2016 (and 2015) State House races starting to take shape

We're just 60 weeks away from the 2016 election, so it's not too early to take a look at some of the candidates who are planning to run for State House next year.

In fact, if you want to be among such candidates, you probably should be thinking about it right now.

At least 40% of Michigan voters (from 44 districts) have been represented by a lawmaker who is either term-limited (40), resigned (2), been expelled (Gamrat), or is running for higher office (Driskell). Not surprisingly, many candidates have begun to toss their hats into the ring. Here's a look at a few such candidates. Note that the candidates mentioned here have filed campaign committees; few of them have actually filed the affidavit needed to get on the ballot. Candidates have more than seven months to get their name on the August 2016 primary ballot.

The following districts have special primaries on November 3 and special general elections on March 8 (in conjunction with the presidential primary):

District 75 (Grand Rapids) - Safe Democratic - Brandon Dillon (D) resigned to become Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. A special primary will be held ANovember 3 in conjunction with municipal elections.

  • David LaGrand (D) - Christian Reformed minister, owner of two bakeries, Grand Rapids Public School Board member (since 2013), former City Commissioner (2008-2010), two-time State Senate nominee (2010 and 2006) 
  • Michael Scruggs (D) - Chairman of the Kent County Black Caucus; ran for Sheriff in 2012 and Senate in 2014
  • Blake Edmonds (R) - House staffer
District 82 (Lapeer County) - Safe Republican - The winner gets to succeed Todd Courser (R). Those won't be big shoes to fill.

  • Jake Davidson (R) - Consultant who had planned on primarying Courser
  • Gary Howell (R) - Lapeer County Road Commissioner, attorney, and Lapeer ISD board member
  • Chris Tuski (R) - Former Hadley Township firefighter and former automotive employee
The following seats will be open in 2016:

District 9 (Detroit) - Safe Democratic - Democrats will be thrilled to see Harvey Santana go. From almost starting a fight in the House floor to taunting Emily Dievendorf to accepting Kevin Cotter's appointment as ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, Santana has been bad news for House Democrats in an era when we already have enough bad news. The good news: He's term-limited. The bad news: His wife is running.
  • Rowan Latif (D) - Pharmacy employee and former Stabenow and Lawrence intern
  • Sylvia Santana (D) - Wife of Harvey Santana
District 23 (Downriver) - Tossup - Formerly held by Kathleen Law and Deb Kennedy, this seat has been held by Pat Somerville since 2011. With Somerville termed out, this seat is a top target of Democrats wanting to take back the House.
  • Sherry Berecz (D) - Brownstown Township Clerk
  • Darrin Camilleri (D) - Teacher and former President of the Michigan Federation of College Democrats
  • Steve Rzeppa (D) - Trenton City Council member

District 52 (Ann Arbor area) - Leans Democratic - Gretchen Driskell gained this seat in 2012 by defeating Mark Ouimet. Now that she's running for Congress, this seat could be a free-for-all.
  • Barbara Fuller (D) - Director of MI List and longtime political staffer
  • Donna Lasinski (D) - Ann Arbor School Board member
District 53 (Ann Arbor) - Strong Democratic - With Jeff Irwin (son of Mitch Irwin) term-limited, look for any number of Democrats to run to succeed him.
  • Yousef Rabhi (D) - Washtenaw County Commissioner and arboretum employee
District 101 (Northwestern Lower Peninsula) - Tossup - Dan Scripps narrowly lost to an incumbent in 2006, won the seat in 2008, and lost it in the 2010 drought. Democrats came just a few hundred votes shy in this seat in 2014.
  • Dan Scripps (D) - Former State Representative (2009-2011)
District 108  (Middle Upper Peninsula) - Tossup - Democrats will want to target this seat won by the late Judy Nerat in 2008. Nerat lost to Ed McBroom in 2010 and ran to reclaim her seat in 2012 before passing away at the end of that year. One Democrat has formed a campaign committee:
  • Scott Celello (D) - Dickinson County Sheriff

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