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February 24th, 2024         Len’s Political Note #624 Michigan House of Representatives

2024                                      General Election is an internet tool. If you are looking for the same thing I am looking for – where to give money that will have leverage, can help.

For instance, in my afterwards section of Len’s Political Note #623 about Carl Marlinga, running for Michigan’s 10th Congressional District, I suggested you consider making donations to Carl Marlinga, Curtis Hertel and Kirsten McDonald Rivet for Michigan’s 10th, 7th and 8th Congressional Districts.

If I had as a tool, I might have suggested you consider state legislature candidates in Michigan as well.  Michigan’s state legislature is excruciatingly close.  The State Senate has 20 Democrats and 18 Republicans and no scheduled elections until 2026.  The State House of Representatives has 54 Democrats and 54 Republicans and 2 vacancies.  You don’t get closer than that.

Michigan HD 13 and 25 are vacant.  The primaries have already happened.  The special elections are scheduled for April 16.  The Democratic candidate for HD 13 is Macomb County Commissioner Mai Xiong.  The Democratic candidate for HD 25 is Westland City Council President Peter Hertzberg.  Both are likely to get elected without my asking you to donate money to them.  After April 16, the Democrats should have a 56-54 majority in the Michigan House.

There is some uncertainty about what the Michigan legislative map will look like when Michiganders vote in November.  Legislative redistricting has history in Michigan.  By referendum, Michigan chose to create a new body for redistricting – an independent commission some of whose members were chosen by lot.

That Commission created the maps used in the 2022 election.  In December, 2023, the federal district court for Western Michigan ruled that the Commission had unconstitutionally relied on race for redistricting and eliminated majority Black districts.  The court insisted that districts be revised for the 2024 elections.  We will see if that actually happens and what the districts will look like if it happens.

Today’s piece is about November and assumes the districts as they are currently configured. tells us they can identify six candidates for whom donations could have a big impact.  Four are incumbents.  Keeping incumbent in office is crucial.  Two are challenging incumbents.  It would be great to expand the size of the Democratic majority in Michigan’s House of Representatives.  Donate to these candidates.  A little goes a long way.

Four incumbents

:MIHD27 35 year old Incumbent Jaime Churches represents a Downriver district south/southwest of Detroit.  The district, which borders the Detroit River includes several islands.  Among its towns are Wyandotte, Southgate, and Grosse Ile.   Born in Georgia, Jaime Churches was raised Downriver.  She earned her BS and MS in education from Madonna University in Livonia, west of Detroit.  She went to Grosse Ile High School and had been teaching fifth grade in Grosse Ile from 2018 to 2022 when she was elected.

Jaime Churches decided to run for office after asking her fifth graders to write about their dreams.  If you could do anything, what would you do and why?  She answered that question for herself.  She would represent the parents of these children in the legislature.  In her 2020 election, she got slightly more than 50% of the vote, winning by 660 votes.

Effective in fund raising, she raised $420,000.  She was endorsed by teachers’ associations, by unions like the carpenters, by conservation organizations and by Planned Parenthood.  She was president of her local union, is committed to investment in education and serves as Vice Chair of the House Education Committee.  Other priorities include infrastructure, health care, and the environment.  Bob Howey, who she defeated in 2022, was a city council member for Trenton. Owner of RJ Howey Inc, he describes himself as a master craftsman.  He us active in duck hunting and supporting ice hockey.

It is too early to know who will be opposing her in 2024. We know there will be opposition.  In 2023, as a result of her voting in favor of a bill to “expand the definition of hate crimes to include violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, age and disability,” she was one of five women legislators subject to a recall effort.  The Michigan Board of Canvassers rejected the recall petition, preventing it from being put before the voters. rates the leverage in donating to Jaime Churches at 9.9 on their 10 point scale.  DONATE TO JAIME CHURCHES. Keep the Democratic majority in Michigan’s House of Representatives.

MIHD33 Jim Haadsma lost his first race to represent Battle Creek and nearby cities and towns in south central Michigan in 2016. The incumbent defeated him by 209 votes. By 2018, the incumbent was gone.  Jim Haadsma defeated the Republican candidate by 1,137 votes – a close 3.5% victory.  He defeated Town Supervisor and owner of several properties in Michigan and Arizona Dave Morgan again in 2020 by 1,080 votes and again in 2022 by 1,376 votes.  He won the last election raising about $260,000.

