Primary election day 2018 is in the books, with a huge turnout of voters across Oakland County renewing public transportation (SMART) millage, choosing party candidates to run for governor, congress and Oakland County and state House and Senate offices in November, and passing a Bloomfield Township safety path millage proposal.
Voter turnout was higher than expected throughout the county, with Oakland County reporting a 32.74 percent turnout, much higher than the 20.61 percent countywide of registered voters in the 2014 primary election. The turnout left numerous precincts short on ballots – and clerks scrambling to find sample or absentee ballots to avoid leaving voters without the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
According to Bloomfield Township officials, precincts in Bloomfield Township, Birmingham, West Bloomfield, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Ferndale and Pontiac – and possibly others – were left without a sufficient number of ballots for primary voters.
According to sources, Oakland County Clerk Director of Elections Joe Rozelle did not supply local clerks with the number of ballots each had requested. Local clerks said they have no control over how many ballots they are given.
In the hotly-contested 11th Congressional District to replace retiring Rep. David Trott (R-Birmingham), Republican Lena Epstein is the presumed winner out of a pool of five Republican candidates. The sprawling district runs from the southwestern edge of Rochester Hills, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Troy, Clawson, West Bloomfield, the Oakland County lakes area and into western Wayne County. With Oakland County numbers in, and Wayne County's website down, Epstein received 28.92 percent of the vote, with challengers former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski receiving 22.54 percent and state Sen. Mike Kowall receiving 22.30 percent, state Rep. Klint Kesto, 16.47 percent, and former Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, 9.67 percent of Oakland County votes.
Calls to Epstein's campaign were not returned Tuesday night for comment.
Facing Epstein in November will be Democrat Haley Stevens, who beat out four other Democrats for the nomination. With a majority of precincts in Oakland County reporting and having won Plymouth in Wayne County before the Wayne County website crashed, Stevens campaign was feeling good about the inclusive, districtwide campaign she had run in the primary. Stevens received 27.05 percent of the Oakland County vote, setting up a battle of the women in November.
“It’s clear that Haley’s record as chief of staff to President Obama’s Auto Rescue resonated with voters looking for someone who understands the Motor City economy. She stood up in a time of crisis and helped save 200,000 Michigan jobs and will step up again in Congress to help lower healthcare costs and grow our economy,” said Jake Strassberger, spokesperson for the Haley Stevens campaign.
In the Democrat primary, Auburn Hills-based state Rep. Tim Greimel brought in 24.13 percent of Oakland County's tally, while Suneel Gupta received 20.87 percent. Fayrouz Saad had 17.23 percent, and Nancy Skinner, just 10.56 percent.
Congressman Mike Bishop of Rochester cruised back to the Republican nomination in the 8th Congressional District, fending off challenger Lokesh Kumar by a landslide, receiving 92 percent of the vote. “I am honored by the support of my fellow Michiganders. I look forward to discussing my record of helping families earn higher wages, protecting children, safeguarding the Great Lakes, and working to find common sense solutions to the challenges Michigan families face every day," said Bishop.
Bishop will face Democrat Elissa Slotkin of Holly in November. Slotkin, a former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and intelligence officer who served three tours of duty in Iraq, prevailed over fellow Democrat Chris Smith, a Michigan State University professor, 71.8 percent to 28.2 percent.
“I’m proud to have earned the votes of so many people today, and thankful to the amazing volunteers who came out to knock doors and make calls. Over the last year, I’ve heard one, clear message from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents across the district: Folks want new voices and a new generation in Washington who will be accountable to voters, not special interests,” Slotkin said. “I will bring my mission-focused approach that I learned serving my country in the intelligence community and at the Pentagon to Congress, and I will fight for the issues that matter to people here. I’m a firm believer that you can’t change Congress without changing who you send to Washington.”
Bloomfield Township Democrat Andy Levin is one step closer to filling his father Sandy Levin’s shoes in Congress, after winning the Democratic primary for the 9th District. Levin prevailed over Ellen Lipton of Huntington Woods and Martin Brook of Bloomfield Hills.
Lipton narrowly prevailed in Oakland County – winning 47.91 percent, or 18,639 votes, to Levin's 47.06 percent, for 18,309 votes. But Levin had a huge night in Macomb County, winning 56.1 percent, or 46,677, of the votes, to prevail over Lipton, who received 38.6 percent (19,506) of Macomb's vote. Brook received just 5 percent of the vote, or 4,637 votes.
