics, and that’s what we’re here to discuss. There are a few things we know (Spoiler Alert: President Trump will carry Livingston County), and a whole lot more things we don’t know.

And here, in my opinion, are the Five Biggest Livingston County Political Questions for 2020:

1. Who will be Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s Republican opponent?

I’ll be doing a separate post on this later, but the 8th Congressional District Republican primary is shaping up to be one of the most up-in-the-air political races we’ve ever seen in these parts.

Back in June, I did a post speculating on all the Republicans who might be running against Slotkin, and I was wrong on every single account. Mike Bishop isn’t running. Lana Theis isn’t running. Joe Hune isn’t running. But five candidates ARE running, and I don’t have a clue who the front-runner is.

The five GOP candidates are Mike Detmer, Alan Hoover, Paul Junge, Kristina Lyke and Nikki Snyder, and unless somebody else joins the race, one of those five will be squaring off against Slotkin in the fall.

Usually by this time, we would have a pretty good idea who the front-runner is, but in this case, I have no idea. So this is the biggest political mystery of 2020.

2. Will anyone run against Livingston County’s three new appointed judges?

A strange set of circumstances has delivered three new judges to Livingston County in the last year or so — all of whom were appointed by governors, and all of whom will be on the ballot in 2020 to retain their seats.

District Judge Shauna Murphy was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, while Circuit Judge Matt McGivney and District Judge Daniel Bain were both appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

All three of them need to run to retain their seats, so the question is: Will anyone be running against them? And if so, who?

Given that it’s nearly impossible under the current highly unfair system for any incumbent judge to lose his or her seat in Livingston County, it’s going to be interesting to see who might be willing to give it a try.

3. Will the Democrats put up more than token opposition for the county’s two state representative seats?

Livingston County is a heavily Republican county (duh), so in most years, the Livingston County Democrats have basically just put warm bodies on the ballot. In 2018, though, all that changed.

Mona Shand was the Democratic candidate for the Brighton-area state rep seat, and she was anything but a token candidate. She raised a ton of money, campaigned like hell, and was far and away the most impressive Democratic candidate we’ve ever seen in this county. She still lost by 20 points to Republican Ann Bollin.

Democrat Colleen Turk also ran an impressive race against incumbent Rep. Hank Vaupel in the Howell/Fowlerville/Hartland district, and got trounced even worse.

So, given all that, what will the Democrats do in 2020? A warm body or a well-funded dynamo?

4. Will Genoa Township Clerk Polly Skolarus come clean and run as a Democrat?

Skolarus has been the Genoa Township clerk since 1986, and she’s run as a Republican every time. As it came out in 2016, though, Polly Skolarus is a Republican about as much as I’m an Ohio State fan.

A review of her social media and online history revealed someone who detests Republicans, and even though that was pointed out prior to the 2016 primary, she still rolled to an easy victory over challenger Dan Wholihan.

Skolarus continues to rail against Republicans on social media. So, the question is, if Skolarus decides to run for re-election in 2020, will she go on the ballot as a Republican or Democrat?

5. Will Bob Bezotte coast to victory in the 47th District state rep race?

Bezotte is a former Livingston County sheriff and current Livingston County commissioner, and as of now, he’s the only announced candidate in the 47th District State House race – the Howell/Fowlerville/Hartland seat currently occupied by term-limited Rep. Hank Vaupel.

Bezotte is a Republican — a very conservative Republican — and he’s also one of the most popular politicians this county has ever seen. He’s coasted to victory in every election he’s ever had, so it’s going to be interesting to see if any other Republican has the appetite to run against him.

Mike Detmer had been a candidate for this race, but he decided late last year to run for Congress instead. If nobody does run against Bezotte, it will be one of the only times that any Republican won an open state rep seat without a strong primary challenge.

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About Buddy Moorehouse 218 Articles
Longtime Livingston County journalist Buddy Moorehouse is director of communications at the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

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