Michigan’s term limits open up opportunities for lawmakers

Michigan’s term limits open up opportunities for lawmakers

Michigan’s politicians will play one of the biggest games ever of officeholder musical chairs this year.

Besides a new governor, attorney general and secretary of state, voters will pick at least 29 new state senators and 50 state House members as term limits force some politicians out and create opportunities for others.

In Macomb County, which ushers in an executive form of government next year, this year’s elections will bring a virtual bloodbath as the sheriff and public works commissioner, both countywide politicians, vie for the executive post, and 26 commission seats shrink to 13. In one district, four Republican commissioners have filed for the same seat.

With Tuesday’s filing deadline looming, voters will get a glimmer of who will be on the Aug. 3 primary ballot, though candidates can bow out by 4 p.m. Friday. “This could be a real opportunity for people to say, ‘Let’s play politics a little differently now.’ But I suspect it will be more of the same,” said Okemos political consultant Robert Kolt.

This is the year to make a move

With 29 Senate seats soon to be vacant because of term limits — the biggest loss of incumbent senators since term limits fully kicked in in 1998 — former colleagues will take on one another. Still more politicians will give up safe seats in the state House or county commissions to seek seats that rarely are open more than once every eight years (senators can serve two four-year terms).

Don’t cry for the politicians who must leave their seats. Many still will show up on your ballot, seeking seats higher and lower. The political picture will become more clear at 4 p.m. Tuesday, the deadline for most candidates to file their intent to run for office. But state and county Web sites already are foreshadowing fierce and intriguing battles.

Macomb County

The county’s race for three Senate seats — all open because of term limits — will include familiar names.

9th District

Sen. Dennis Olshove, D-Warren, must vacate because of term limits and voters will see Frank Accavitti Jr., D-Eastpointe, who has been on the ballot in some capacity since 1994. Accavitti has served as a councilman and mayor of Eastpointe, state representative from 2002-08 and Macomb County commissioner for the past two years. Michael Ennis, a Warren Republican, also has filed for the seat.

10th District

A family dynasty will battle two well-known politicians in the district where Sen. Michael Switalski, D-Roseville, is term limited.

State Rep. Tory Rocca, R-Sterling Heights, is the son of Sal and Sue Rocca. One of the three has served almost continuously in the House since 1974.

On the Democratic side, the rumble is down to political heavyweights Carl Marlinga of Utica, the former county prosecutor, and Paul Gieleghem of Clinton Township, chairman of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners and a former state representative.

Switalski is running against U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, in the 12th District Congressional primary.

11th District

Three experienced politicians have filed for the seat of Sen. Alan Sanborn, R-Richmond, who is term limited.

Former Republican state Reps. Jack Brandenburg of Harrison Township and Leon Drolet of Macomb Township are to face off against current state Rep. Kim Meltzer of Mt. Clemens, who is forgoing a third House term to run for the Senate.

Three of the county’s nine House seats will have no incumbent running because of term limits. Two county commissioners — Ken Lampar, D-Sterling Heights, and Carey Torrice, D-Fraser — will try to make the move to the 30th and 33rd District seats respectively.

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