Ballotpedia's 2012 General Election Preview Articles: Michigan Congressional Seats

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October 31, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional team

Michigan's Congressional Elections in 2012
U.S. Senate Election? U.S. House seats Possible competitive races?
Yes 14 4 (1st, 3rd, 7th & 11th)

LANSING: Michigan: Michigan has 14 U.S. House seats and one U.S. Senate seat on the ballot in 2012. All 14 U.S. House races have at least three candidates on the ballot. U.S. Senate incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) is facing five challengers on the November 6 ballot.

Five of the 14 congressional districts have Democratic incumbents, the other nine have Republican incumbents.

In Michigan, all polls will be open in the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM Central and Eastern times.[1]

Michigan is split between Eastern and Central time zones.

See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times (2012)

U.S. Senate

Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 and is seeking re-election in 2012. She ran unopposed in her party's primary on August 7th and will face five challengers in the general election on November 6th: Republican primary victor Pete Hoekstra, and four third party challengers.

The Wall Street Journal reported in late May that Republicans were feeling less sanguine about their electoral prospects in Michigan than they had been in the afterglow of the 2010 elections, when the Governor's mansion, the attorney general's seat, and both chambers in the state legislature flipped from blue to red. [2]

The New York Times race ratings has listed the Michigan U.S. Senate race listed as Leaning Democratic[3] and the Cook Political Report race ratings list the race as Likely Democratic.[4] An Rasmussen October poll favored Stabenow over Hoekstra 51%-39%. [5]

State General Election Candidates Incumbent 2012 Winner Partisan Switch?
Michigan Class 1 Senate seat Democratic Party Debbie Stabenow
Republican Party Pete Hoekstra
Libertarian Party Scotty Boman
Green Party Harley Mikkelson
Independent Richard Matkin (UST)
Independent John Litle (NLP)
Debbie Stabenow Pending Pending

U.S. House

According to the New York Times race ratings in October 2012, four of the 14 districts are considered to be in play. Those are the 1st, 3rd, 7th and 11th districts.[6]


1st Congressional District

Michigan's 1st is considered to be a Tossup according to the New York Times race ratings. Republican incumbent Dan Benishek is challenged by Gary McDowell (D) for a rematch of their 2010 bout. The district has a large number of senior citizens, which may hurt Benishek. During the previous session, Benishek voted for the Ryan budget, which has been framed as a vote to end traditional medicare. The district has become slightly more Republican following redistricting.[6]

Using the Federal Election Commission's October Quarterly campaign finance filings, the Brennan Center for Justice at The New York University School of Law published a report on October 22nd focusing on the 25 House races rated most competitive by The Cook Political Report, including the race for Michigan's 1st. The report examines the relative spending presence of non-candidate groups, candidates, and small donors in these races - "which will likely determine which party will control the House." The district was ranked 12th among 19 Republican toss-up races.[7]

3rd Congressional District

Michigan's 3rd is considered to be Leaning Republican according to the New York Times race ratings. Republican incumbent Justin Amash is challenged by Democrat Steve Pestka. Amash has been considered as "the next Ron Paul" for his libertarian policies and has clashed with Republican leadership. [6] According to Open Congress, Amash voted with the Republican Party leadership 77.2 percent of the time -- which is the fourth-lowest figure among Republican congressional members.[8]

7th Congressional District

Michigan's 7th is considered to be Leaning Republican according to the New York Times race ratings. Republican incumbent Tim Walberg was initially elected in 2006, lost the seat in 2008, and was re-elected in 2010. He will face Kurt R. Haskell (D) in the general election.[6]

FairVote did a study on partisanship in the congressional districts, giving each a percentage ranking (D/R) based on the new 2012 maps and comparing that to the old 2010 maps. Michigan's 7th District became slightly more Republican because of redistricting.[9]

The Hill published a list of the Top Ten House Members who were helped by redistricting.[10] Tim Walberg ranked 6th on the list.[10] The article notes that Tim Walberg lost the district to centrist Mark Schauer (D) in 2008. He then beat Schauer in a rematch by 5 points in 2010. The redistricting process, controlled by Republicans, made sure to cut Schauer’s home base out of the district and made it a few points more Republican.[10]

11th Congressional District

Special Election

The 11th congressional district of Michigan will hold a special election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012. The election is to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R). The primary took place on September 5, 2012, while the general election will coincide with the November 6, 2012, general election.[11]

The Special election candidates are David Curson (D) and Kerry Bentivolio (R). The general election Democratic candidate, Syed Taj, has stated that he is focusing all his efforts on the general election campaign.[12]

The special election was needed after McCotter failed to qualify for the election and then subsequently resigned his seat.

