Special Elections, Democrats Want to Take Over the Michigan House, Which is Currently Tied

Special Elections, Democrats Want to Take Over the Michigan House, Which is Currently Tied

LANSING, Mich.— In two special elections on Tuesday, Democrats are trying to win back control of the state government and a majority in the Michigan House, which is currently tied.

In District 13, Democrats Mai Xiong and Ronald Singer are running against each other, and in District 25, Democrats Peter Herzberg and Josh Powell are running against each other. Both districts are just outside of Detroit and are highly Democratic. In 2022, the Democrats who were in office won by more than 25 percentage points.

The number of Democrats and Republicans in the lower house has been tied 54–54 since November when two Democrats resigned after winning mayoral races in their hometowns. Before, Democrats were in charge of the governor’s office and had a majority in both houses of Congress.

“These special elections will decide who runs the House in Michigan. They will also set the tone for November when we will decide if Democrats keep the state House,” said Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.

In the 2022 election, Democrats won a trifecta for the first time in 40 years. They took over both houses of Congress and the governor’s office. They moved quickly to undo decades of Republican policies and carry out the party’s plans in their first year, which included changing the state’s gun rules.

Since the House couldn’t agree on anything, Republicans have been pushing to pass bills that they say have support from both parties. One example is a government openness package that would let people ask for public records from the Legislature and the governor’s office. However, not many laws have been passed. Democrats have refused to agree to a joint power-sharing plan that Republican House Leader Matt Hall has put forward several times in the last few months.

If both Democrats win on Tuesday, the party will be in charge again until the end of the year. In November, every House seat will be up for reelection. To get a majority, either party would have to win both seats.

Xiong is a commissioner for Macomb County, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer backed her in the election. Singer ran against her for the seat in 2022 but lost by 34% to Lori Stone, who was then a state representative.

Herzberg, a member of the Westland City Council, will run against Powell on the 25th. Powell is a soldier who has said in his campaign that he wants less government, less rules, and lower taxes. The district was won by Democrat Kevin Coleman, who used to be a representative, by 26 percentage points in 2022.

According to Pete Hoekstra, chair of the Michigan Republican Party, Republicans “forced the candidates and Democrat committees to spend money to protect these seats.”

His words to The Associated Press said, “Win or lose, I’m more convinced than ever that Republicans are motivated and the Democrats are not.”

After Tuesday’s special elections, lawmakers will likely start working on a state budget, giving themselves until July 1 to finish it. Whitmer proposed a $81 billion budget in her January State of the State speech. This budget would pay for all high school graduates to go to community college for free and give 4-year-olds free daycare.

Recently, Democrats have also thought about making the state’s hate crime law stronger and passing a complete school safety package. This is because of the mass shooting at Oxford High School in 2021. If they had a majority in the House, it would be easier to move those ideas forward.

But lawmakers will have to work faster if the standstill ends on Tuesday. They will be taking a summer break at the end of June, and soon they will start running for re-election in their seats this fall.

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