Michigan legislative primaries: Some incumbents lose to colleagues, newcomers

By: - August 3, 2022 11:11 am

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Updated 1:53 p.m. with additional comments

Running for the first time after new districts were drawn for Michigan’s House and Senate, some incumbents in Tuesday’s primary lost their shot at holding their seats, while former President Donald Trump demonstrated he still has a hold on Republicans through some of his endorsements. 

Among the many incumbents who ran to win their party’s nomination, state Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit), Sen. Kim LaSata (R-Niles), state Rep. Richard Steenland (D-Roseville), state Rep. Terrence Mekoski (R-Shelby Twp.), Rep. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Twp.) and Rep. Rodney Wakeman (R-Saginaw Twp.) lost on Tuesday. 

The August primary largely went off without a hitch, except for the vote-tallying process in Wayne County was delayed by a modem issue that has slowed down efforts.

Here are the results from the state Senate and House elections the Advance watched:

1st Senate District

Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) at Teamsters 337 rally on March 20 | Ken Coleman

Incumbent state Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) beat out a number of other Democratic candidates for the 1st Senate District, winning 32% of the vote, according to unofficial returns. 

Former Detroit Judge Brenda Sanders came in second with 23.3% of the votes, followed by former state Rep. Frank Liberati (R-Allen Park) with 23%, Shellee Brooks of Detroit with 10%, Detroit Police Commissioner Ricardo Moore with 8% and Carl Schwartz of Taylor with 4%.

Geiss will be up against Republican Erik Soderquist in November. 

6th Senate District

In the 6th House District, state Rep. Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford Twp.) won with 44% of the vote. Cavanagh was followed by Farmington Hills Mayor and former state Rep. Vicki Barnett — who also is the mother of Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills) — with 36% of the votes and Darryl Brown of Detroit with 20% of the vote.

Cavanagh will be up against Republican Ken Crider of Livonia in November. 

8th Senate District 

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) defeated Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit) in a race that featured two incumbents in the newly redrawn district, which is solidly Democratic and covers portions of Oakland County and Detroit in Wayne County. 

The winner will face Republican Brandon Ronald Simpson in November. 

With 78 of 79 precincts in Oakland County reporting, McMorrow has a commanding 83.08% to 16.83%. As of 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, Wayne County had not posted results on the race. The district includes portions of Detroit and Oakland County cities such as Berkely, Royal Oak, Oak Park, Birmingham and Clawson. 

McMorrow earlier this month announced that she has pulled in a more than $1 million fundraising haul to flip the GOP-controlled Michigan Senate. The Royal Oak Democrat flipped her current district blue when she won in 2018.

Bullock is chair of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus. In the fall of 2020, someone called police on him while he was campaigning in West Michigan for a candidate who lived there. Bullock, too, was first elected in 2018. 

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow, Jan. 21, 2020 | | Laina G. Stebbins

Some African Americans, including Bullock, criticized the reapportionment process that yielded the new set of congressional and state legislative district boundaries. In January a lawsuit filed by the Detroit Caucus, a group of Black metro Detroit state House and Senate members as well as local officials and other residents, was leveled against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and its interpretation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

Michigan dropped from 14 to 13 seats in the U.S. House following the 2020 census. Before the 2021 redistricting process, Michigan had 17 majority-minority districts. 10 in the state House, five in the state Senate and two in the U.S. House. The new maps now have five majority-minority districts total, and all of them are in the state House.

11th Senate District

Veronica Klinefelt, a former Macomb County commissioner from Eastpointe, beat Monique Owens, the first Black mayor of Eastpointe, for the Democratic nomination in the 11th District with 64% of the vote.

Klinefelt will be up against Republican Sen. Michael MacDonald (R-Macomb Twp.) in November. 

16th Senate District

State Rep. Joe Bellino (R-Monroe) beat out his colleague, Rep. TC Clements (R-Temperance), for the Republican nomination for the state’s 16th District with a 52% to 48% lead. 

Bellino will face off against Democrat Katybeth Davis of Monroe. 

17th Senate District

State Sen. Kim LaSata (R-St. Joseph), April 20, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Incumbent Sen. Kim LaSata (R-Niles) lost the Republican nomination to  Trump-endorsed Jonathan Lindsey of Bronson, who describes himself an “America-first” Republican, with 39% to 61% of the votes.

“America-first” candidates believe there was widespread election fraud that cost former President Donald Trump the 2020 election.

Lindsey will be up against Democrat Scott Starr of Coldwater in November. 

18th Senate District 

State Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) beat Ryan Mancinelli of Alto, with 70% of the votes. Albert has served in the House for six years representing the former District 86 and chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

Albert will face off against Democrat Kai Degraaf of Ada.

