Inside and outside of Oakland

Two Democrats survive Tuesday's GOP juggernaut in Oakland County

  Tuesday's voting gave Republicans control of the governor's office, legislature and supreme court heading into redistricting next year.
  Locally, Republicans also expanded their control on the Oakland County commission.
  But voting didn't entirely go the Republicans' way in the partisan portion of the ballot.

  In Oakland County, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, fought off a challenge from Farmington Hills Republican Rocky Raczkowski to keep the congressional seat he won two years ago.
  And state Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, defeated her Republican opponent Lois Shulman of West Bloomfield by fewer than 100 votes.
  Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson's victory in the secretary of state race against Democrat Jocelyn Benson means domino-effect changes in Oakland County.
  The county will have to pick a new clerk, and likely a new county commissioner during the process.
  Here's what changed because of Tuesday's voting:

State Offices
  Call him nerd no more.
  Republican Rick Snyder had long coattails Tuesday that helped sweep races for secretary of state, attorney general, Michigan Supreme Court, the state Senate and state House.
  Voters in Oakland County went heavily for Snyder, by a 60 to 40 percent margin.
  County voters' preference for Republican Bill Schuette over Democrat David Leyton for attorney general, and for Johnson for secretary of state over Benson, tended to mirror statewide results.
  Oakland County voters also mirrored the state in preferring Republicans Bob Young and Mary Beth Kelly for Michigan Supreme Court over Democrats Alton Davis and Oakland Circuit Judge Denise Langford Morris.

U.S. Congress
  Nationally, some 61 new Republicans will be heading to Washington in January, and Republicans took back control of the U.S. House, but Republican Rocky Raczkowski won't be among them.
  Raczkowski came up short in his bid to unseat first-term U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, in Tuesday's election, losing to Peters 126,155 to 119,673, or 49.75 percent to 47.20 percent.
  Peters announced his victory to supporters about 2 a.m. Wednesday, his staff said, even though the tally in Pontiac wasn't completed and posted by county elections officials until 11 a.m.
  Oakland County Director of Elections Joe Rozell said the delay in counting votes in Pontiac wasn't from mechanical failure of any of the elections equipment.
  "From what I observed, it was just a slow counting process," Rozell said. "It wasn't like the machines breaking or mechanical failure of any kind.
  "We'll be working very closely with Pontiac prior to the next election to address these issues to make sure they can report in a timely manner," he said.
  For Peters, it was business as usual Wednesday, as he scheduled more small business roundtables in the district.
  The district, entirely within Oakland County, represents Pontiac, Lake Angelus, Auburn Hills, Keego Harbor, Sylvan Lake, Orchard Lake, Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, Rochester, Troy, Clawson, Royal Oak, Berkley, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, and the townships of Bloomfield, Southfield, Waterford, West Bloomfield, Oakland and part of Orion.
  In other congressional races affecting Oakland County, U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, and Thaddeus McCotter, R-Livonia, all won re-election easily.
  Rogers' district includes north Oakland County, Levin’s includes southeast Oakland County, and McCotter’s includes west Oakland County.

