MONROE — Monroe County residents will notice changes in their congressional districts when they head to the polls Tuesday for a primary election.
Not only have their districts been redrawn, but a longtime Monroe County representative, U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D., Dearborn), won't appear on the county's ballot because his congressional district has been moved north.
Residents in both Michigan and Ohio will cast votes on Tuesday, with those in some areas of Ohio making decisions on a special election ballot. Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. in Michigan and from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. in Ohio.
In addition to other races, Michigan voters will select party nominees for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and state House races.
All three southeastern Michigan counties — Monroe, Hillsdale, and Lenawee — will be part of a single congressional district, the 7th, as the result of redistricting mandated by the U.S. Constitution after every decennial census.
That means Monroe County will join Hillsdale and Lenawee in the district now represented by Republican Tim Walberg of Tipton. The new 7th District also includes Branch, Jackson, and Eaton counties and part of Wash- tenaw County.
Appearing on the ballot against Mr. Walberg for the GOP nomination is Dan Davis of Riga Township, who ran unsuccessfully as an independent in 2010.
Mr. Walberg, 61, a former church pastor and state representative, has raised a lot of money for his re-election — far more than the other candidates, Democrat or Republican, according to records on file with the Federal Elections Commission.
Jason Sheppard, the Republican chairman of Monroe County, said he has not heard from Mr. Davis at all.
He said Mr. Walberg has been busy getting to know his new potential constituents in Monroe County.
"I would say that it's very, very good at this point [for Mr. Walberg's re-election]," Mr. Sheppard said.
He said Mr. Walberg has met with residents, business leaders, and party leaders, held town hall meetings, and walked in parades. "He's just been very active."
Mr. Walberg's committee so far in this election cycle has raised $1.3 million and spent $635,000, leaving him with $679,406 in his campaign account.
Mr. Walberg was elected in 2006 and was defeated by Democrat Mark Schauer of Battle Creek in 2008. Mr. Walberg came back in 2010 and defeated Mr. Schauer in the Republican takeover of the House, by 113,185 votes to 102,402. Calhoun County, which includes Battle Creek, is no longer part of the district, having been replaced by Monroe County.
Mr. Davis did not respond to phone calls to his campaign office. He is a former dispatcher for the Sylvania Township police and a former city of Monroe police officer.
Running on the Democratic side are Kurt Haskell of Newport and Ruben Marquez of Jackson.
Of the two, only Mr. Haskell has had to file a campaign finance report with the FEC. It shows he has $2,216 in his campaign account, having spent $10,457 as of June 30.
Mr. Haskell, 41, a lawyer, advocates converting to the gold standard and making deep cuts in military spending as two steps to ending the nation's dependence on deficit spending.
"I think it's entirely winnable and I expect to win. I'm the most qualified candidate," Mr. Haskell said, adding that his being a resident of Monroe — a new county for Mr. Walberg — gives him an edge. "I think I can take the moderate Republican votes."
Mr. Marquez, 53, is a laser technician for Eaton Corp. in Jackson, chairman of the employee union there, and chairman of the Jackson County Democratic Party.
Southeast Michigan has four state House districts, of which three have primary contests.
The most contested primary is for the Democratic nomination in the 17th House District, which includes the city of Monroe; Monroe Township north of the River Raisin; Frenchtown, Berlin, Ash, Exeter, and London townships; and Sumpter Township and Flat Rock and Rockwood in Wayne County.
Competing for the Democratic nomination are Brian David Hensley of Estral Beach, Bill LaVoy of Monroe, and Jim Pedersen of Belleville.
Mr. Pedersen, 53, is a retired United Auto Workers president at the Ford plant in Saline and has extensive union and Democratic backing for his run. He said he is running "to be a voice and a presence in Lansing for working families and retirees."
Mr. LaVoy, 44, of Monroe is executive director of Monroe Public Access Cable Television and is making his first run for public office. He said he has some union as well as business and farm organization endorsements. "I think I appeal to the broadest range of voters," he said.
Mr. Hensley, 27, a substitute teacher in Monroe County, has worked as a laborer for an automotive parts business in Rockwood. He said he chose to run to prevent more job casualties of the recession.
Mr. Hensley said the redrawn 17th House District places all the candidates on a level playing field.
"Every candidate for this race is in the same position considering there's no incumbent, no one has held office in this race before," he said. "This puts me in a unique position to get my name out there and talk with voters and try to give Michigan a fresh start."
Republican Anne Rossio, 29, of Carleton is unopposed for her party's nomination. A law school student at Wayne State University and a substitute teacher, Ms. Rossio said her interest in running was triggered by an unsuccessful effort to be appointed to a vacant seat on the Monroe school board.
"I think I have a good shot at winning the seat and I think I can really make a difference in Lansing," Ms. Rossio said.
The 56th District is the southwestern part of Monroe County, including Bedford, Dundee, Erie, Ida, LaSalle, Milan, Raisinville, Summerfield, and Whiteford townships, and part of Monroe Township.
State Rep. Dale Zorn (R., Ida), the incumbent in the 56th District, is unopposed in the primary.
Two Democrats are vying for their party's nomination to run against Mr. Zorn — Joe Astro, 61, a retired shipping/receiving clerk with Ford Motor Co., and Larry Crider, a retired police officer and sheriff's deputy, both of Dundee.
Mr. Astro is now a filmmaker. He said he has received broad support for his economic plan and called himself a John F. Kennedy Democrat.
Mr. Crider could not be reached.
State Rep. Rick Olson (R., Saline), who represents the outgoing 55th House District, is not seeking re-election.
The boundaries of the new 57th House District are the same as the old 57th — all of Lewawee County except for Cambridge Township.
Incumbent state Rep. Nancy Jenkins (R., Clayton) is unopposed on the Republican side.
Contesting on the Democratic ballot are Jim Berryman, 65, a former state senator and director with the Michigan Education Association, and Harvey Schmidt of Tecumseh, a pharmacist.
There are no primary contests for the 58th House District, which also did not change in the reapportionment.
The only candidates are Republican Kenneth Kurtz, 65, the incumbent, and Democrat Amaryllis Thomas, a retired teacher, both of Coldwater.
In the U.S. Senate election, incumbent Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, is unopposed in the primary.
Seeking the Republican nomination to run against her are Clark Durant of Grosse Pointe Farms; Gary Glenn of Midland; former Grand Rapids judge Randy Hekman, and former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland.
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.