In the 82nd House District Republican primary election to replace Todd Courser, Courser himself is running and no fewer than ten others are, as well, along with three Democrats. In the 80th District, Cindy Gamrat is running to replace herself along with seven other Republicans and one Democrat.
While primaries are not infrequently crowded, this is a nearly unprecedented number of candidates. In 2014, both candidates faced off against only three others in the GOP primary, for example.
What this means is that if Courser and Gamrat can turn out a significant number of supporters, the other candidates may split the “Anybody except that lying, cheating philanderer” vote and give Gamrat and Courser their seats back, paving the way for Democratic victories in both Republican-dominated districts. It’s not out of the question, either. These special primaries typically draw a tiny number of voters so only the most fervent voters are likely to show up and Courser and Gamrat’s supporters are nothing if not fervent.
“I think in a five- or six-way race there’s enough insanity in the Republican party to see them back in Lansing,” said Joe DiSano of Democratic political consulting firm DiSano Strategies.
Filing ended at 4 p.m. Friday. There are eight Republicans running in Gamrat’s former 82nd district primary and 11 Republicans running in Courser’s former 80th district primary. Those are big numbers, and could split the vote against the two representatives.
John Truscott, the Republican half of bipartisan of strategic communications agency Truscott Rossman, said that there is also the possibility of low turnout to consider. This is a special election in an off-year, so people aren’t used to getting out and voting for state representative. That, combined with a crowded primary field, could help Courser and Gamrat.
“You’re almost to the point that if all their family and friends showed up and voted for them, it’s possible,” Truscott said.
Tom Shields of Republican political consulting firm Marketing Resource Group said the crowded primary could mean Courser and Gamrat prevail.
As much as I detest having to continue writing about these two, it looks like I will be doing so for some time to come.