State House
  State House races surprised both Republicans and Democrats alike.
  Republicans expected to pick up some seats, but probably not enough to claim the majority in the chamber from Democrats.
  Instead, they were pleasantly surprised.
  Republicans statewide ousted nine Democrat incumbents and claimed 11 open seats to take back control of the state House.
  For the new governor, Snyder, it means he'll be dealing with Republicans in control of both the state House and Senate when he takes office in January, and he'll have a GOP leaning supreme court to work with as he moves ahead with his "Reinvent Michigan" agenda.
  "I think that Snyder has some real coattails and that's good," said state Rep. Chuck Moss, R-Birmingham, who as a minority member on the House Appropriations Committee may now find himself considered for the committee chairmanship.
  "I certainly wouldn't mind doing that at all," said Moss, a former Oakland County commissioner. "That's kind of what I did in Oakland County but nothing's been decided."
  The House will choose its new leadership when they are seated in January.
  One House seat Republicans didn't pick up was in the District 39 race between incumbent Democrat Lisa Brown and Republican challenger Lois Shulman.
  That swing district represents Commerce and West Bloomfield townships, and Wolverine Lake.
Brown withstood the Republican juggernaut Tuesday to keep her seat with an 87-vote win over Shulman, 17,138 to 17,051. Libertarian Nathan Allen had 727 votes, perhaps just enough to deny Shulman an upset in that race.
  The shift in power in the state House to Republicans, however, means Oakland County loses somewhat when it comes to having an education advocate in Lansing.
  State Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, had been the chairman of the House Education Committee.
  "That's gone, unless the Republicans give a Democrat a chairmanship, which I doubt," Melton said in the aftermath of the election.
  Committee chairmen have broad power to set legislative agendas, but Melton said he's always had Republican support necessary to pass bills he's introduced, a necessity with a Republican-controlled Senate.
  "I'm going to do my best to find areas to agree with and do my best for Pontiac schools, but obviously not holding a gavel makes a difference," he said. "I'll do my best to advocate for our kids and schools and find reforms we can agree to."
  Melton noted that in Oakland County, there were 15,000 more straight-ticket Republican voters this election than Democrats.
  "He had coattails," Melton said of Snyder’s win. "People were going to vote Republican no matter what.
  "I hope he reaches out to some Democrats for his cabinet," Melton said. "I think it would be a good tone for him to set. Republicans don't have all the good ideas, neither do the Democrats."

State Senate
  Republicans controlled the state Senate before Tuesday's election and their margin only got bigger.
Republicans held a 22-16 margin going into the election and came out with four more seats, including one taken from a Democrat representing Oakland County.
  In Senate District 26, which represents parts of Genesee County and the Oakland County communities of Groveland, Brandon, Springfield and Waterford townships, Republican Dave Robertson defeated Democrat Paula Zelenko, 49,701 to 36,231.
  The seat had been held by Sen. Deborah Cherry, who could not run again because of term limits.
Robertson is from Genesee County's Grand Blanc Township.

County Commission
  Heading into Tuesday's election, Republicans and Democrats each held 12 seats on the commission with one open seat.
  But Republicans knocked off two Democrat incumbents and picked up the open seat to boost their majority to 15-10, making it unlikely that Democrats can affect policy priorities for the next two years.
  Republican Bill Dwyer defeated incumbent Commissioner Steven Scwhartz 9,465 to 8,872 in District 14, representing Farmington and the west half of Farmington Hills.
  In District 19, representing Troy and Clawson, Republican Mike Bosnic defeated incumbent Commissioner Tim Burns, D-Clawson, 9,673 to 7,993.
  In the open seat in District 8, representing Lyon Township, Wixom, Walled Lake and part of Novi, Republican Phillip J. Weipert defeated Democrat Michele Berry by a 2-1 margin. The seat had been held by Republican Jeff Potter who died shortly before the August primary.
  Democrats, who have gradually narrowed the GOP margin on the county commission in the last two elections, now find themselves with the same balance as existed six years ago.

A New County Clerk
  Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson's election as Michigan Secretary of State now means the county needs a new clerk.
  And it'll be up to the Oakland County Circuit Court bench to set the process for selecting her replacement, who will serve until the office is next up for election in 2012.
  "I'm not entirely sure how the judges are going to go about it," said Kevin Oeffner, Oakland County Circuit Court administrator. "Chief Judge Nancy Grant is developing a plan to take back to the bench.
  "There's no deadlines, no specific process in place; it's very open ended," he said. "Knowing Judge Grant, she'll want to make sure there's a good process in place so the judges can have qualified candidates to consider."
  One person interested in replacing Johnson as county clerk is Oakland County Commissioner Bill Bullard, R-Highland, who is the commission chairman and who just won re-election to his commission seat.
  Bullard plans to step aside as chairman in favor of Commissioner Mike Gingell, R-Lake Orion, so he can apply for clerk.
  "I'm waiting to see what the procedure is, what the process is, but I intend to participate," Bullard said. "I'm hearing some names, but I'd rather not (name them) because it's all speculation.
  "Until the judges say to submit a letter or application by such and such a date, we really won't know who the candidates are," he said.
  Rozell, the county elections director, said a vacancy on the county commission because of appointment to another office would mean the county commission would appoint a replacement until a special election could be scheduled.
  Contact Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, charlie.crumm@oakpress.com or follow him on Twitter @crummc.

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