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Democrats regain full control of state House with two special election wins

In special elections on Tuesday, state House Democratic candidates Peter Herzberg and Mai Xiong scored victories in two Southeast Michigan districts to help secure a 56-54 voting majority for their caucus.

By Ken Coleman, Michigan Advance - April 17, 2024
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A resident votes at the Zion St. Joe United Church of Christ on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020, in St. Joseph, Mich.
A resident votes at the Zion St. Joe United Church of Christ on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020, in St. Joseph, Mich. (Don Campbell/The Herald-Palladium via AP, File)

In special elections on Tuesday, state House Democratic candidates Peter Herzberg and Mai Xiong scored victories in two Southeast Michigan districts to help secure a 56-54 voting majority for their caucus. 

“I am incredibly humbled for the overwhelming support of the voters of the 13th House District, who have chosen me to represent our community as the next State Representative. Michigan holds a special place in my heart, as it has been a beacon of hope for me and my family,” said Xiong, a Macomb County commissioner who had the endorsement of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from before the special primary election in January. 

Xiong defeated Republican Ronald Singer 65% to 34%, according to unofficial returns, in the 13th District, which includes Macomb and Wayne counties, as well as the city of Warren and a small part of Detroit. 

Herzberg, a Westland City Council member, won the 25th House District that includes the Wayne County cities of Wayne and Westland. He won 60%, per unofficial returns, defeating Republican Josh Powell, who earned 38%, and U.S. Taxpayer candidate Robert Stano, who had 2%.  

The elections come after former Reps. Lori Stone and Kevin Coleman, both Democrats, were elected mayors of Warren and Westland, respectively, in November. 

In 2022, Democrats won control of both houses of the Legislature for the first time in almost 40 years. With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also romping to reelection, the party secured unified control of Michigan government and passed a slew abortion rights, gun reform, LGBTQ+ rights and pro-labor legislation last year.

But the lower chamber was locked in a 54-54 partisan split since Stone and Coleman stepped down, which was one reason why the Legislature took its last votes for 2023 in November. Democrats maintained control of the House this year, but the pace of passing legislation has slowed down considerably as Republicans clamored for a “shared power” agreement — which they never secured.

Once the election results are certified, Herzberg and Xiong are expected to be sworn in quickly for their partial terms through the end of the year. The Legislature has been working on the Fiscal Year 2025 budget that goes into effect on Oct. 1. Lawmakers are supposed to have the budget done by July 1, although there is no penalty if they don’t.

Biden-Harris Michigan State Director Ed Duggan congratulated Herzberg and Xiong and called their wins a rejection of former President Donald Trump, who is running again this year against President Joe Biden. 

“I congratulate representatives-elect Mai Xiong and Peter Herzberg, and look forward to working together to reelect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and fire Donald Trump once and for all,” said Duggan in a statement. 

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) President Heather Williams praised Michigan voters.  

“Tonight’s elections were a referendum on the mission of Michigan’s Democratic trifecta, and voters declared they want Democrats to keep advancing the state forward. Michigan has been a shining example of what can be accomplished when Democrats are in control — from action on gun violence to expanding health care access. Voters want their fundamental freedoms protected, and tonight’s elections delivered a clear rebuke of GOP extremism and attacks on reproductive care,” Williams said.

Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber called the wins a victory for “working people.”

“After tonight’s election results, Michigan once again has a pro-worker majority in the state House,” Bieber said. “Mai and Peter earned our endorsement because of the commitments they made to continue building on our progress in the fight to make Michigan a workers’ rights state. We are looking forward to partnering with our newest allies in the Capitol to continue delivering for Michigan’s working people.”

This story was originally published in the Michigan Advance


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