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Another couple of Republicans — one-time FOX 47 anchor Paul Junge and East Lansing attorney Kristina Lyke — pledged last week to run in the 8th Congressional District next year, creating a four-pack of candidates vying to face U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin.
Junge, a former congressional staffer, and Lyke, a former Pinckney Village Councilwoman, join State Board of Education member Nikki Snyder and real estate agent Mike Detmer in a field that may not be set. The filing deadline for 2020 is in April.
Still, at this stage, the Republican 2020 field comprises four mostly unknown Livingston County residents (Lyke commutes to East Lansing) whose collective political experience is relatively short, at best.
One Republican political insider described the field as “lower-tier.” The fact there’s “more” doesn’t make it “merrier” either.
Political parties tend not to like large competitive primaries in battleground districts. Recently history shows, more candidates scrapping over a depleting pool of money isn’t a fantastic road to knocking off a well funded incumbent.
After all, few people know any of these four fine people. Without money for ads, it’s hard to get name ID up.
The Republican field so far:
— Junge, 53, anchored at FOX47 from 2002-04, is running in his first race for political office. Prior to moving back to Michigan, Junge served as investigative counsel for U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley. He also served in the Trump administration within the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
— Lyke, 43, of Fowlerville, runs an East Lansing law firm that specializes in family and criminal law. She was the youngest person ever elected to the Pinckney City Council, serving from 1999 to 2001. She’s worked as a legislative assistant to former Rep. Paul DeWeese and an assistant to then-Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus.
— Snyder, 35, of Whitmore Lake, is a first-term State Board of Education member, elected in 2016. Snyder, no relation to the former governor, is an adjunct faculty member at Washtenaw County College and the University of Detroit Mercy.
— Detmer, 42, of Howell, is a licensed real estate agent, the general manager of a car dealership and a former vice president of Nova Mortgage Corp. in Bloomfield Hills. Former gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck was the featured guest speaker at his campaign for state representative. Detmer has since switched focus and is running for Congress now.
Michigan’s August primary means the winner has little time to replenish the coffers before the Nov. 3 General Election. And with Sloktin sitting on $1.7 million and much more a year from now, the primary winner will need Republican National Campaign Committee or PAC money to get their message out.
Unless polling shows a tight race, that isn’t happening.
Remember, MI-8 (Ingham, Livingston and Oakland counties) was at least a $30 million seat last year with all the special interest money and national money being thrown around. The expensive Detroit media market had a lot to do with that. Slotkin being an exceptional moderate candidate with a national security background in the midst of the MeToo movement helped, too.
Democrats and their allies would be willing to open up their wallets to stick up for their freshman incumbent. Republicans aren’t as committed.
The cold reality is money wins congressional districts these days: at least $5 million. All the conservative grassroots support in the world is only going to get them so far.
If President Donald Trump is tanking, the NRCC & Friends will be trying to bail out their incumbents, like U.S. Rep. Fred Upton in Southwest Michigan, not fight losing battles when the new independent redistricting commission is going to redraw seats in 2021 anyway.
A decent economy gives Donald Trump a path to victory in Michigan in 2020, but the political types watching this race realize that Republicans can retake the U.S. House without winning MI-8. So, if the NRCC can spend the money they’d need to spend here in a couple other better options, they’ll do it.
(Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS is at email@example.com.)