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‘Pink Wave’ rolls through Michigan


Forget the “Blue Wave.”

The “Pink Wave” rolled through mid-Michigan and the Great Lakes State during last Tuesday’s primary, with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer coasting to the party’s nomination with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Elissa Slotkin not only bested Chris Smith in the 8th Congressional Democratic primary with 70 percent support, Slotkin and Smith combined received 171 more votes than incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop and his challenger.

The Democratic nominee in all five state House seats in the tri-county Capitol area were won by women, and in convincing fashion.

Kara Hope crushed her four primary opponents in the rural Ingham Countybased 67th District with 71 percent support. The one male candidate in the 71st state House District on the Democratic side received 7 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

Statewide, in the 56 state-level Democratic primary elections featuring at least one woman and at least one man, a female candidate emerged the winner 75 percent of the time.

For Congress, the Democrats will be fielding a slate of women candidates in eight of the 14 seats. In the state Senate, 18 of the 38 nominations went to women. In the state House, 58 seats out of 110 nominees are women.

In the Detroit-based 13th Congressional District, Rashida Tlaib is poised to become the nation’s first Muslim to serve in Congress after eeking out a close win over another woman, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

The biggest shocker of the night was in the Detroit/Redford Township, where sitting Sen. David Knezak lost to a woman who admittedly spent no money and campaigned relatively little, Betty Jean Alexander, 54 percent to 46 percent.

While racial dynamics and local politics also played a large role in that race, the 2018 primary was an opportunity for women to flex some political muscle and they did.

Here are some of the most pronounced examples:

Lori Stone, a Warren public school teacher who lost the Democratic nomination in the Warren-based 28th House District to then-Warren City Council member Patrick Green, 50 to 31 percent, defeated Green in a one-on-one rematch 53 to 47 percent.

— Michigan State University graduate, Laurie Pohutsky, defeated a twice-elected Livonia School Board member, Dan Centers, in the Wayne County 19th state House District.

Kyra Harris Bolden, a young former law school student, defeated Sen. Vincent Gregory in his attempt to seek re-election to his old 35th House District seat. Small business owner Katie Reiger, the endorsee of the Democrats’ Progressive Caucus, finished second behind Bolden.

— In the 10th Congressional District primary, an unknown environmental activist, Kimberly Bizon, defeated Frank Accavitti Jr., the former Eastpointe mayor, state representative and Macomb County commissioner.

— In Muskegon County, former Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright knocked off incumbent county Commissioner Benjamin Cross 64 to 36 percent.

Gidget Groendyk, an openly transgender woman, received 35 percent of the vote in a three-way Dem primary in conservative West Michigan’s 28th Senate District, finishing in a respectable second place as the only woman in the race.

The female dynamic only extended to the Democratic side of the aisle. With limited exceptions Republican candidates claiming the coziest connections to President Donald Trump’s agenda or boasted the more conservative bonafides were successful.

Rep. Tom Barrett, in the Eaton/Clinton/ Shiawassee state Senate District, for example, rolled over Rep. Brett Roberts. The only incumbent to lose on the Republican side was state Rep. Dave Maturen in Calhoun County, who was bested by Matt Hall, who beat up the Gov. Rick Snyder-backed Maturen for voting against an income tax, among other things.

The source of the female surge can clearly be connected to Trump, whose ascension to the White House angered enough people to draw 10,000 people to the state Capitol lawn in the middle of January last year.

Last Tuesday was the first opportunity for Michigan woman disgusted by having a perceived masochist as leader of the free world to do something about that other than getting together and yelling at a building.

“It’s clearly a backlash over what is happening across the country,” said Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, who could be the state’s first House Speaker if Democrats take back control of the House, a very real possibility.

Greig said after Trump’s election, women began organizing, walking, canvassing and making phone calls like she’s never seen before.

“The personal is political. A lot of women didn’t think we’d have to fight these fights again,” Greig said. “They’ve woken up. They said, ‘It’s up to me and I have to get involved.’” (Kyle Melinn, of the Capitol news service MIRS, is at melinnky@gmail.com.)


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