Republicans unlikely to beat Winnie Brinks; candidates lining up in the 72nd

In 2012, then-State House Speaker Jase Bolger admitted that had Roy Schmidt remained a Democrat, Republicans wouldn't have beaten him.

In 2016, with a more popular Winnie Brinks running for re-election in Schmidt's old seat, it's clear that they've given up once again.

Grand Rapids - which elects its city comptroller - saw two former comptrollers run to try to replace Brinks. Donijo Dejonge won the primary but only got 44% of the vote in the general election. Thus far this cycle, Republicans have failed to find a candidate willing to run against Brinks... except for Casey O'Neill, who lost two landslide elections to County Commissioner Carol Hennessy.

Meanwhile, Kentwood might be home to a state representative for the first time in many years.

The race to replace my state representative, the term-limited Ken Yonker (against whom I ran in 2012), has thus far drawn three candidates:

  • Bob Coughlin, recently-re-elected to the Kentwood City Commission
  • Ryan Gallogly, a teacher who used to coach East Kentwood's football team
  • Tony Noto, a Kentwood resident and banquet hall owner

Gallogly, of Gaines Township, is the only one who doesn't live in Kentwood. He stepped down from coaching East Kentwood's football team to spend more time with his family. Given the demands of a campaign - and given the name recognition of the other two candidates - Gallogly doesn't yet come across as the kind of candidate who might have much chance of winning.

Kentwood - which has roughly 56% of the population of 72nd District - hasn't been the hometown of a state representative in a long time. Previous representatives of the district - Yonker, Justin A., Glenn Steil, Jr., and Mark Jansen - have hailed from surrounding townships. During that time, one other Kentwood resident - Bill Hardiman - served as a state senator.

The filing deadline is April 19.

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