"He looked unbeatable," recalls Dexter Township supervisor Pat Kelly. Going into last fall's campaign against Saline mayor Gretchen Driskell, Kelly says, Republican state rep Mark Ouimet "was well known and well liked in most of the political community." The GOP-controlled legislature had even sacrificed another Republican incumbent, Rick Olson, to boost Ouimet's chances, moving conservative Northfield and Salem townships from Olson's district to Ouimet's. Yet Driskell still knocked Ouimet out of office, winning 53 percent of the vote.
Republican county commissioner Rob Turner likewise looked unbeatable--until he lost to Democrat Kent Martinez-Kratz 48 to 52 percent in District One. "That one was an even bigger surprise," continues Kelly. "Gretchen was out there working really hard, and I don't know what else Kent did, but he never came to a township board meeting and introduced himself."
Kelly, herself a Democrat, narrowly beat back Republican challenger Jim Drolett 51 to 49 percent in her own township. "Jim had been supervisor for twelve years," she says. "He was well liked, too, and his wife was running for treasurer." Jim Drolett lost but Pat Drolett won, along with longtime Republican clerk Harley Rider plus pairs of Republican and Democratic trustees, leaving the township once again with a divided government.