Key state House races: Thanedar headed to Lansing, Whitsett holds on

Shri Thanedar at the Mackinac Policy Conference | Andrew Roth

It looks like millionaire Shri Thanedar will finally be coming to Lansing — as a member of the state Legislature in January.

Here’s a look at some noteworthy state House primaries on Tuesday on both the Democratic and GOP sides:

3rd House District

There was a crowded eight-candidate Democratic field vying for the 3rd state House District, but Thanedar, a 2018 gubernatorial candidate, is the winner. He has a lead over the pack with 34.9% of the vote, with 98% of precincts reporting. 

Donavan McKinney is second with 20.4%, followed by China Cochran with 16.7% and Al Williams at 16.3%. John Cromer has 3.8%, Keith McMurtry has 3.4%, Art Tyus has 3.3% and Steven Lett had .9%

Thanedar’s third-place finish for governor in 2018 was augmented by a big portion of votes from the 3rd District. Thanedar, an Indian-born businessman, self-funded the race to the tune of almost $500,000.

The seat is currently filled by term-limited state Rep. Wendell Byrd (D-Detroit). Whichever Democrat comes out on top will go head-to-head with sole Republican candidate Anita Vinson in the general election.

He spent $10M of his own money running for governor in ‘18. So why does Shri Thanedar want to join the Legislature next year?

9th House District

First-term state Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit), who alienated many Democratic allies with her praise for Trump, looks to have survived her four-way primary challenge. 

As of Wednesday morning, 83% of precincts are in for the Detroit-based 9th House District and Whitsett has 44.9%. Longtime organizer Roslyn Ogburn, who was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has 29.9%. Marc Cummings has 17.9% and Nicole Elcock has 6.3%.

Republican primary candidate James Stephens ran for the deep blue seat unopposed.

2nd House District

This district, which includes Detroit and Grosse Pointe, is home to a one-on-one Democratic primary race between incumbent state Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) and Taylor Harrell.

Tate has kept his seat with 68.9% to Harrell’s 30.7%, with 98% of precincts reporting.

The incumbent had a big fundraising advantage over Harrell, although the challenger boasts the support of Tate’s colleague, state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit).

GOP candidate Mayra Rodriguez ran unopposed in the heavily Democratic district.

Is this Michigan House seat held by a Trump-friendly Dem the next big pickup for progressives?

37th House District

State House Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) is term-limited in the Democratic-leaning 37th District in metro Detroit. 

Farmington Hills City Council Member Samantha Steckloff, daughter of former state Rep. Vickie Barnett (D-Farmington Hills) has won the Democratic nomination to replace Greig. 

House Minority Christine Greig after the State of the State address, Jan. 29, 2020 | Andrew Roth

Steckloff earns 48.8%, with 100% of precincts reporting in the three-way primary. Michael Bridges has 30.6% and Randy Bruce has 20.7%.

On the GOP side, Mitch Swoboda was unopposed.

47th House District

In the open Republican primary for this GOP-dominated Livingston County district, County Commissioner Bob Bezotte has triumphed in a four-way race.

State Rep. Hank Vaupel (R-Fowlerville) is term-limited.

With 100% reporting, Bezotte takes 53.6%, with Meghan Reckling at 40.5%, Yvonne Black at 3% and Zachary Dyba at 2.9%.

73rd House District

The son of a former lieutenant governor looks to have won a three-way GOP primary for the 73rd House District in West Michigan with 45.5% of the vote, with 63% of precincts reporting.

Oakfield Township’s Bryan Posthumus, the son of Dick Posthumus and brother of Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons, is ahead of longtime Republican leader John Inhulsen, who has 30%, and Grand Rapids-based Robert Regan, who has 24.5%. 

Posthumus enjoyed a big endorsement advantage coupled with name recognition in the area, while Inhulsen put up a worthy fight with plenty of funds.

The district is currently represented by state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Twp.), who left the seat open to run for Amash’s seat in Congress. Afendoulis lost that GOP primary to Peter Meijer.

107th House District

House Speaker Lee Chatfield speaks at the auto insurance reform bill signing, May 30, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) is term-limited this year and his endorsed candidate is set up to replace him in this GOP-heavy northern Michigan seat.

Republican John Damoose from Harbor Springs held onto a blowout-sized lead of 56.6% over six other candidates with 100% reporting. 

Kathy Twardy has 11.7%, Sue Fisher has 10.5%, Terry Lamb has 9.7%, David Laughbaum has 5.2%, Tana Baldwin has 3.5% and Damon Lieurance has 2.9%.

Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, immigration and criminal justice. She is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or listening to podcasts, she loves art and design, discovering new music, being out in nature and spending time with her two cats Rainn and Remy.
C.J. Moore
C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.