Allegan County still red, but not so for most of Michigan

Allegan County: We like the way things are around here. Let’s keep it that way. Vote Republican.” — A winning political strategy for more than a century

Composer Gustav Mahler wrote what I believe to be the longest piece of instrumental music ever, Symphony No. 3, “What the Universe Tells Me.” This inspired me to write a column, “What the Midterm Election Tells Me.”

There is a variety of takeaways from what happened Tuesday:

(From left) Dana Nessel, Gretchen Whitmer and Jocelyn Beson won four more years.

The bluest election in Michigan in 40 years

Despite the tradition of the party of the president getting a “shellacking” two years afterward, vote tallies in Michigan went in the opposite direction. To be sure, Allegan, Ottawa and other rural West Michigan counties continued to show GOP dominance.

But not so in the rest of the state.

Kent County helped elect only the second Democrat in Congress for the Third District, a seat held in bygone days by Gerald Ford, Paul Henry, Vern Ehlers and most recently Peter Meijer. The GOP primary backing right-winger John Gibbs handed Hillary Scholten the prize, a feat not equaled since 1974.

Retired Kalamazoo reporter Julie Mack posted on Facebook the fact that “token” Democratic candidate Joseph Alfonso, who didn’t have one ad on TV, nailed 54% of the vote in that city against Bill Huizenga, who won district-wide by a landslide.

Though former President Donald Trump-backed candidates such as Rachelle Smit and Angela Rigas won big in these parts, the former president’s endorsements did not fare as well elsewhere in this state. He, gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon and the House of DeVos were blamed by the Michigan Republican Party for the disappointing results from Tuesday.

For the first time since 1984, the Michigan House, Senate and Governor’s office all show a majority of Democrats. Grand Rapids’ Winnie Brinks is Senate Majority Leader and a black man is Speaker of the House.

Michigan, long regarded as a purple state, now is a blue state. I blame the voter-approved independent redistricting commission that took that power away from self-serving lawmakers, and the continuing rise of women in politics. Say what you will, but more than 60% of the state-wide electorate in 2018 got that ballot initiative passed.

But ladies, the pressure is on. You must prove you can get done what the GOP has refused to get done. It was just six years ago that the Senate was made up of 26 Republicans and 12 Democrats. My, how times have changed.

Newcomer’s performance was astonishing

Grace Sefranik
Norm Taylor

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the election was the high number of votes cast for political novice Grace Sefranik for Wayland City Council. She didn’t crack the top three to get elected to a seat, but her fourth-place finish was very strong, coming close (just 39 votes) to incumbent Abe Garcia.

She did this without a whole lot of name recognition, without many lawn signs and virtually no public politicking except attending the meetings. So did she do well because of the old-fashioned process of knocking on doors?

In the category of “This doesn’t happen very often,” former Wayland Schools Supt. Norman Taylor pulled off two electoral victories in one day, winning a seat on the Board of Education and on the City Council. He probably won because of name recognition and because he is regarded by many as “a nice man.”

Allegan County continues to be blood red

Statistics from the Allegan County Clerk’s office showed a significant number of voters voted straight Republican, far more than those who vote straight Democratic.

Not even Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could claim victory in the county, though she did win certain precincts in the more urban areas such as Douglas, Saugatuck, Fennville, Plainwell, Allegan, Holland and Wayland. So there it is again — the big electoral divide is between urban and rural with suburban being the battleground.

‘Torches and Pitchforks’ prevail for school boards

The “Torches and Pitchforks” crowd swept open seats on the Martin Board of Education after a very public campaign to elect “conservatives.”

All five of those elected to four-year seats and the two-year winner were on board with the recent parents’ rights movement to rid schools of teaching Critical Race Theory, though it’s not taught in the schools here, gender differences and LGBTQ considerations, and being mandated to wear masks when Covid or other health risks rear their ugly heads again.

Wayland escaped a complete takeover, but only because incumbent Pete Zondervan squeaked past right-wing warrior Michael B. Warren. Janel Hott’s decision over Cinnamon Mellema for the two-year seat sent an ominous message to the board that “we don’t want any pointy-headed intellectuals telling us how to educate our kids.”

So look for more culture wars on school boards, except Hopkins, where the two incumbents won.

“Fasten your seat belts, we’re in for a bumpy ride” — Bette Davis


  • It seems like Michigan is governed by a group of people who were elected by a small concentration of people. Not the majority of the area of the state, but the congested neighborhoods. It does not seem fair or understandable at all, to me.

    • I think the best explanation for the phenomenon you think you observe is that those people’s votes count equally to rural voters’ votes. Republicans will either have to campaign for land area to achieve suffrage, or they’ll have to make those people’s votes count as 3/5ths again. That said, both changes would be an awfully tall task now that we’ve rid our state of gerrymandering and Michigan is solid blue for the foreseeable future. Might be that the best course of action is for trumpees to move south to a Confederate slave state. I hear Florida is quite the yeehawdi mecca these days.

  • The three…. what disgrace to the offices. How interesting when they are not 2nd amendment advocates. Also is that portraiting women as sexual objects? My opinion, my choice.

  • Last I checked n 2022 Michigan decides it’s elections on a one person, one vote basis. That’s taught in Government, a class that’s required to graduate from high school. It was one man one vote. Been that way since Michigan became a state in 1837.

    In Michigan each of the 38 state senate district represents 291,192 people. Each of the 110 Michigan House district represents. Big change for 2022 was for the first time all of Michigan’s Congressional and state legislative districts were decided by a non-partisan committee rather than maps decided by the majority party in the state legislature. As seen in the results, there were fewer “safe” districts in which both party’s nominees had a legitimate chance to win.

    If you live in Allegan County, Congressman Bill Huizenga (R) won re-election in the newly redrawn Congressional District 4 that includes Allegan County winning 54% of the vote. State Senator Eric Nesbitt ran for re-election in the newly drawn MI State Senate District 20 that includes all of Allegan County and won with 61% of the votes cast. Most of Allegan County is in House District 43 where Rachellle Smit won 70% of the vote. Republicans representing smaller portions on the East and West sides of Allegan County won their races by 56% and 65% respectively.

    It appears the majority of voters in Allegan County selected Republicans to represent them for the legislative levels of Federal, state and county governments. Although Allegan County’s population grew by 9.8% to 122,320 population, its the 18th largest county in the state. (MI has 83 counties.)

    So what’s the issue? GOP candidates running for statewide office didn’t win?

    A change in the state constitution to make the votes of citizens living in counties that have a population of less than 150,000 count as 1.25 votes? Make the votes of people living what are deemed to be “congested neighborhood” count as .75 of a vote?

    I recall a phrase some commenters here used a lot 6 years ago. “Elections have consequences”.

    I will add; Selection of candidates for statewide elections have consequences.

  • Unlike the presidential elections, state elections are done by popular vote. The reason why certain areas “carry” the state is because there are simply more people there.

    I grew up in a city on the east side of the state that was the size of Yankee Springs Township with the population of all of Barry County.

  • Last I knew it was illegal to hold two elected seats at the same time. I had to resign one when I was on the school board and appointed to township supervisor. Might want to check on that, Mr. Taylor

Leave a Comment