Conventional wisdom says a Republican doesn’t have a chance to win Liz Brater’s Ann Arbor-centric state senate district. That hasn’t deterred Freedom Township farmer John Hochstetler and Northfield Township publisher Gary Wellings from seeking their party’s nomination.

Democrats in Lansing, Hochstetler charges, “have done everything they can to destroy our economy…We are number one in unemployment. We are number one in housing foreclosures. We have an anti-business climate.” A former Manchester school trustee, Hochstetler points out that nothing is permanent in politics–Washtenaw County was once as staunchly Republican as it is Democratic now, and he believes it could be again.

Wellings is more cautious. “It’s a long shot,” he says of his party’s chances. “Both Pam and Rebekah have very big war chests.” Still, Wellings says, “if there ever was a year a Republican could make a mark in an Ann Arbor-Ypsi district, this would be the year. There are a lot of disenfranchised Democrats.”