Most expensive state House race: Iden vs. Griffin in West Michigan

    Brandt Iden (left) and Alberta Griffin (right)

    Last fall, state Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo) won re-election by 2.5 points in the most expensive state House race in Michigan.

    Overall, it was another record-breaking cycle for state House races, with $27.6 million spent in 2018, according to data from the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN).

    Iden faced off against Democrat Alberta Griffin in a $1.55 million battle royale for the 61st District in Kalamazoo’s environs — which was still almost half of the priciest state Senate race.

    That Southeast Michigan matchup between now-state Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) and former state Rep. and now-Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox cost $2.79 million, as the Advance previously reported.

    The MCFN arrived at the almost $28 million overall House race price tag by including primary and general election candidate fundraising disclosures, independent-spending reports, broadcast TV ad-tracking data from Kantar Media/CMAG and TV ad filings from the Federal Communications Commission.

    In 2016, state House races topped $27 million.

    “However, in 2016, the state House contests didn’t have to compete for attention and funding with races for governor and the state Senate,” MCFN Executive Director Craig Mauger noted.

    Michigan Capitol, March 22, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

    The other top-spending state House races in 2018 were:

    • 71st, $1.23 million: Now-Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Twp.) defeated Republican Christine Barnes.
    • 91st, $1.18 million: Now-Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-Norton Shores) beat Democrat Tanya Cabala.
    • 40th, $1.1 million: Now-Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) defeated Republican David Wolkinson.
    • 17th, $1.08 million: Rep. Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe) bested Democrat Michelle LaVoy.
    • 41st, $1.06 million: Now-Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) beat Republican Doug Tietz.
    • 19th, $1.01 million: Now-Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) defeated Republican Brian Meakin.
    • 99th, $1.01 million: Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Union Twp.) bested Democrat Kristen Brown.
    Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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