News (AP) - Newcomers will be plentiful in state Legislature

By Tim Martin

Associated Press Writer

LANSING (AP) -- Michigan's term limits law is again causing massive turnover in the state Legislature.

All 148 seats for state lawmakers are on the line this year, starting with Tuesday's primary elections. Winners in the Republican and Democratic races face each other in the November general election.

Republicans now hold a 22-16 edge in the Senate while Democrats have a 65-43 advantage in the House with two vacant seats. It's likely party power structure will stay the same, but there will be plenty of newcomers to Lansing's political scene when the new Legislature convenes in 2011.

More than half the lawmakers now in the Legislature will be gone from their current seats next year, one of the largest turnovers in decades. Only nine of 38 seats in the Senate are held by an incumbent seeking re-election, along with 58 of 110 seats in the House.

Term limits is the major reason for this year's turnover, but in some cases lawmakers are abandoning their current seats in hopes of gaining a higher office. The large number of open seats prompted more than 650 candidates to get on primary ballots.

In heavily Democratic or Republican districts, the key election is often the primary. The winners in those areas dominated by one political party will be favorites in November.

Ten Democrats are seeking a Senate seat representing part of Wayne County, including current state representatives Bert Johnson of Highland Park and Bettie Cook Scott of Detroit.

State Rep. Coleman Young II, son of former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, is one of five Democrats seeking a Senate seat for part of Detroit. His competition includes former state Rep. Mary Waters, who at the filing deadline for the race was under indictment in a federal bribery case. She later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for not reporting the value of a gift, a Rolex watch, on a tax return.

State Rep. Kim Meltzer and former state lawmakers Leon Drolet and Jack Brandenburg are among the Republicans in a Senate primary for a Macomb County seat. The campaign has been nasty, with candidates accusing each other of making unwarranted personal attacks.

The state's term limits law restricts senators to two terms of four years and representatives to three terms of two years.

Published: Wed, Aug 4, 2010