A Snapshot of Michigan’s Legislative Candidates

Written by: Dom Korzecke

Primary Source : Michigan Policy Wonk, July 15, 2016.

This year there are over 400 candidates running in the primaries for one of the 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives, and 8 candidates running for the 4th district seat in the upcoming special election for the Michigan Senate which is being held on the same date. With the primaries coming up on August 2nd, we scoured the internet in an attempt to provide some details on the makeup of the candidate base. Before continuing it should be noted that some candidates have very little online presence and for this reason we were not able to include data for them in these calculations. Additionally, new candidates since the recent death of 11th district representative Julie Plawecki are not factored in.

The Michigan House of Representatives have term limits of 3 two-year sessions, so the maximum time a representative can hold office is 6 years. For this reason, 12 Democrats and 29 Republicans are ineligible for reelection this year. Additionally, Michigan Senate elections are usually held every 4 years, opposite those of presidential elections, but a recent unexpected vacancy in the District 4 Senate spot leaves an additional seat with no incumbent running.

Our focus then turns to the makeup of the primary candidates. Looking first at the House of Representatives which has 414 candidates competing for 110 seats (an average of 3.8 candidates per district). Of these candidates, 48.5 percent are Republicans, and 51 percent are Democrats. The candidates are primarily white and male. Men represent 75 percent of candidates and whites represent 85 percent.

As for current occupation, 19 percent of primary candidates currently hold positions in the legislature. Another 14 percent of candidates are employed in education, and 13.5 percent were involved with the service or sales industry. 7.5 percent of candidates came from business or finance, 5 percent came from charity or nonprofits, 4 percent were in non-elected government positions and in law firms, and 3.5 percent came from medical fields. Not included in these calculations were the 56 candidates where we could not find employment infromation.

About 38 percent of candidates have held an elected position at some point. Further, 30 percent have made a previous run for state legislator whereas only 19 percent have been successful.

There was also large variance in the online presence of candidates. As of the time of this writing, only 57.5 percent of primary candidates had a dedicated website for their campaign. Another 12 percent used a social media platform as their primary online campaign presence. This means that an astounding 30 percent of candidates had no form of online presence that they maintained.

For further information and review, we have uploaded our spreadsheet with candidate-level information here. Please let us know if you have corrections.

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Dom Korzecke
Dom Korzecke is a linked MPP student who is entering the program in the Fall of 2015. Dom's policy interests lie in the economic and financial fields and he is set to earn his bachelors degree in Economics in the Fall of 2016. Upon completion of the MPP program in the Fall of 2017, Dom is hoping to acquire a federal level government job in economic policy. Dom is a Lansing native and in his spare time enjoys taking part in the local music scene, hosting a radio show, and playing board games.