Inside and outside of Oakland

Michigan U.S. Senate and House races gear up early for 2014

  Never at a loss for words, Republican L. Brooks Patterson is weighing in on two of the higher profile races on the 2014 ballot 13 months from now — U.S. Senate and the emerging battle for the 11th Congressional District.
  Both races for next year already have active campaigns working.

  The senate race is shaping up to be U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, a Bloomfield Township Democrat, against Republican Terri Lynn Land, a former secretary of state and current Republican National Committee member from Byron Center.
  Peters, 54, is in his third term in the U.S. House and is a former state lawmaker.
  Land, 55, was secretary of state for two four-year terms and is a former county clerk.
  Land has better statewide name recognition while Peters can raise as much money as he needs, Patterson, the Oakland County executive, said Friday.
  "She's held statewide office eight years, she's run two statewide elections, and I think she's got a name up on ID with the public."
   But Land's disadvantage may be a less than fiery personality.
  "The public knows her, I don't know that they're necessarily wild about her," says Patterson. "Terri's not the kind of gal that you're going to throw yourself on the sword for. She did a solid performance day-to-day as secretary of state."
  That's a disadvantage Peters may share to some degree.
  "Nobody knows who Peters is, other than the people within his confined district, so he's got a disadvantage," Patterson said. "He's not well known outstate and Terri is."
  But Peters may hold a financial edge over Land when push comes to shove during the lengthy campaign.
  "He'll be super-well funded by the unions," Patterson said. "And if Gary wants to run up a kitty of $25 million, he'll have $25 million."
  Meanwhile Democrats AND Republicans are eyeing Michigan's 11th Congressional District, spanning western Oakland and northwest Wayne counties.
  Presumably the district shifted into more Republican areas when new district boundaries took effect after the 2012 election and moved the district more into Oakland County.
  But the once-safe GOP seat became less certainly so last year when former U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter quit Congress amid an election fraud investigation of some of his staff.
  Current U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, a Milford Republican, ultimately won the two-year seat last November, but that was after efforts by some Republicans to write in an alternative GOP candidate in a regular and special primary failed.
  Some of those Republicans backing an alternative, including Patterson, ultimately backed Bentivolio in 2012 rather than concede the seat to Democrats.
  But this time, they're backing Birmingham attorney David Trott over Bentivolio, a veteran, retired teacher and reindeer farmer.
  "Bentivolio hasn't been a bad congressman," Patterson said, calling Trott a friend, campaign supporter and campaign donor.  "Nor has he been an active congressman. He went to Washington and fell in that big old black hole down there."
  Trott announced high profile endorsements earlier this week. Bentivolio countered with separate lists of more than 100 precinct delegates who are backing him, suggesting Republicans remain divided.
  Meanwhile, 39-year-old Democrat Bobby McKenzie from Canton announced he will be seeking the seat. And the political newsletter Inside Michigan Politics reported Democrat Jocelyn Benson may also be interested in running, suggesting Democrats have yet to settle their own strategy for taking the seat next year.

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