Some thoughts on Tuesday’s election

1. Mike Bishop has no one to blame but himself for losing a Congressional seat held by Republicans for the last 18 years. From the start, his campaign was uninspiring and limp. At the end, it turned into the campaign of a desperate candidate, tossing out a cherry-picked and inaccurate campaign speech video.

What was missing? A single reason to actually vote for Bishop. Indeed, his biggest argument for his re-election was that he wasn’t Nancy Pelosi. Pretty weak, and voters punished him for it.

At the same time, Democrats finally proved that it was their own stupor, rather than gerrymandering, which kept the district red for nearly 20 years despite the fact that the largest county in the district, Ingham, is a Democratic stronghold.

Since Mike Rogers eked out an epic win in 2000, the Dems have put up a string of lackluster and under-funded candidates. That changed this year. Instead of complaining, they actually competed. And won.

Surely, the Republicans will lick their wounds and come out fighting in 2020. But I’m most interested in seeing what the district will look like in 2022, after the so-called gerrymander-proof commission gets its first shot at drawing district lines.

2. Livingston County Democrats must be crushed, just crushed, by Tuesday’s results. Despite the so-called Blue Wave, despite the best candidates and best campaigns I’ve ever seen by local Democrats, the results were just as one-sided as they have ever been.

Democratic candidates struggled and almost universally failed to attract even 40 percent of the countywide vote. That was true with strong ticket-leaders such as Gretchen Whitmer (39 percent) and Debbie Stabenow (38 percent). That was true with Elissa Slotkin who won a U.S. House seat despite being trounced in Livingston County (37 percent). And it was true with the plucky but inevitably doomed campaigns of state rep candidates Mona Shand (38 percent) and Colleen Turk (31 percent). The only Democrat to reach 40 percent, and then just barely, was Hamburg county commissioner hopeful Kristina Drake.

When I was still writing columns for the Livingston Daily, the county Democratic leadership accused me of trying to suppress the vote when I merely rehashed the facts that Democrats can’t win in Livingston County. There was surely no voter suppression Tuesday as nearly 100,000 county residents cast their ballots. And the Democrats still got slammed. I have no idea what they can do about that.

3. The race for the new circuit court judgeship in Livingston County was as close as expected with District Judge Suzanne Geddis narrowly beating Dennis Brewer. What’s telling about this election is that 22,000 voters — about one in five who cast ballots Tuesday — skipped the judge race, a significant number in an election that was decided by about 1,600 votes.

Former Circuit Judge Dan Burress (and king of election statistics) tuned me into this a long time ago: A huge number of voters don’t bother with the non-partisan races. No one knows how those 22,000 would have voted, but surely their failure to cast a ballot in that race must be causing some “what if” moments in the Brewer camp.

4. The relatively large margins for all three statewide ballot proposals are a stark message to Lansing politicians who have either shirked or exploited their jobs. The so-called anti-gerrymandering proposal has a multitude of flaws, but voters supported it enthusiastically because it was clear that politicians — most recently Republicans — were making a mockery of the redistricting process. Reporting by Bridge, an in-depth online publication, particularly showed the cynical nature of Republicans drawing up district boundaries in order to protect party incumbents and guarantee the largest number of safe GOP districts.

Similarly, the mood across the state regarding marijuana was been clear on two counts: Let residents take advantage of the medical benefits of cannabis, and quit locking up people — and diverting tens of millions of tax dollars — on non-violent crimes. Lansing wouldn’t do anything. So voters, for better or worse, took matters into their own hands.

Speaking of marijuana, 54 percent of voters in Livingston County voted in favor of legalizing the drug for recreational purposes. That’s conservative, red-rock, Livingston County. Who knew?


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