Apr 29, 2007
Although the primary election for the Michigan House is still 16 months away, the jockeying the seats has already begun with both of Livingston County’s two House seats term-limited in 2008
The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus is reporting Republican County Commissioner Steve Williams, 45, is running for the 66th District seat that will be vacated by Chris Ward, R-Brighton. The district includes the townships of Brighton, Genoa, Marion and Oceola, and the city of Brighton in Livingston County and Milford Township in neighboring Oakland County.
Williams has only been on the board since January 2005, but this will be his third attempt at the 66th District seat. He nearly unseated incumbent Rep. Judy Scranton as an unknown in the Republican primary in 2000, losing by only 721 votes. He ran again in 2002 when the seat was open because of term limits, but he dropped out before the primary when the military intelligence officer was recalled to active duty.
Williams is very conservative, and he really played on that in his race against Scranton, a rare moderate Republican and an even more rare pro-choice Republican. It’s rare in Republican-dominated Livingston County that a Republican incumbent is challenged, and Williams is the only one I can recall in the past seven years.
It’s ironic that when Ward, then the chair of the Livingston County Republican Party, ran for the open seat in 2002 there was not even a primary challenge for the seat, knowing that a primary win almost guaranteed a general election win. Some quality candidates began falling out of the race as the primary approached, including Williams, Rick Chrysler – the son of former U.S. Congressman Dick Chrysler - and former Brighton Mayor Kate Lawrence. What we got were six years of questionable ethics.
When Williams first ran for the seat, the 66th District included almost all of Livingston County. A few townships in the western part of the county were in the 67th District then held by Republican Paul DeWeese. But following the population growth in the fastest growing county in the state and the gerrymandering by the GOP, a new seat was carved out of Livingston County. Instead of making the two districts a logical east/west split of the county which most people already identified with Republicans carved out the 47 District seat by illogically cutting a big C in the county with the inside of the C being the 66th District.
When the 47th District was created, we saw a six-person primary that had a few well-known candidates that peoples knew, such as Hartland Township Supervisor Greg Bogdanski, Hamburg Township Supervisor Howard Dillman, Chair of the County Board of Commissioners Dave Domas, Daily Press & Argus editor Buddy Moorehouse, John Sheppard and Joe Hune. The unknown Hune won the primary by just two votes over Domas.
This goes back to the question of why an incumbent is never challenged in this county like they are in other places where one party dominates. Domas was well respected and able to work with a wide-range of people, and in a county that offers very little services he actually implemented a discount prescription drug program. Despite losing by a mere two votes and Hune’s very thin legislative record, Hune has never been challenged in the primary.
At this point, Williams is the only candidate that has publicly announced his intention to run, and he is the only person even rumored to be considering a run to date.