Chairman’s Corner by Scott McGraw

There were some surprises on Tuesday afternoon, April 24, at the Kalamazoo County Clerk’s office. That was the filing deadline for the 2018 elections. Each year I spend a few hours down at the clerk’s office, waiting for the last-minute filers (which there always seems to be). Every other year, it is the partisan elections with county commission, state representatives and alternating between some of the four-year terms with president, governor, the countywide elected, etc. On the off years, I can get excited about the non-partisan races in the cities – mainly Kalamazoo and Portage.

Some of the surprises came in the state elected offices. We knew going into the week that State Sen. Margaret O’Brien was being challenged by her opponent from four years ago, Democrat Sean McCann. But what surprised me was that we learned former Republican and current Libertarian Lorence Wenke would throw his hat into the ring again, making it a three-way race for the senate seat.

If you remember, Margaret won by 59 votes on election day. Actually, it was the day after the election and we learned of her victory in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. It was an exciting time that we celebrated for not only Margaret, but the KGOP. That is a very key seat for our county and also for the state. But then her opponent requested a recount and we all held our collective breath. After three long days of recounting, the margin became 61 votes and Margaret was our senator.

That was an election for the ages – Margaret and Sean each raised more than $1 million locally and state sources threw in another $4 to $6 million for both sides. I believe it was the most expensive legislator race in Michigan history. Margaret was the hardest-working person I have ever seen in a campaign.

Stay tuned for round two. Margaret is already burning the candle at both ends. If there were a third or fourth end, she would be burning that, too. I’ve been out knocking doors with Margaret already this year. In fact, there was snow on the ground the first time we went out. She is an amazing and dedicated campaigner and we all need to rally around her again this year.

That election was bittersweet, though. We lost majority control of the county commission with the loss of District 10 in Portage. Stan Runyon lost by 70 votes out of approximately 10,000 to Larry Provancher. He left the victory party when we thought his race was won only to find out the absentee votes had not been counted yet. Equally disappointing was our loss two years later in the same district when Jerry Whitaker lost by a smaller margin of 46 votes to Mike Quinn.

This year, we have Nasim Ansari and Steve Carra each throwing their hats in the ring. So we will have a Republican primary in the 10th District. Both are good candidates and dedicated Republicans. I wish them the best for this campaign. One of them needs to carry the ball over the goal line in November as Mike Quinn is running as the Democrat incumbent.

The other big surprise on filing day was another Republican primary. I knew the 63rd District for the state house had a primary since Paul Foust filed a couple months ago against incumbent David Maturen. But Paul filed for the waiver, so I didn’t think there would be much of a race. However, Matt Hall filed on the day of deadline and it’s going to be a different primary election.

Matt is pretty well known in the district as he went to WMU for his undergraduate degree. He just moved to Marshall, which is in the 63rd. David is a well-like legislator in the area and served for a long time on the county commission. Stay tuned on this one, as well.