(March 9) The largest void in the state House in years — four open seats — was largely filled on March 8, the day of the Presidential Primary, when special elections in the 75th, 80th, and 82nd districts produced three new legislators.
Two Republicans were chosen by voters to choose departed GOP lawmakers Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, and a Democrat was chosen to replace former state Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids), who resigned last year to become Michigan Democratic Party chairman.
That means the House now consists of 63 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and one vacancy in the solidly Democratic 28th district, where freshman Derek Miller resigned last month to become Macomb Co. Treasurer. The 28th won’t be filled until a special election later this year.
On Tuesday, March 8, Mary Whiteford of Casco Township won with 64% of the vote against her Democratic opponent in the heavily Republican 80th district flanking Lake Michigan. She replaces Gamrat.
In the 82nd district, attorney/farmer/school board member Gary Howell of North Branch in Lapeer County beat his Democratic opponent, 59%-37%. Howell replaces Courser.
In the 75th district, David LaGrand, an attorney and former Grand Rapids city commissioner, clobbered his Republican opponent, 77.5%-22.5%. LaGrand replaces Dillon.
Practically speaking, this means it now takes 55 votes to pass a bill in the House for most of the rest of the year instead of the 56 required if the 28th district was also filled and we had a “full house.” But that’s better than when only 54 votes were required to pass a bill during most of the past five months because there were only 106 or 107 members.