Jim Haadsma was raised in Africa by missionaries.  He returned to Michigan to go to school – Michigan State and Wayne State Law School.  He was in the Battle Creek office of the McCrosky Law firm that also had offices in Muskegon and Grand Rapids.  He married, had four children, served as a County Commissioner, and immersed himself in good works as well as in his law practice.  Among the local boards he served on were an art center, the Salvation Army, the Urban League, the NAACP, and Battle Creek Pride.

Chair of the Labor Committee and Chair of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Jim Haadsma is a respected figure in the legislature.  He sees his priorities as strengthening the state’s economy, ensuring that every child gets an excellent education, and fixing the state’s infrastructure which has been badly neglected.  Will David Morgan run again?  I have no idea. rates the leverage for donations to Jim Haadsma at 9.6 on a scale of 10.  DONATE TO JIM HAADSMA

MIHD61. Denise Mentzer was elected in 2022 to represent this district which is based in Mount Clemens in Macomb County north of Detroit.  She is a local.  Daughter of a man who became a Detective Lieutenant in the County Sheriff’s office, she went to the magnet alternative L’Anse Creuse High, worked full time while getting a business degree from Baker College, and got herself involved in city issues – working for the city as a buyer and then considering elective office.  She was elected to the City Commission in 2013.  As a candidate for the state House of Representatives and now as a member of the legislature, she describes her priorities as affordable access to health (including women’s reproductive health), access to trade school and/or college education, ensuring the safety of their water infrastructure, and keeping good paying jobs in Michigan.

After ten years on the Mount Clemens City Commission, she turned to the state legislature and statewide as well as local matters.  She has been vice-chair of the Labor Committee and has sponsored bills addressing work related safety.  She was elected in 2022 by a 52-48 margin, defeating Mike Aiello who argued for school choice, prohibition of teaching Critical Race Theory, prohibition of mask mandates, and greater freedom for businesses.  If Mike Aiello is not the Republican candidate again in 2024, she will probably face someone with similar views.  DONATE TO DENISE MENTZER. describes the leverage from donations as 9.6 on their 10 point scale.

MIHD58 Nate Shannon is in his third term in the Michigan House of Representatives.  He is a former city councilor and a former high school teacher of economics, government, and history at L’Ance Creuse High School.  He was first elected in 2018 by a 54-46 margin.  He was reelected in 2020 and 2022 by margins of 53-47 and 51-49.  He currently serves as Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

A son of two teachers, he has mastered an important skill for a teacher and anybody else — presenting his point simply and clearly.  It would be too much to review all the positions he takes for the public to see on his website. Here are two of his areas of interest.

He tells the public he has sponsored or cosponsored education-related bills to

  • Repeal the third grade reading retention law.
  • Create a school supplies tax holiday one weekend a year.
  • Modify teacher performance evaluations.
  • Provide increased funding for K-12 public education.

He tells the public he has sponsored or cosponsored infrastructure-related bills to

  • Modify the Michigan state transportation fund formula to ensure a more balanced spread of monies spent to maintain and repair roads.
  • Support that expansion of broadband to more parts of the state.
  • Increase the number of electric charging stations across the state.

A legislator or a teacher who speaks and writes in clear plain English is invaluable. describes the leverage of a donation to Nate Shannon as 10 on a scale of 10.  DONATE TO NATE SHANNON.

Democratic Challengers

MIHD55. Trevis Harrold wants to represent this district in Oakland County – west of Macomb County and north of Wayne County. The district includes Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township.  Trevis Harrold is running to replace Republican Mark Tisdel who replaced Democrat Felicia Brabec in 2020 who replaced Democrat Rebekah Warren.  Before redistricting,  MIHD55 was solidly Democratic.  Now it has become a swing district.

Trevis Harrold was moved to run because of how the incumbent voted.  Tisdel’s opposed tax cuts for working people and retirees, opposed gun safety legislation, and to opposed repealing the 1931 statute that outlaws abortion under any circumstance.

Trevis Harrold was born and raised in Saginaw and went to Eastern Michigan University where, as he says it,  he played some football.  At the University of Michigan, where he earned a Master’s Degree, he won a Ford School of Public Policy Fellowship. He joined the US Army Reserve, served as an officer, and provided support to several different US Embassies around the world. describes the leverage of a donation to Trevis Harrold as 9.6 on a scale of 10.  DONATE TO TREVIS HARROLD.

MIHD54. Shadia Martini wants to represent this T shaped district between Rochester

Hills and Pontiac.  She is running again to oppose Republican Donni Steele who defeated her in 2022 by a margin of 51-49.  Born in Aleppo Syria, Shadia Martini earned a degree in architectural engineering at the University of Aleppo and eventually returned to teach there.

