AP News Guide: Governor, Senate races top Michigan primary

August 6, 2018
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Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer talks during a campaign event in Southfield, Mich., Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Key nominations are at stake for governor, U.S. Senate and other offices in Michigan’s primary on Tuesday.

Voters will choose would-be successors to second-term Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who cannot run again due to term limits, and a Republican nominee to face third-term Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. The primary also is when the next congressman or congresswoman will effectively be chosen in two solidly Democratic U.S. House seats opening due to retirements.

A look at the top races:



Former legislative leader and establishment favorite Gretchen Whitmer is facing two political newcomers for the Democratic nomination — former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed and chemical-testing businessman Shri Thanedar. Thanedar has self-funded his campaign with at least $10 million, while El-Sayed has support in the party’s left wing. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders rallied for El-Sayed on Sunday. Whitmer, meanwhile, is being aided by major labor unions such as the United Auto Workers and Michigan Education Association.

In the Republican contest , Attorney General Bill Schuette — a longtime veteran of state politics who secured an endorsement from President Donald Trump early — is going against Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, conservative state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines, an obstetrician-gynecologist who has never held elective office. Calley has the backing of Snyder. The business community has split its support between Calley and Schuette.



Two Detroit-area businessmen who have never held elective office, John James and Sandy Pensler, are vying to square off against Stabenow . James is highlighting his recent endorsement from Trump along with his business credentials and military service. The African-American West Point graduate flew Apache helicopters in combat and led two platoons during the Iraq War. The Ivy League-educated Pensler is emphasizing his experience in the business world, where he advised large corporations on restructuring and later founded a buyout firm that owns and operates The Korex Cos., which manufactures detergents and cleaners at factories in Michigan, Illinois and Canada.



Residents in the 13th Congressional District have gone without representation since December, when John Conyers resigned amid sexual harassment allegations — sparking a big field to succeed him in the state’s most Democratic House seat, which includes most of Detroit and other parts of Wayne County. Top Democrats running include former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Detroit Councilwoman Brenda Jones and Westland Mayor Bill Wild. Also in the mix are Conyers’ great-nephew, state Sen. Ian Conyers, and state Sen. Coleman Young II, the son of the former Detroit mayor.



Eighteen-term Rep. Sandy Levin’s impending retirement has resulted in a three-candidate field for his Democratic-leaning seat in parts of Macomb and Oakland counties. His son Andy, the nephew of former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, is facing former state Rep. Ellen Lipton — one of a record-high number of women running for the U.S. House nationwide — and lawyer Martin Brook.



Democrats need to pick up roughly two-dozen seats to take control of the House for the last two years of Trump’s first term, and some key targets are in Michigan. They include the GOP-leaning 11th District in parts of Oakland and Wayne counties, where second-term Rep. Dave Trott is retiring and where who is selected in the primary could shape the November showdown. Republicans running are former Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, who lost to Trott in 2014, Trump’s Michigan campaign co-chairwoman Lena Epstein and three current or former state lawmakers: Klint Kesto, Mike Kowall and Rocky Raczkowski. The Democratic field includes two former Obama administration officials, Haley Stevens and Fayrouz Saad, along with state Rep. Tim Greimel, tech entrepreneur Suneel Gupta and radio host Nancy Skinner.



Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters must have a photo ID or sign an affidavit. Absentee voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to return their ballot to the clerk’s office.


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