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Michigan voters deciding on gubernatorial, congressional races

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 | 10:48 a.m. CDT

LANSING, Mich. — The seven men running for Michigan governor head into Tuesday's primary election hoping to swing enough undecided voters to make the difference in closely fought races on both sides.

Five Republicans and two Democrats also want to make sure their supporters get to the polls. The secretary of state has estimated 1.7 million voters will turn out, about 23 percent.

The candidates had full primary day schedules, with several starting on the campaign trail at dawn. All were voting Tuesday morning.

Even as the election loomed, some voters rethought their choices. Tom Shedd, a 60-year-old Republican from Albion, had a favorite until a flurry of negative ads made him reconsider.

"I'm still weighing the options at this point," he said as the primary approached.

Polls conducted last week by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA indicated the GOP race was a toss-up between Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder, Attorney General Mike Cox and U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, while Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero appeared to be leading House Speaker Andy Dillon in the Democratic race. Also running in the GOP race were Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard and state Sen. Tom George.

With 28 percent of likely Democratic voters and 14 percent of Republican ones undecided, candidates were making last-minute pitches to persuade voters they were the best choice to lead Michigan out of its economic doldrums.

Among those who already had made up their minds, a number planned to spend Tuesday campaigning for their favorites.

Joe Braswell, 32, of Detroit attended a Monday rally Dillon held at his Detroit campaign headquarters and said he decided to help out after Service Employees International Union members passed out flyers supporting Dillon in his neighborhood.

Naomi Choice attended the same rally and said she likes Dillon's ideas about creating jobs and building on the success of Michigan's top-notch universities.

"I think he has more of a vision," the 35-year-old Detroit resident said of the House leader. "He listens more to the people — the people who are actually suffering."

Bernero also spoke to his union backers Monday with rallies at union halls in Flint, Midland and Lansing. He hoped the ads they've run promoting him and the union phone banks urging members get to the polls will mean victory Tuesday night.

Snyder crisscrossed the state Monday to make sure he'd be on the evening news in the state's five major television markets and held Monday night rallies, as did Bouchard and Cox. Most candidates continued to air campaign ads in a final, frenzied rush.

Voters also had contested congressional races to settle Tuesday in many parts of the state.

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick faced a crowded primary in the 13th District Democratic primary, with five challengers eager to make the race about the legal troubles of her imprisoned son, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Races also were crowded with candidates hoping to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak of Menominee in the 1st District and GOP U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers of Grand Rapids in the 3rd District. Both incumbents decided not to seek re-election.

A number of Republicans were running for the 2nd District congressional seat Hoekstra is vacating to run for governor, and to take on freshmen Democratic Reps. Mark Schauer of Battle Creek in the 7th District and Gary Peters of Oakland County's Bloomfield Township in the 9th District in November. The two incumbents didn't have any primary challengers.


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