Jun 2, 2008

Michigan pundit says Democrats will keep control of the House in November

Bill Ballanger, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, reaffirmed the prediction he made last January that Democrats will retain control of the Michigan House in his latest newsletter.

Ballanger, a former Republican state Representative and Senator, put 52 seats in the Democratic ledger and 44 in the GOP side for the November General Election. He says six seats currently held by Democrats are rated as a toss up and eight Republican seats are listed as toss ups. Of the six toss up Democratic seats, four are held by incumbents, and incumbents are historically harder to unseat. All of the GOP toss up seats are open seats. There will be 45 open seats up for election this November.
The Republicans controlled the House for more than a decade, but in 2006 the Democrats won the House with a 58-52 majority.

Ballanger, one of the most respected pundits in the state, said in January the GOP will lose even more seats than they did in 2006. Since that time, however, we saw the budget mess and the brief government shutdown last October. A misguided recall attempt was made against Democratic lawmakers who voted to increase the state income tax and implement a sales tax – since repealed - on certain services that helped balance the budget and do away with a $1.8 billon budget deficit.

The recalls quickly fell by the wayside, and all the money and effort was redirected to recall House Speaker Andy Dillon. Despite spending $100,000 and illegally collecting signatures, that recall also failed.

Ballanger said the fragile 2008 campaign strategy to win back the House depends on thee things. The problem is two of the legs of that rickety stool have already been kicked out from under the Republicans.

Republican presidential nominee Grampy McSame will have to have some coattails, and we know that will not happen. However, that could be called a toss up, but he will be going against history. He also said the Dillon recall attempt needs to be on the ballot to draw attention to the tax vote.

Ballanger also said the GOP needs to recruit more female and minority candidates, and they failed again. There are currently only four female GOP House members, but they have recruited 28 this time. Their record on minority candidates remains abysmal. When I read this statistic, I thought it was a misprint. Here it is: there has not been a black GOP House member since 1902. That’s more than a 100 years.

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