By Bruce Walker
The Center Square

https://www.thecentersquare.com/

The November election is promising to feature some of the most bitterly contested partisan races both nationally and statewide.

Michigan is once again identified as a key battleground state after narrowly granting President Donald Trump a victory over former U.S. senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“Michigan is a battleground of national importance on several fronts, which is why the national media is paying such close attention to us, even after the veepstakes concluded with Senator [Kamala] Harris' selection,” John Sellek, founder and CEO of Harbor Strategic Public Affairs, told The Center Square.

Sellek was referring to the highly anticipated announcement by former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden his choice of Harris as his vice presidential running mate, ending months of speculation he might choose Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the spot.

Pollster FiveThirtyEight places Biden ahead of Trump in Michigan by five points, Biden scored 48 against Trump’s 43, according to polling results released on Wednesday. Those numbers seem consistent with national polls.

Even closer is the race for one of Michigan’s seats in the U.S. Senate. Incumbent Gary Peters, a Democrat, is facing a close match with Republican John James, an Iraq War veteran who previously challenged Sen. Debbie Stabenaw in 2016. Of those polled by FiveThirtyEight, 48 percent favored Peters while 45 percent supported James.

“The U.S. Senate race offers Michigan a chance to have a job creator and problem solver focused on bringing back Michigan jobs with John James,” Tori Sachs, executive director of Michigan Rising Action and manager of James’ 2016 campaign, told The Center Square.

“James has been within 4 points in the last two CNBC polls and has a strong job creation record to run on compared to Gary Peters, who has spent his decade in D.C. skipping committee hearings and failing to get results for Michigan while doubling his personal wealth,” Sachs said.

“In addition to the inevitable comings and goings of the presidential race, Michigan's U.S. Senate race is drawing national attention because it is one of a few places where Republicans feel they can go on offense against an incumbent Democrat,” Selleck said.

“Examples of the attention-drawing status of the race include James matching or exceeding Peters, dollar-for-dollar, on fundraising, and Peters’ new ad featuring his ability to work with President Trump – something no Michigan Democrat expected to see in this race,“ Sellek added.

Another race too close to call is the U.S. House of Representatives matchup between Republican incumbent Fred Upton and Democrat Jon Hoadley for Michigan’s Sixth District seat. FiveThirtyEight currently gives the edge to Hoadley by a margin of four points, 40 points to Upton’s 36 points.

According to Sellek, however, Upton “is running an energetic, strong campaign … in a fight that national Democrats were hoping would be easier for them.”

Sellek also noted there’s also a tight race in Michigan’s Third District after Independent Rep. Justin Amash announced his decision not to run for reelection. Vying for Amash’s seat in Congress are Republican Peter Meijer and Democrat Hillary Scholten.

The Michigan state House also is under serious contention. Although Republican lawmakers have held onto a majority for 10 years, Democrats have to win four seats while retaining their current 52 seats in November to upset the current balance.

“Republicans are working to retain control of the statehouse which is important to hold Gov. Whitmer accountable and stop her 45-cent gas tax or any other new tax increases as Michigan recovers from the COVID crisis,” Sachs said.

“The fight for control of the Michigan House of Representatives is a major focus for Governor Whitmer,” Sellek said. “I suspect we will see an increase in activity from her now that the veepstakes are over and she seeks to have more leverage over the last two-years of her term heading into reelection in 2022. There will be an all-out slugfest in key Republican seats for majority control, especially in Oakland County.”