AP NEWS

AP News Guide: President, state House are top Michigan races

November 7, 2016
In this Nov. 4, 2016, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Eastern Market in Detroit. If she gets to the White House, Clinton has a daunting to-do list. And it's made more complicated because she's laid out some very specific promises. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Hillary Clinton is confident Michigan will remain reliably Democratic, while Donald Trump is hoping he is the presidential nominee who can finally carry the state for Republicans again.

Tuesday’s election also will cap two close U.S. House races at opposite ends of the state and a closely watched battle for control of one-half of the GOP-led Legislature — the outcome of which will influence Gov. Rick Snyder’s last two terms in office.

Here’s a closer look at the contests:

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THE BIG BLUE WALL?

Despite being a state in the “blue wall” that Democrats have carried for at least six straight presidential races and that accounts for 242 electoral votes of the 270 needed to win, Michigan has been showered by candidate attention in recent days.

Introduced by Chelsea Clinton, President Barack Obama campaigned in Ann Arbor on Monday, criticizing Trump for opposing the auto industry bailout. “When I tell you that Donald Trump is not the guy who’s going to look out for you, you need to listen. Do not be bamboozled,” he said.

A Trump victory in Michigan could portend a big night for him nationally, while winning the state’s 16 electoral votes would put Clinton well on her way to the White House.

Both will return to the state later Monday for rallies in or near Grand Rapids, a conservative-leaning part of the state where neither did well in the primary election. Also in Michigan were Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, and three of Trump’s children.

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STATE HOUSE MAJORITY

With no statewide proposals and few statewide races on the ballot this year, a major focus is the Michigan House. It’s the Democrats’ last shot to disrupt the GOP agenda or else Republicans will lead the Legislature all eight years of Snyder’s tenure.

Conditions are ideal for Democrats to bolster their ranks, but capturing the majority could be elusive. At least a dozen GOP-held House districts — half with incumbents, half open due to term limits — will determine which party secures the minimum 56 seats needed.

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CONGRESS

Democrats hoping to offset Michigan Republicans’ 9-5 edge in the U.S. House have targeted two seats — the vast, mostly rural 1st District in northern Michigan and the 7th District, which stretches south and east from the Lansing area to the Indiana border. Both are GOP-leaning, especially after redistricting. The 1st features Republican Jack Bergman against Democrat Lon Johnson after third-term Rep. Dan Benishek opted not to run again. In the 7th, fourth-term Rep. Tim Walberg faces a challenge from state Rep. Gretchen Driskell.

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HIGH COURT

The two most significant elections for statewide office are for spots on the Michigan Supreme Court, where Republicans have a 5-2 majority over Democrats. Party affiliations are not listed on the ballot, but parties nominate the candidates. And conservative incumbents Joan Larsen and David Viviano will be labeled as justices, a clear advantage when voters usually have no idea who is on the bench.

Larsen, who Snyder chose to fill a vacancy in 2015 and Trump has mentioned as a possible U.S. Supreme Court pick, is being challenged by Wayne County Circuit Judge Deborah Thomas for a two-year term. Viviano faces Wayne County Probate Judge Frank Szymanski for an eight-year term.

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HOW TO VOTE

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. 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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DON’T SNAP THAT SELFIE

A federal appeals court has kept intact for now Michigan’s ban on voters taking photos of their completed ballot. The prohibition on exposing completed ballots has been in place for 125 years, but a judge ruled last month it is a free-speech violation in the era of cellphone cameras and instant social media posts. The lawsuit, filed by a Portage resident, will continue after the election.

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Follow David Eggert on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/david-eggert