Election talk likely to dominate GOP conference

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. (file)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference starts Friday, big names from the GOP will be thinking about how to tackle next year’s midterm election.

As usual, there will be a number of panels on leadership and accomplishment at the three-day event, which is held every other year on Mackinac Island. Less publicly, there will be meetings to strategize.

The midterm will feature some big races: All of the state House of Representatives and Senate seats and every one of Michigan’s congressional seats will be up for a vote. There may also be hotly contested races for Michigan governor and lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general.

The U.S. Senate race is of particular interest to the GOP faithful that will gather on the island. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, is expected to run for a fourth term and Republicans are trying to find a candidate who can do what no other GOP standard bearer has been able to do since 1994: win a seat in the upper chamber. A number of Republicans have expressed interest, a few have already declared they are running and at least one potential candidate instead started a campaign for a congressional seat that is open due to the unexpected decision of Republican Congressman Dave Trott not to seek a third term.

Also up for discussion will be the impact President Donald Trump will have on Decision 2018.

Midterm elections for the party in the White House have not always been kind. Many times, they result in major losses in Congress and that can sometimes be felt down the ticket.

So how will Trump affect the races here in Michigan? Will Trump supporters who gave him the state, the first time since 1988 that a Republican has won here, turn out to support other Republicans? If some of the president’s major promises — like repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and building a border wall — haven’t been realized, will those voters remain energized? And will Democrats stunned by Trump’s victory be able to harness their anger and displeasure and turn them into victories?

Starting at 5 p.m. Friday, 24 Hour News 8 political reporter Rick Albin will have reports from Mackinac Island. Additionally, Sunday’s episode of “To The Point” will air live from the island.

**Correction: A previous version of this article stated Republicans had not won one of Michigan’s seats in the U.S. Senate since 1996. It was actually 1994. We regret the error, which has been fixed.