July 27 2016 01:20 PM

Schor, Cochran fending off challenges

State Reps. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, and Tom Cochran, D-Mason, are each facing a primary challenge, but Lansing observers don't see either as being at risk of losing.

Schor's bid for his final House term allowed under term limits became more perfunctory than automatic when a pair of political neophytes filed at the April 19 deadline. Both retired municipal economic coordinator Chris Davenport, 68, and attorney Eric Nelson filed paperwork with the state vowing not to spend or raise $1,000 on their campaign. Neither has run a particularly visible campaign.

Left: Schor Right: Cochran

Davenport, who played on Sexton High School's last state championship football team, concedes he won't do much campaigning until this week, which is when he figures most people make up their minds. He's of the opinion the current state representative doesn't have much to run on and is the one on the hot seat.

"I don't think he's done that much for the community, but that's up to community," Davenport said. "Vote your conscience."

Schor, on the other hand, is almost running like he's facing Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero planting his yard signs throughout Lansing, knocking doors and sending out literature as if his political future is on the line.

"Former Speaker Curtis Hertel always said there are two ways to run: Scared and unopposed," Schor said. "You need to take it seriously. There will be three names on the ballot and I want to make sure people know who I am and know what I'm doing."

Schor has raised nearly $100,000 on this campaign. And while the challenges in the Democratic primary may not end up being as seriously as they could have been, Schor said he's not "taking his foot off the gas" in terms of reaching constituents.

"I don't want to take it for granted and then lose because I didn't work hard enough," Schor said.

Davenport said when he does get rolling, he will hit churches and neighborhoods in Lansing's south side. Davenport said Schor won his seat in the 2012 primary because three African-American candidates split up the vote.


Combined, A'Lynne Robinson, Griffin Rivers and Dale Copedge received 45.09 percent of the vote in the Lansing-based 68th House District. Schor received 43.24 percent. Davenport is an African American.

The rumor among the political types in town was either Davenport, Nelson or possibly both were put-ups by Bernero to make Schor work in response to rumors that Schor was eyeing a possible 2017 challenge to the three-term mayor. However, there's no proof that is the case.

"He has nothing to do with me," Davenport said.

Nelson, the third candidate in the field, is a life-long Lansing resident who said he opted to run against Schor because as a former teacher and attorney he felt the timeline was right for him to serve.

Besides that, Nelson acknowledged the rumors of Schor’s possibly running for mayor in 2017. "This is more of a filler election for (Schor)," he said.

Nelson said nobody from the Bernero camp urged him to run. Rather, he said Schor would "make a great candidate for mayor." On the other hand, he said Bernero has had to make decisions with the budget and the city's pension plan that has "made some uncomfortable, but they were necessary moves."

The Sexton graduate, who received his degree from Cooley Law School, supports changing the current city tax system from being payroll- and sales tax oriented to a land value taxation system.


South of Lansing and in rural Ingham County, Republicans are keeping an eye on Cochran, who is seeking his final two-year term in the 67th House District.

Republicans are publicly bullish about former Mason Mayor Leon Clark, even though it's more likely the House Republican Campaign Committee will need to be spending their resources on defending various seats across the state and will leave Clark to his own devices.

Clark, too, has a primary in 2012 can didate Jerry Ketchum, who took 17.6 percent of a three-candidate field as a Democrat. Ketchum has been elected three times to the Delhi Township Board and ran unsuccessfully for the Ingham County Commission in 2000.

As for Cochran, the former Lansing fire chief, he's facing a primary challenge by Michigan State University student Alec Findlay of Mason. The Okemos High graduate participated in the Army ROTC for four years and was elected twice as a representative of his college to the General Assembly of the MSU's student government body.

"I have always been interested in politics and through my upbringing and education I gained a strong urge to serve," Findlay said. "As I got older, I became disillusioned with the way Michigan was heading. Keeping up with state politics, I saw many legislators neglect to pass or even propose common-sense policy that benefited every Michigander."

Meanwhile, Cochran said he's been knocking about 500 doors a week, meeting with constituent groups and "keeping his down" as far as staying visible in the community.

Democrats have a 53-47 percent edge on the base number in the 67th House District. By comparison, the Democrats enjoy a 74-26 percent base number advantage in the 68th.

Elsewhere in the Lansing area, Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, does not have a primary challenge in East Lansing/Meridian Township-based 69th District and will face perennial candidate George Nastas in the November general election.

Also, a rematch of the 2014 election in the Eaton County-based 71st House District will take place this fall between Republican Tom Barrett and Democrat Theresa Abed. This time, however, Barrett is the incumbent as opposed to Abed. Neither has a primary election.

North of Lansing in Clinton County, possible House Speaker candidate Tom Leonard is facing a longshot primary challenge from small business owner Charles Truesdell of Eagle. Josh Derke, a University of Michigan graduate, is the Democrats' nominee in this district, which has a 56 percent Republican base number.