22nd Senate District

Despite Trump saying incumbent state Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) “forgot how to be a Republican” and endorsing Republican real estate manager Mike Detmer, Theis held on to her seat with 58% of the vote. 

Detmer, who is down 16 percentage points to Theis, said Wednesday that he will not concede.

“When we have full, independent, unfettered audits of 2020 and 2022, I’ll consider the results,” Detmer wrote in a Facebook post. “I’m not buying it.”

Detmer, who lost the August 2020 GOP primary to challenge U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) in the 8th Congressional District, posted a photo with members of the Proud Boys, a self-described western chauvinist group, in April 2020. 

State Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) attends a Republican gubernatorial in Howell on May 13, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

Theis is vice-chair of the Senate Oversight Committee that released a 35-page report in June 2021 that debunked claims of widespread voter fraud in Michigan. She made national headlines for attacking McMorrow for backing LGBTQ+ rights, baselessly insinuating in a fundraising email that her colleague was a “groomer.”

Theis will face off against Democrat Jordan Genso of Brighton in November. 

27th Senate District 

State Rep. John Cherry (D-Flint) will be running against Republican Aaron Gardner, a veteran from Grand Blanc, to represent the 27th District after securing 64% of the vote. 

Cherry beat three other Democrats from Flint — David Davenport, Monica Galloway and Bill Swanson. 

28th Senate District

Republican Daylen Howard of Owosso beat Madhu Anderson of East Lansing for the Republican nomination in the 28th District, a Democratic stronghold. Howard garnered 58% of the vote and will face off against former East Lansing Mayor and former state Rep. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing). 

35th Senate District

In the 35th Senate District, Rep. Annette Glenn (R-Midland) secured 40% of the vote, beating out former Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw), Christian Velasquez of Midland and Martin Blank of Saginaw. 

Glenn will face off against Kristen Rivet, the chief strategy advisor of the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, in November. 

37th Senate District

Rep. John Damoose, Jan. 12, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

State Rep. John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs) won a four-way primary in the 37th Senate District, beating state Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona), businessman William Hindle of Charlevoix and Mackinaw City Village Trustee George Ranville.

Right-wing radio host Randy Bishop, who goes by “Trucker Randy,” ran as a Democrat, even though he’s a former GOP official, but lost to Democrat Barbara Conley of Northport. 

38th Senate District

Incumbent Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) beat “America-first” candidate Matthew Furyk of Marquette and Kayla Wikstrom of Perkins.

McBroom will run against special education teacher Democrat John Braamse of Marquette. 

4th House District

Incumbent state Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) won 62% of the vote, beating out Lori Turner of Detroit with 27% and Gus Tarraf of Dearborn with 18%. 

Whitsett has gone against her party on some key votes, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was invited to the White House by Trump in 2020 after contracting COVID-19 and praised him for his endorsement of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug she said she took during her illness that she credits for saving her life. 

Whitsett will be up against Republican Tonya Wells of Detroit in November.

6th House District

Incumbent state Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park) won 55% of the votes, beating out Danielle Hall of Detroit and Myya Jones of Detroit who both won 15% of the votes and Mark Murphy of Oak Park with 8%.

Weiss will be up against Republican Charles Villerot of Royal Oak in November.

7th House District

State Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit). | Ken Coleman

Incumbent state Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit) won 53% of the vote. Melanie Macey of Royal Oak came in second with 40% of the votes and Grant Rivet of Royal Oak followed with 7%.

There are no Republicans running in the 7th House District so Scott is the likely winner in the November election.

12th House District

Incumbent state Rep. Richard Steenland (D-Roseville) lost to newcomer Kimberly Edwards of Eastpointe. Edwards won 52% of the vote while Steenland trailed behind with 48%. 

Edwards will be up against Republican businesswoman Diane Saber of Roseville in November. 

20th House District

Democrat Noah Arbit of West Bloomfield, the founder of the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus, won the party’s nomination with 47% of the vote. Ken Ferguson of West Bloomfield came in second with 31% of votes and James Sklar of West Bloomfield followed with 22%. 

Arbit will face off against Albert Mansour of West Bloomfield, who won the Republican primary with 54%.

35th House District

Incumbent Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale) beat out businessman Steve Meckley of Cement City for the Republican nomination in the GOP-stronghold 35th District. Fink won 57% and Meckley won 43%. 

Fink will face Democrat Andrew Watkins of Hillsdale in November. 

36th House District

State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) won in a four-way primary against Scott McGraw of Centreville, Jerry Solis of Three Rivers and Jack Coleman of Three Rivers. Carra garnered the most support of the four Republicans, winning 40% of the votes. 

