Leeman, O'Dell join 68th sweepstakes

By Kyle Melinn

Let’s make it a seven-person primary!

State Rep. Joan Bauer is term-limited and now seven Democrats want to replace her, with former City Council President Harold Leeman and Lansing Jobs Coalition Chairman Ted O’Dell surprisingly entering the race.

Lansing Community College adjunct professor Anne Clayton filed recently, too, in the 68th House district, joining Lansing City Councilwoman A’Lynne Robinson, Griffin Rivers and Ingham County Commissioners Andy Schor and Dale Copedge.

A pair of Republicans — Timothy Moede and Michael Wing — filed, but with a 73 percent Democratic base, something seismic would need to happen to give the race to the GOP.

The biggest surprise is Leeman, who last year unsuccessfully tried to regain the 1st Ward City Council seat he lost by 15 votes in 2007. His filing instantly earned him a call from Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and his lieutenant, Joe McDonald, who want him to drop out, Leeman said.

Without Leeman — and presumably O’Dell — Schor had a clear path to the Democratic nomination with Robinson and Copedge chopping up that 3rd Ward and African-American support. With both cutting into Schor’s support in eastern Lansing and the westside neighborhood, the race becomes more muddled.

Leeman said he knows that “some people are mad at me” but he’s going to do what it takes to win the seat.

“I’m not a spoiler. I’m running, and I want people to look at all of our qualifications and decide who they want to represent them. It’s sad that people take it too personal if you’re running against them,” he said.

“People need to back off. Everybody has a right to run. I’ve been tested. I’ve been through a lot on Council. I’m 54. I have a lot to offer.”

O’Dell said he had been looking at Lansing City Council in 2013. But he’d received so many telephone calls from union members and those who assisted in Lansing casino petition drive, he decided that “I have as much to offer as anybody else in the race so I jumped in.”

He’s lived either downtown or on the west side for 18 years. O’Dell said he feels pretty good with his name ID since his jobs coalition was so active circulating petitions to bring a casino to downtown Lansing.

Clayton, 52, has taught biology at LCC since 2007. She has also owned her own message therapy business.

In the 67th, the only new name in the race to replace term-limited Rep. Barb Byrum was 23-year-old Ashley Kring, a Republican challenger to Jeff Oesterle. Kring just graduated from Grand Valley State University with an economics degree. She’s running her first campaign, but she’s worked with other county commission campaigns in the past. The Democratic field of Walt Sorg, Jerry Ketchum and Tom Cochran has been set for some time.

The Eaton County-based 70th could be interesting with three Democrats seeking to unseat state Rep. Deb Shaughnessy in a competitive 50/50 seat. The 2008 candidate, Theresa Abed, is running again. Former legislative staffer Andrea Cascarilla has access to money, and former state official Douglas Drake has probably forgotten more about state government than most people will ever learn.

In the East Lansing/Meridian Township-based 69th House District, the long-awaited Democratic primary showdown between former East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh and former East Lansing School Board member Susan Schmidt is official.

Interestingly, both have strong connections to the term-limited Rep. Mark Meadows. Schmidt worked for Meadows in the legislature for several years, while Meadows, Singh and Doug Jester ran initially as a slate in 1994 for East Lansing City Council. Meadows is backing Schmidt, but insists he has nothing against Singh.

Meridian Township Supervisor Susan McGillicuddy is filing once again to run in the 69th District as opposed to seeking re-election. She has a very winnable three-way primary, but the General Election will still be a steep climb. The Democratic base is 62 percent and is trending Democratic.

To replace McGillicuddy, Meridian Township Trustee Elizabeth LeGoff is filing as a Democrat against former Republican Trustee Andy Such, the president of EnviroPolicy Consultants and the former executive director of the Michigan Chemistry Council.

Ingham County Commissioner Steve Dougan is not running for re-election in the redrawn 6th District, setting up a Republican primary between Renee Sumerix and Randy Maiville. The Democrat is Jim Dravenstatt-Moceri.

With Copedge running for the House, former Bauer staffer Sarah Anthony and Joe McDonald, a staffer for Mayor Bernero, are running in the Democratic primary in the 3rd district.

Outside of the well-publicized primary challenge Commissioner Mark Grebner is giving Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann, none of the Democratic countywides will face primary opposition. Even Byrum, who will be running for the clerk’s spot for the first time, will get a free shot in the primary.