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Politics & Government

Michigan Primary Day Roundup

I voted stickers
Scott Pohl

Tuesday is Michigan’s primary. It’s the first time voters will weigh in on key races around the state ahead of the general election in November. WKAR politics reporter Abigail Censky joined WKAR's All Things Considered host Sophia Saliby on Monday, to discuss what races she’s watching and potential pitfalls of the massive increase in absentee ballots.

Sophia Saliby: This is All Things Considered on WKAR, I'm Sophia Saliby. Tomorrow is Michigan's primary. It's the first time voters will weigh in on key races around the state ahead of the general election in November. WKAR politics reporter Abigail Censky is here to discuss what races she's watching, and potential pitfalls of the massive increase in absentee ballots. Thank you for being here.


Abigail Censky: Of course.


SS: So Abigail, what is one of the top races you've got your eye on?

AC: First and foremost, I think the race that I'm watching is the Michigan Senate election, which is Democrat incumbent senator Gary Peters. He's the junior senator in our state, versus John James, the Republican front runner. He's expected to sail through the Republican primary.


So, these are not really mystery candidates. We know who's going to advance through the primary, but it's really the first gauge of voter enthusiasm outside of polling. And there's a bit of a strange dynamic in this race because James has out-raised Peters four times. But Peters consistently polls ahead of James.


Real Clear Politics has recently converted this race to a toss up rating and Cook Political Report names that as one of the, you know only remaining GOP offensives on their map, which is important because this race is really essential for Senate Democrats. That's US Senate Democrats to net if they want to regain control of the US Senate.

SS: And what other races are you watching in the capital region's, congressional districts.

AC: So the first one is going to be familiar to our listeners here in Michigan's eighth congressional district that's Livingston, Oakland and Ingham counties. And that is the district of Democrat, Elissa Slotkin. She's a freshman member of the House of Representatives, but it's not, you know, her side of the race we're watching it's the crowded Republican primary.


Paul Junge is a former TV anchor and front runner. He's sunk $500,000 of his own money into the race. Alan Hoover is, you know, in terms of money he's raised the next most, he's a Marine vet and businessman. Then we have Mike Detmer, who's a real estate agent. And he has raised the next most, he also attended protests like Operation Gridlock. And then we have Kristina Lyke, who's an East Lansing attorney. So the three candidates, they're the latter candidates are pretty conservative.


And then you have Paul Junge, who's the front runner, who is more of an establishment conservative Republican. The winner, of course will go up against representative Elissa Slotkin who flipped the eighth district and 2018 from Republican to Democrat, and that's an important district because Trump won this district in 2016. So whoever wins the Republican primary in this race will go up against Rep. Elissa Slotkin at a huge funding disadvantage. Currently she's raised an enormous amount of money.


And the last race I'm watching is the third congressional district. That's on the west side of Michigan. It's Justin Amash's seat. He's a former Republican turned independent. Of course he toyed with a Libertarian presidential run. He's kind of been a perpetual thorn in the side of House Republicans. He's announced he's not running again this year. So what's interesting is the Republicans who are vying for the nomination on that side of the primary. We have Lynn Afendoulis, who's a Republican state rep, versus Peter Meijer, who is a veteran and also of course, part of the Meijer grocery family up against Hillary Scholten, the Democrat who's running. But really the interesting part there will be who gets the Republican nomination.

SS: I'm Sophia Saliby. We're here with WKAR politics reporter Abigail Censky, discussing races to watch ahead of tomorrow's primary. The other big wrinkle in this election is a lot more people than usual voting absentee. Have there been any problems with that process?

AC: So, yes and no. To a large extent, you know, we don't know if what how much slowdowns or potential problems we'll have until votes are actually being counted. But what we do know is that there have been Postal Service delays. So ahead of the election, election officials and candidates and campaigns have been calling for people to turn in their ballots, not in the mail and these two weeks before the election, but either at your clerk's office or in a ballot dropbox, and that has to be done by 8 p.m. Election Day, otherwise your ballot won't be counted. So that's been the major worry going into this election is, even if you do vote sending your ballot in too late, via mail, risks that your ballot may not in fact be counted. And as of Monday morning, more than 1.28 million absentee voter ballots had been cast. And that's a record for what's ever been cast in a Michigan election even more than in a general election in 2016. And of course, that's because prop three has changed to allow no reason absentee voting and so many more people are ditching the polls this year because of the pandemic.

SS: Abigail Censky is WKAR's politics reporter watching tomorrow's primary. Thank you for joining me.


AC: Of course.

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