Return of the GOP
The same trend held true in Washtenaw County. Though the county's west side still remains resolutely Republican, the county commission is dominated by Democrats. And after having been Republican from time immemorial, every countywide elected post, from sheriff to clerk, is now held by a Democrat.
"Ann Arbor Republicans had a defeatist mindset," says Stuart Berry, a Republican running in Ward Five. "The feeling was we were so far outnumbered in the general election that why bother running."
The mindset changed after the 2008 election and the rise of the Tea Party movement. "That's where the energy is coming from," says Stan Watson, a Republican running for country clerk. The limited-government activists, he says, are "strong on what they believe in, they stand their ground, and they're not going away."
So far, energy hasn't meant victory. Even after a big push in 2010, the only Republicans on the county board are from the west, and the only non-Democrat on the city council is Republican-turned-independent Jane Lumm. Of the four Republicans who ran in Ann Arbor in the last two years, only one got more than a quarter of the vote.