After winning and then completing research in Austria, she left for the United States, having decided she would not return to Hafez al-Assad’s Syria.  In Michigan she became an entrepreneur.  She now owns a real estate brokerage, a construction company, and a medical spa.  She has become an advocate for refugees who have escaped the Syrian dictatorship.

Foreign policy associated with constituent connections sometimes becomes an issue in state legislatures.  Republican Donni Steele was critical of the Michigan legislature’s refusing to vote to support Israel in the Gaza conflict.  Addressing this conflict is complicated for Michigan Democrats.  Michigan has the highest concentration of Arab-Americans in the country.  Detroit State Senator Sylvia Santana, for instance, was criticized by and apologized to Arab-American constituents after making a supportive visit to Israel.

So far, Shadia Martini has been able to focus on urging improvements to Michigan’s economy, support for education, gun safety, and reproductive freedom.  So far, Shadia Martini has retained her middle east focus on Syria and Syrians.  Recently, she has been raising money to support eye surgery for children who are refugees from Syria. describes the leverage of a donation to Shadia Martini as a 9.6 on a scale of 10.  DONATE TO SHADIA MARTINI

Don’t forget those three Michigan Congressional races. 

Three Michigan Congressional races – Let’s win all three

Michigan 07.  Had Incumbent Elissa Slotkin been the candidate, she would have been #29 on Len’s list of Vulnerable Democratic Incumbents.  Curtis Hertel makes the seat more vulnerable than that.  Daily Kos’s List makes Michigan 07 #1 among vulnerable Democratic seats. As of October 1, Curtis Hertel had $600,000 available for campaigning; Tom Barrett was not far behind with $400,000.  DONATE TO CURTIS HERTEL See Len’s Political Note #601


Michigan 08. Had Incumbent Dan Kildee been the candidate, he would have been #37 on Len’s list of Vulnerable Democratic Incumbents.  Kristen McDonald Rivet (If she proves to be the Democratic nominee) will be more vulnerable than that. DONATE TO KRISTEN MCDONALD RIVET. Help keep this seat Democratic.  See Len’s Political Note #617

Michigan 10. Republican John James, seeking his third term in the House of Representatives, is #3 on Len’s List of Vulnerable Republican incumbents.  As with MI 08, it is hard to know who will be the Democratic candidate and the August 6 primary is a long way off.  I suggest assuming that the 2022 Democratic candidate will be renominated.  Former county judge Carl Marlinga is a blue-collar Democrat, but with little in the way of resources, he came very close to winning against the scion of a wealthy African American family, DONATE TO CARL MARLINGA. See Len’s Political Note #623

The Michigan Senate race

This is an open seat, available as a result of the retirement of Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow’s retirement.  Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin is a former CIA Agent and the daughter of the family that brought the Detroit Tigers and the country Ballpark Franks.  In the CIA she was fluent in Arabic and Swahili.  After her service she became acting assistant secretary of defense for international security.  In Congress, she was known as a moderate and for her bipartisan efforts.  In general, she earned her moderate status on international and defense issues.  Otherwise, she supported gun safety, LGBT rights, and other Democratic issues.

Elissa Slotkin entered 2024 with $6 million available for her campaign, having already spent $5.5 million.  Of the five Republicans who want to be her opponent, businessman Sandy Pensler and former Congressman Michael Rogers each began the year with about $1 million and were well ahead of the other candidates.  January polls found her ahead of most Republicans by a point or two.  The one candidate she trailed, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, has dropped out of the race. Help her maintain her lead.  DONATE TO ELISSA SLOTKIN.  See Len’s Political Note #589


Michigan Supreme Court

Michigan’s Supreme court has seven members – 4 Democrats and 3 Republicans.  In 2024, one Democrat and one Republican will be up for election.  The two are Republican David Viviano and Democrat Kyara Harris Bolden.   There will be more to say when we know who else is running for Michigan’s Supreme Court.


Support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

As we look toward November, 2024, Help sustain the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris campaign.  Put things in perspective.  In a February poll, Biden led by a point.  In five other February polls, Trump has led Biden by as little as 2 points, as much as 8.   Every donation, large or small, does make a difference.  Larger donations mean more money for the campaign.  But many in the media count the number of small donations as a measure of enthusiasm for the candidate.  Make a small donation if you cannot afford a large one.  DONATE TO JOE BIDEN AND KAMALA HARRIS. ‘  See Len’s Political Note #605

#8 in the Stephenson County, IL list of Biden accomplishments:  Capped prescription drug prices at $2,000 per year for seniors on Medicare through the Inflation Reduction Act.