“I'm really happy. I'm excited and humbled to be chosen by the Democrats to be their candidate for Congress,” Levin said. “I think our message of raising the standard of living of working people of the district really resonated with voters. We were really able to connect with voters.”
Looking at results across the Democratic spectrum Tuesday night, Levin said he doesn't want to just win elections for himself, but to build coalitions to help Democrats win across the board.
He will face Republican Candius Stearns in November, who ran unopposed in the primary. The district is gerrymandered to favor Democrats, but Levin said he will “campaign like we're down 10 points in November.”
Bloomfield Hills Republican Mike McCready pulled out a narrow victory in the race for the Republican candidate for the 12th District State Senate Seat, winning by a 1.04 percent margin.
McCready, who took a total of 12,512 votes on Tuesday, faced fellow Republicans Jim Tedder (12,224 votes), Terry Whitney (2,071 votes) and Vern Molnar (766 votes). McCready will advance to the November general election to face Democrat Rosemary Bayer, who ran unopposed in the primary.
"I'm ecstatic. Absolutely ecstatic," McCready said on Tuesday night. "We knew it was going to be tight. We knew it was going to be razor thin. I'm really thankful for the people that supported me. It's just unbelievable."
Both McCready and Tedder are currently serving their third, and final, terms, in the Michigan House of Representatives. McCready is consider a more moderate conservative compared to Tedder. McCready's win was also likely due in part to Whitney, a far-right conservative and also a resident of Clarkston, which assuredly syphoned off some 2,000 votes that would have gone to Tedder.
"It did help having the third candidate," McCready said, in reference to Whitney. "We worked really hard. It was just outstanding."
Birmingham Democrat Mari Manoogian will face off against fellow Birmingham resident and Republican candidate David Wolkinson in the November general election for the state's 40th House District seat held by outgoing Rep. Mike McCready (R-Birmingham), who is term-limited.
Manoogian took 52.97 percent (8,877 votes) of the ballots cast, compared to Birmingham Democrat Nicole Bedi's 46.88 percent (7,856).
"I'm so thrilled about the way our team performed over the past few weeks," Manoogian said. "We turned up door knocking to reach all the voters in our district. We knocked on over 16,500 doors and reached thousands of voters. I'm so incredibly proud. It's an honor to be the Democratic nominee."
Democratic tickets cast in the race totaled 16,759, compared to 11,713 for all Republican candidates in the race, suggesting a strong possibility the seat is ripe to flip to the Democratic column.
Wolkinson, who took the most Republican votes in the race with 3,359 (28.68 percent), was unavailable for comment on Tuesday night.
Wolkinson's total was followed by Joe Zane with 2,345 votes (20.02 percent); Mike Banerian with 1,874 votes (16 percent); Malissa Bossardet with 1,826 votes (15.59 percent); Paul Taros with 1,175 votes (10.03 percent); and Paul Secrest with 1,108 votes (9.46 percent).
In the 45th state House District, 9,144 votes were cast in the Democratic primary, with Kyle Cooper, a bartender and student, prevailing over retired physician Ted Golden. Cooper received 56.31 percent of the vote, with 5,149 votes, versus Golden's 43.3 percent and 3,959 votes. Cooper will now face current state Rep. Michael Webber (R ) in the November general election.
“We realize we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Cooper said Tuesday evening. “Rochester and Rochester Hills haven't been blue in a long time, but a lot of people want to help teachers and students.
“Over 9,000 people voted in this election,” Cooper continued. “If turnout stays this high in the general election, we have a good chance. We're heading back to work, talking to people and having real conversation, tomorrow.”
In the only contested primary campaign for county commissioner in Downtown's coverage area, Thomas E. Kuhn won the Republican nomination for the 11th District over Glenn Clark. Kuhn received 62.24 percent of the vote compared to Clark's 37.29 percent. Kuhn will face Ann Erickson Gault in the general election.
Oakland County voters, by a wide margin, approved the public transportation (SMART) millage renewal, 77.28 percent voting for the tax with just 22.72 percent of voters not approving the renewal. Birmingham and Bloomfield Township are participating communities.
In Bloomfield Township, voters overwhelmingly approved a Safety Path Millage Renewal, with 71.09 percent approval, which will continue building and maintaining the safety path program in the township.