Today is a Super Tuesday, of sorts. Both Michigan and Kansas are holding gubernatorial primaries, in addition to a slew of open House seat races. Of particular interest are the Republican and Democratic primaries for Michigan governor. With Gov. Jennifer Granholm limited to two terms by the state constitution, and Lt. Gov. John Cherry unwilling to run, Democrats have had a hard time finding someone to carry the standard. At present, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and House Speaker Andy Dillon are vying for the Democratic nomination, with Bernero leading by 8 points.
The Republican primary is a little more complicated. Struggling for the nomination are Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder, and Attorney General Mike Cox. Statewide polls released last week by pollster EPIC-MRA show Snyder in the lead with 26 percent of the vote, followed closely by Cox and Hoestrka, with 24 percent and 23 percent, respectively. Snyder trails his competitors among self-described conservatives but makes up for it with high support among liberals and independents. Michigan is an open primary state, and high turnout among independents and Democrats could carry Snyder to victory.
Of course, Republicans are well-positioned to win in November regardless of the outcome of the primary contest. Granholm and the state Democratic Party are deeply unpopular with Michigan's voters, thanks mostly to the miserable economy. Since her election in 2002, Gov. Granholm has had the misfortunate of presiding over a harsh recession, the collapse of the auto industry, and a near depression. When she was elected, unemployment was at a manageable 5.8 percent. That jumped to 7.5 when she entered office the following January, and remained within those two bounds until July of 2008, when unemployment jumped to 9 percent. Since then, the economy has worsened dramatically; in June, unemployment was at a staggeringly high 13.1 percent.
While nothing is set in stone -- Democrats have a non-zero possibility of victory -- it's very likely that state Republicans will walk away from 2010 with solid control of the governor's mansion, and a firm hand on the redistricting process for 2011.
-- Jamelle Bouie