If Donald Trump is a drag on the Republican ticket it could become very apparent in one Southwest Michigan state House race.
Trump’s emergence as the likely Republican nominee for President has many party leaders openly concerned about what that could mean for other Republicans running for election this year.
In a blog post Gongwer News Service Editor Zach Gorchow writes that the 61st state House District in Southwest Michigan could be the bellwether of the “Trump effect” in Michigan. Gorchow says the state House race in the district that includes Portage stands out because first term Republican Representative Brandt Iden has endorsed Trump for President and will be a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Gorchow says Republican candidates may try to distance themselves from Trump, but he says Gorchow is tied to Trump “for better or for worse.”
On paper, Gorchow says, the 61st district isn’t one that the Democrats would focus on to pick up state House seats. The party made a big play in the 2014 election with an open seat and former Portage City Manager Michael Stampfler running as a Libertarian. But Democrat John Fisher, who is running again this year, only garnered 42% of the vote. Gorchow says with Iden running as an incumbent, the 61st district does not stand out as a competitive race. Gorchow says
“If John Fisher wins, Brandt Iden loses, you’re going to be hard pressed to come up with a reason, other than Donald Trump.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich carried Kalamazoo County in the March 8th primary. Trump finished third, and Gorchow says he got 25% of the vote in the 61st district. Gorchow says it’s hard to know how the 75% of Republican voters who voted for someone other than Trump in the primary will cast their ballots in the fall.
Gorchow also wrote recently about the Democrats “narrow path” to taking control of the state House. His list does not include the 61st state House district. But Gorchow says if the Democrats are winning that district, they will almost certainly take control of the state House.