General election

Both the New York Times and Cook Political Report race ratings have listed this race as Leaning Republican.[6][13] Republican incumbent Thaddeus McCotter withdrew from his re-election campaign following a scandal over petition signatures. The following are the candidates on the November 6 ballot: Syed Taj (D), Kerry Bentivolio (R), John Tatar (L), Steven Paul Duke (G) and Daniel Johnson (NLP).

FairVote's partisanship study indicates the 11th District became more Republican because of redistricting.[9] Cook Political Report's updated figures on the Partisan Voter Index gives the 11th district a PVI of R+4, which is the 199th most Republican district in the country. In 2008, this district was won by Barack Obama (D), 51-49 percent over John McCain (R). In 2004, George W. Bush (R) won the district 56-44 percent over John Kerry (D).[14]

As of October, Democratic candidate Taj led the Republican candidate Bentivolio in fundraising efforts $627,901 to $430,042.[15]

Here is a complete list of U.S. House candidates appearing on the general election ballot in Michigan:

District General Election Candidates Incumbent 2012 Winner Partisan Switch?
1st Democratic Party Gary McDowell
Republican Party Dan Benishek
Libertarian Party Emily Salvette
Green Party Ellis Boal (write-in)
Dan Benishek Pending Pending
2nd Democratic Party Willie German, Jr. (write-in)
Republican Party Bill Huizenga
Libertarian Party Mary Buzuma
Green Party William Opalicky
Independent Ronald Graeser (UST)
Bill Huizenga Pending Pending
3rd Democratic Party Steve Pestka
Republican Party Justin Amash
Libertarian Party Bill Gelineau
Justin Amash Pending Pending
4th Democratic Party Debra Freidell Wirth
Republican Party Dave Camp
Libertarian Party John Gelineau
Green Party Pat Timmons
Independent George Zimmer (UST)
Dave Camp Pending Pending
5th Democratic Party Dan Kildee
Republican Party Jim Slezak
Libertarian Party Gregory Creswell
Independent David Davenport
Dale E. Kildee Pending Pending
6th Democratic Party Mike O'Brien
Republican Party Fred Upton
Libertarian Party Christie Gelineau
Independent Jason Gatties
Fred Upton Pending Pending
7th Democratic Party Kurt R. Haskell
Republican PartyTim Walberg
Libertarian Party Ken Proctor
Green Party Richard Wunsch
Tim Walberg Pending Pending
8th Democratic Party Lance Enderle
Republican Party Mike Rogers
Libertarian Party Daniel Goebel
Independent Preston Brooks
Mike Rogers Pending Pending
9th Democratic Party Sander Levin
Republican Party Don Volaric
Libertarian Party Jim Fulner
Green Party Julia Williams
Independent Les Townsend (UST)
Gary Peters Pending Pending
10th Democratic Party Chuck Stadler
Republican Party Candice Miller
Libertarian Party Bhagwan Dashairya
Candice Miller Pending Pending
11th Democratic Party Syed Taj
Republican Party Kerry Bentivolio
Libertarian Party John Tatar
Green Party Steven Paul Duke
Independent Daniel Johnson (NLP)
Thaddeus McCotter Pending Pending
12th Democratic Party John D. Dingell
Republican Party Cynthia Kallgren
Libertarian Party Richard Secula
Sandy Levin Pending Pending
13th Democratic Party John Conyers, Jr.
Republican Party Harry T. Sawicki
Libertarian Party Chris Sharer
Independent Martin Gray (UST)
Hansen Clarke Pending Pending
14th Democratic Party Gary Peters
Republican Party John Hauler
Libertarian Party Leonard Schwartz
Green Party Douglas Campbell
John Conyers, Jr. Pending Pending
15th District Removed in Redistricting John D. Dingell, Jr. Pending Pending
Members of the U.S. House from Michigan -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 6 5
     Republican Party 9 9
Total 15 14
 Congressional Redistricting Map, approved August 2011 

For more information, view Redistricting in Michigan.


See also