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Election observer: Republican contenders take early favorite title into fall election

·2 min read

GAYLORD — Winning Republican candidates from Tuesday's primary election enter the fall campaign in a strong position, according to one observer.

Scott LaDeur, professor of political science at North Central College in Petoskey, said Ken Borton, Neil Friske and John Damoose are the early favorites in their November matchups with Democratic opponents.

Borton, of Gaylord, easily fended off three challengers in the 105th state House of Representatives district.

Ladeur noted that Borton carried every county in the newly configured district as the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission eliminated Antrim and Charlevoix counties and added Crawford and Roscommon counties.

More: Borton tops GOP field in 105th; four county board incumbents fall

"These are the powers of incumbency. He has a record to run on and has some name recognition. He campaigned on the idea he has been effective," LaDeur said of Borton.

He will face Democrat Adam Wojdan of Frederic who, according to LaDeur, starts out in an uphill battle.

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"With Borton winning every county in the district, he now has a united party behind him and these are heavily Republican areas," added LaDeur.

In the GOP primary for the 107th state house seat, Neil Friske of Charlevoix finished ahead of Parker Fairbairn, Jonathan Scheel, Bob Carr and David Laughbaum.

Neil Friske
Neil Friske

LaDeur said Friske, who is related to the family that owns Friske Orchards, was more of a "Trump" candidate while Fairbairn was more of a "DeVos" candidate, referring to the wealthy Grand Rapids family that backed Republican gubernatorial winner Tudor Dixon.

"Fairbairn did not run strongly enough in Emmet County," he said. "He needed to dominate the county."

Friske now faces Democrat Jodi Decker of Sault Ste. Marie in November. Like Wojdan in the 105th, Decker starts out at a disadvantage, LaDeur said.

Jodi Decker
Jodi Decker

The 37th State Senate District in Northern Michigan saw primary competition for both the Democrats and Republicans.

More: Damoose and Conley win primary races for 37th State Senate

On the GOP side, John Damoose topped Tristan Cole, George Ranville and William Hindle.

John Damoose
John Damoose

Damoose and Cole are former state representatives who did well in their old districts, said LaDeur.

"Damoose carried Emmet, Mackinac and Chippewa counties while Cole carried Antrim and Charlevoix counties," he said.

"They ran tight races but Damoose came out ahead in Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties — areas that both did not represent in the state house," LaDeur added.

Barbara Conley
Barbara Conley

Barbara Conley, a physician from Leelanau County, easily defeated two right-leaning conservatives running as Democrats — Randy Bishop and James Schmidt.

"Damoose begins as the early prohibitive favorite even though the district has gotten a little more favorable to Democrats with Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties. This (race) is Damoose's to lose," said LaDeur.

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Election observer: Republican contenders take early favorite title into fall election