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SW Michigan Congressional & State House Races

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Sehvilla Mann
/
WMUK

Voters in Kalamazoo County and Southwest Michigan are deciding races for Congress and the State House.

WMUK and the Kalamazoo Gazette asked Kalamazoo City Commissioner Erin Knott and former Kalamazoo County Republican Party chairperson Dave Worthams for their perspectives on the campaigns. Knott is the executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Michigan. Worthams serves on Equality Michigan's board and works as a lobbyist in Lansing for the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

6th Congressional District

The race in the district that includes Kalamazoo and most of Southwest Michigan has a veteran Republican congressman facing a Democratic challenger from the Michigan House of Representatives. Fred Upton of Saint Joseph has been a member of Congress since 1986. Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo is finishing is final two-year term in the State House.

The polling website Five Thirty-Eight has Upton "favored" to win November 3. But Knott says a "blue wave" for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden could boost Hoadley's chances. She says Upton and Republicans are "on the defensive." Worthams says polls showing Hoadley trailing Upton are mostly with their margins of error. And with a large number of people voting early, Worthams thinks that could give the Democratic challenger an advantage.

Also running in the Sixth District are Libertarian Jeff Depoy and Green Party candidate John Lawrence.

60th State House District

This district has been a "safe" seat for Democrats for decades. But the seat is open this time because current Representative Jon Hoadley can't run again because of term limits. And there's a possibility that the Democratic vote could be split. That's because of of a write-in campaign by Kalamazoo County Commissioner Stephanie Moore. She lost the Democratic primary to another Kalamazoo County commissioner, Julie Rogers, who is the party's nominee. Gary Mitchell is the GOP candidate in the district that includes the City of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township.

Worthams and Knott say they think Rogers still has a big advantage and they don't think Moore's write-in effort will "flip" the district Republican. But Worthams says Moore has run an impressive, well-funded campaign telling supporters how to write her name in when they cast their ballots.

61st State House District

This contest is also for an open seat. Current Repreentative Brandt Iden, a Republican, can't run again because of Michigan's term limits law. Fellow Republican Bronwyn Haltom is hoping to replace him in Lansing. The former Trump administration official faces Democrat Christine Morse, a Kalamazoo County commissioner.

The Gongwer News Service (login required) says the district is among those that could change parties. Worthams says the race is likely to become the most expensive among the 110 State House districts. He and Knott say winning the 61st District is critical to Democratic plans to either take the majority in the House, or at least achieve parity with Republicans.

62nd State House District

In this district, which includes the City of Battle Creek, incumbent first-term Democrat Jim Haadsma has a rematch with Republican Dave Morgan. Morgan ran unsiccessfully in the district as a Democrat in 2014. He also ran a losing race in the neighboring 63rd District in 2010.

Both Knott and Worthams say they think Haadsma will win a second term because of name recognition and party support in Lansing.

63rd State House District

Republican Matt Hall of Emmett Township is seeking re-election. He faces Democrat Luke Howell, Libertarian Rafael Wolf, and Green Party nominee John Anthony La Pietra. The district covers parts of Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties.

Worthams and Knott say Hall should not have much trouble winning a new term. In part that's because Howell is running a "no money" campaign.

66th State House District

Republican incumbent Beth Griffin faces a Democratic challenge by Mattawan Village Council member Abigail Wheeler. Knott and Worthams say Griffin is likely to win despite a strong campaign by Wheeler. They give Griffin the edge because of name recognition and because the district in Van Buren County and a small area of Kalamazoo County is solidly "red." Candidates for the 66th state House district (along with 6th Congressional District Democratic candidate Jon Hoadley) participated in a candidate forum on October 20, 2020 in South Haven. It was sponsored by the South Haven affilidate of the American Association of University Women. 

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.