Republicans have controlled Michigan’s State Senate since 1984. Local Democrats think that could change this year.
Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners chair Sue Shink whomped former Jackson city councilor Kelsey Heck Wood 68–27 percent in the primary in the newly created Fourteenth State Senate District, covering northwestern Washtenaw and northeastern Jackson County. (Val Cochran Toops got the remaining 5 percent.) Shink goes on to face Republican Grass Lake construction business owner Tim Golding in November, but believes she’ll win then too—and that the Dems will take the Senate for the first time since 1983.
Incumbent state senator Jeff Irwin agrees that their party is in its strongest position in a generation. He calls Shink’s chances “very good” and says he’s “hopeful” in his own race against Lodi Township Republican Wyckham Seelig in the reconfigured Fifteenth Senate District, covering all of Ann Arbor that the Fourteenth doesn’t, plus Ypsilanti, Saline, and portions of Lenawee and Monroe counties.
Like Shink, Irwin sees “a strong likelihood” that his party will take the Senate, and that governor Gretchen Whitmer will beat Republican Tudor Dixon. He even thinks the House—GOP controlled since 2011—could flip this year, though he admits the “House maps are just a little bit more pro-Republican than the Senate maps.”
That includes the new House Forty-Eighth District, where Ann Arbor Democrat and journalist Jennifer Conlin faces Howell Republican and Marine veteran Jason Woolford. The Forty-Eighth covers the northern part of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Township, stretching north into Livingston County and west into Jackson County.