Carra, who received Trump’s endorsement, has backed baseless claims that the election was stolen and introduced a bill for an Arizona-style so-called “forensic audit” of the 2020 election. Carra also attended a pro-Trump protest in Lansing on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

Carra will be up against Democrat Roger Williams of Dowagiac.

43rd House District

Another Trump-endorsed candidate, Rachelle Smit of Shelbyville, won the Republican nomination in the 43rd House District with 50% of the vote. She beat Republicans Nevin Cooper-Keel of Allegan, Phillip Joseph of Delton and Lindsay Kronemeyer of Dorr.

Smit will face off against Democrat Mark Ludwig of Fennville, who ran for the House in 2018, in November. 

59th House District

With 52% of the vote, State Sen. Douglas Wozniak (R-Shelby Twp.) won the Republican nomination for the 59th House District, beating Rep. Terence Mekoski (R-Shelby Twp.) with 34% and Frank Cusumano of Macomb with 14%. 

Wozniak has pushed 2020 election fraud conspiracies and filed a motion in a failed lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results. After new districts were drawn and Wozniak ended up in a district with Republican Sen. Ruth Johnson of Holly, the former secretary of state, he chose not to run for Senate again. 

Instead he ran to win back his seat in the House, which he vacated after winning a special election to fill a vacant seat in 2020 when GOP former Sen. Pete Lucido was elected Macomb County prosecutor.

Mekoski won Wozniak’s seat in the House once that was left vacant.

Wozniak will be up against Democrat James Diez of Shelby Township in November.

63rd House District

GOP candidate Jacky Eubanks and former President Donald Trump | Facebook

Trump-endorsed candidate Jacky Eubanks of Chesterfield Township, who has pushed election fraud conspiracies, lost to Republican St. Clair County Clerk Jay DeBoer of Clay Township.

DeBoyer, who will be up against Democrat Kelly Noland of Chesterfield, won 50% of the vote, while Eubanks garnered 29%, followed by Skarbek with 21%.

64th House District

State Rep. Andrew Beeler (R-Ft. Gratiot) beat Rep. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Twp.) and John Mahaney of Port Huron. 

Beeler won 67% of the votes, Eisen won 26% and Mahaney won 7%. 

Beeler will be up against Charles Howell of Fort Gratiot in November. 

67th House District

With eight Republicans running in the primary election to represent the 67th House District, Incumbent state Rep. Phil Green (R-Millington) won with 26% of the vote. 

Closely behind was Chris Tuski of Lapeer, who won 23%. Gabriel Lossing of Fostoria won 22%, Chad Moore of Metamora won 14%, Linda Glisman of Lapeer won 5% and Eric Gunnels of Clio won 4%, Sherry Cross of Flint won 4% and Kurt Hausauer of Lapeer won 3%.

Green will face off against Democrat Brian Lajoie of Lapeer in November. 

71st House District

Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole won the Republican nomination for the 71st District, winning 46% of the vote. 

Trump-endorsed veteran Kevin Rathbun of Corunna came in second with 37% of the votes, followed by Bob Carlin of Owosso with 14% and Ali Williston of Linden with 3%.

BeGole will face Democrat Mark Zacharda of Owosso in November. 

75th  House District

Democrat Penelope Tsernoglou of East Lansing, a political consultant and former Ingham County commissioner, beat attorney Don Keskey of Haslett and current Ingham County Commissioner Emily Stivers of Haslett for the Democratic nomination with 54% of the vote. 

Tsernoglou will face off against Republican candidate Chris Stewart of Bath in November.

77th House District

In a tight race for the strongly Democratic open 77th District, former Lansing City Council candidate Emily Dievendorf of Lansing beat businessman Jon Horford of Lansing with 41.2% to 41% for the Democratic nomination. Logan Byrne of DeWitt garnered 18% of the votes. 

Dievendorf will be up against Republican John Magoola of Lansing. 

88th House District

State Rep. Greg VanWoerkom | House GOP photo

State Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-Norton Shores beat Trump-endorsed candidate Mick Bricker of Spring Lake with 63% to 37% of the vote. 

VanWoerkom will be up against Democrat Christine Baker, vice president of the Grand Haven Area Public Schools Board of Education in November.

95th House District

Bill G. Schuette, son of former Attorney General Bill Schuette, won the Republican nomination with 64% of the vote, followed Midland County Clerk Ann Manary with 31% and Charles McGinnis Jr. of Midland with 5%.

Schuette will face off against Democrat Matthew Dawson of Midland in November. 

97th House District

Businessman Matthew Bierlein of Vassar beat incumbent Rep. Rodney Wakeman (R-Saginaw Twp.) with 59% to 30% of the votes. Dean Riley of Clio won 11% of the votes. 

Bierlein will be up against Democrat Paul Whitner of Vassar in November. 


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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8.