Michigan incumbents triumph easily

Republicans poised to keep control of state Supreme Court


DETROIT — Mich­i­gan voted as ex­pected for Pres­i­dent Obama Tues­day, giv­ing him an eas­ier-than-ex­pected vic­tory over na­tive son Mitt Rom­ney.

With al­most two-thirds of the vote counted, Mr. Obama had 1,674,792 votes to 1,391,227 for Mr. Rom­ney, the son of George Rom­ney, a pop­u­lar three-term gov­er­nor of Mich­i­gan in the 1960s.

Dem­o­crats also cel­e­brated the vic­tory of U.S. Sen. Deb­bie Stabe­now, who won a third term by trounc­ing Re­pub­li­can Pete Hoek­stra, a for­mer con­gress­man from West Mich­i­gan, 1,782,568 to 1,163,155.

Few changes were ex­pected in Mich­i­gan’s con­gres­sio­nal del­e­ga­tion. U.S. Rep. Tim Wal­berg (R., Tip­ton) whose 7th Dis­trict in­cludes Mon­roe, Lenawee, and Hills­dale coun­ties, was eas­ily de­feat­ing Dem­o­crat Kurt Has­kell, by 55 per­cent to 42 per­cent.

Most of the state’s other in­cum­bents were also re-elected, but in Mich­i­gan’s First Dis­trict, which in­cludes the en­tire Up­per Pen­in­sula, fresh­man Re­pub­li­can Dan Ben­ishek was locked in a cliff­hanger with Dem­o­crat Gary McDow­ell, with the lead re­peat­edly chang­ing hands and only a few hun­dred votes sep­a­rat­ing both men.

Re­pub­li­cans, how­ever, seemed poised to keep con­trol of the Mich­i­gan Supreme Court by a 4-3 mar­gin. In­cum­bent GOP Justice Brian Zahra eas­ily de­feated She­lia John­son, 51 per­cent to 40 per­cent, for a par­tial term.

His Re­pub­li­can col­league, Ste­phen Mark­man, seemed well on the way to win­ning an­other eight-year term on the court, as did a Dem­o­crat, Brid­get Mary McCor­mack. Two other chal­leng­ers, Re­pub­li­can Col­leen O’Brien and Dem­o­crat Con­nie Kel­ley, trailed.

Dem­o­crats also were mak­ing gains in the Mich­i­gan House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, where they be­gan the night trail­ing 64 seats to 46 seats. It seemed un­likely, how­ever, that they could gain the 10 seats they would need to win con­trol of the lower house.

In area races, Dem­o­crat Bill LaVoy, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Mon­roe Pub­lic Ac­cess Cable Tele­vi­sion, had a solid lead of 62-38 per­cent over Republican Anne Ros­sio in the nor­mally Demo­cratic 17th Dis­trict, which in­cludes the city of Mon­roe.

In the 56th House dis­trict, which in­cludes south­west­ern Mon­roe County, in­cum­bent GOP leg­is­la­tor Dale Zorn of Ida had 60 per­cent of the vote to 40 per­cent for Dem­o­crat Larry Crider, with more than half the pre­cincts in.

In the neigh­bor­ing 57th dis­trict, in­cum­bent Re­pub­li­can Nancy Jen­kins had a lead over Dem­o­crat Jim Ber­ry­man, a for­mer state sen­a­tor, with less than half the vote in.

In the 58th House dis­trict, in­cum­bent Re­pub­li­can Ken­neth Kurtz of Cold­wa­ter eas­ily beat Dem­o­crat Ama­ryl­lis Tho­mas. Mr. Kurtz had 70 per­cent with two-thirds of the vote counted.

Dem­o­crats had hoped to de­feat House Speaker Jase Bol­ger (R., Mar­shall) af­ter an elec­tion-rig­ging scan­dal, but the speaker pre­vailed in a close vote. How­ever, he still faces pos­si­ble in­dict­ment by a cur­rently sit­ting one-woman grand jury.

Re­pub­li­cans also con­trol the Mich­i­gan Senate, 26-12, but the state’s up­per house do not face the vot­ers un­til 2014.

— Jack Les­sen­berry