The Highlander’s Guide to the 2018 Primaries

By Cece Cousins, Claire Kowalec, Asher Leukhardt, Sarah Patterson and Griffin Powers     

On Tuesday, August 7th, Birmingham voters are tasked with casting their votes in 6 different races in the 2018 Michigan Primaries, and it is crucial that everyone that can, votes, and votes informed. That’s why The Highlander is compiling a list of all 33 candidates running to represent Birmingham at all levels of government (with the exception of the 12th County Commissioner’s race, in which both parties’ candidates are running uncontested). Read about each candidate here to be the informed, responsible constituent our democracy needs. Below is the partial list of eligible candidates for Birmingham citizens and a navigation menu. 

The U.S. Senate: Two Republicans and incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow vie to represent Michigan in the U.S. Senate.

The 11th U.S. Congressional District: 11 candidates compete in a crowded primary to replace retiring U.S. Rep. David Trott, R-Birmingham, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Michigan’s Gubernatorial Race: The intriguing and tightly-contested race for Michigan governor is between 9 candidates who look to succeed term-limited Governor Rick Snyder as the state’s chief executive.

The 40th State Legislature District: 8 candidates joust to replace Republican Michael McCready, who’s running for a different office.

The 13th State Senate District: Information on the race in which Republican incumbent Marty Knollenberg is poised to take on Democratic challenger Mallory McMorrow in November.

Other elections in the Seaholm area: The 9th U.S. Congressional District and the 12th State Senate District both envelop areas in which Seaholm voters live.

Didn’t see your district on this list? Click here to see the Oakland County Elections Division’s official candidate list of primary candidates.

Related: Progressives Spearhead Nationwide Movement in Michigan

The U.S. Senate

Every 6 years, Michigan’s Class I U.S. Senate seat is up for grabs. The post has been occupied since 2001 by current Senator Debbie Stabenow who is running unopposed in the Democratic Senate Primary, however two Trump-embracing Republicans, John James and Sandy Pensler, are running for the Republican nomination.

Debbie Stabenow

68 year-old Democratic incumbent seeking re-election for the U.S. State Senate


Photo courtesy of

Stabenow was first elected to the U.S. Senate in the year 2000 as Michigan’s first female senator. Prior to her tenure in the Senate, she served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Michigan’s 8th Congressional District and has also served in county and state positions. Since becoming a Senator, she has become a ranking member, including as the current chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

She has both a bachelors and a master’s degree from Michigan State University.

 If Debbie Stabenow is re-elected, she vouches to improve Michigan’s growing economy with better wages and more jobs, to better serve veterans through legislation, improving healthcare, advance education, and provide help for small businesses.

Debbie Stabenow is a mother to two children, Todd and Michele, and has been divorced twice.

For more information on Debbie Stabenow, click here to visit her website.


John James

36 year-old Republican running for U.S. Senate


Image courtesy Crain’s Detroit Business (

John James, a conservative, has served as an Army helicopter pilot in Iraq and has since become a prominent Detroit businessman working for his family business.

James holds a Bachelor’s of Science from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and has also earned two masters degrees in business from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Michigan.

While James does not have prior political experience, he has experience in the business world in addition to an understanding of national security, derived from his position as President of the Detroit-based, family James Group International and his service in Iraq for eight years.  

James’ focus lies primarily in nurturing national security. He intends to “develop strategies to address our debt, improve our cyber defenses, and give our military the resources they need,” according to his campaign’s website. James has been endorsed by President Trump, and, in-line with him, James also seeks to increase economic opportunity through his past experience in business as an outsider of the political playing field. James is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and supports the implementation of a strong border security policy to prevent illegal immigration.

James lives with his wife and two young boys in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

For more information on John James, go to his website by clicking here.


Sandy Pensler

61-year-old Republican running for the U.S. Senate


New to the political scene, Pensler, a former educator and businessman, graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and, later, a Master’s degree in Economics. After serving as a private investor and financial advisor to several of the largest corporations in America, Pensler put his education and experience to use. He taught at Harvard University, served as a clerk for the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for Judge Patrick Higginbotham, founded Pensler Capital, and currently owns Kroex corporation.

Pensler subscribes to President Trump’s political dogma, however his opponent, John James, received the president’s endorsement for Michigan’s Republican Senate Primary. Pensler affirms that Trump’s agenda is his agenda, vowing to crack down on illegal immigration, put Michigan first, protect the Great Lakes, the Second Amendment, and supports both free trade and President Trump’s trade war.

In an intense Senate race, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Texas,-endorsed Pensler is nearly tied in the polls with competitor for the Republican nomination, John James.

Pensler, along with wife Anita, son Jonathan, and daughter Natasha currently live in Grosse Pointe where they relish the joys of Lake St. Clair.

For more information on Sandy Pensler, click here to visit his website. 


The 11th U.S. Congressional District of Michigan

11th congressional.png
Screengrab courtesy of the Michigan Department of State

The retirement of MI-11’s current representative David Trott, R-Birmingham, prompted the running of 11 candidates for the congressional seat. Five Democrats and five Republicans are fighting for their respective party’s nomination while one Libertarian accompanies the bunch in the crowded and competitive race. 

Kerry Bentivolio

66 year-old Republican running for U.S. House of Representatives in the 11th Congressional District of Michigan.


After his graduation from high school, Bentivolio enlisted in the U.S. Army and faught in the Vietnam Conflict during 1970 and 1971. He has had several different occupations outside of politics, working as a social studies teacher, an automotive designer and serving for the U.S. National Guard.

After a defeat in the 2014 Republican primary, Detroit native Kerry Bentivolio is once again seeking election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Bentivolio’s political career began in 2010, as a candidate for the Michigan State Senate, a race in which he was defeated by Mike Kowall in the primary. Bentivolio would, in 2012, be elected to the U.S. House, where he served just one term.

Bentivolio describes his views as conservative with libertarian ideals. His 2018 campaign website emphasizes his support for the right to bear arms, as well as his strong pro-life stance. Bentivolio describes himself as “committed to defending the Constitution and Bill of Rights each and every time.”

Bentivolio is married and lives with his wife, in Milford, MI since 1982 where they have been since 1982.

For more information on Kerry Bentivolio, visit his website by clicking here.


Lena Epstein

36-year-old Republican running for the 11th Congressional District


Photo courtesy of Michigan Radio

The businesswoman and former Michigan Trump campaign co-chair, Lena Epstein, joins many other candidates in the running for the 11th Congressional District.

She graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, and continued on to receive her MBA from University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Epstein is currently the co-owner of Southfield lubricants company Vesco Oil. 

Epstein has faced complications within her campaign when Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon, along with several others, came forward with evidence that the candidate had “liked” tweets by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke that praised a white-nationalist, anti-Semitic rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Epstein responded claiming that her account had been hacked and demanded apologies from Dillon and the others who accused her of this scandal. Dillon would not apologize and held strong with his accusation.

Epstein is endorsed by the VIEW PAC, an organization run by women that raises money in support of Republican female candidates.

Epstein is currently married and lives with her husband in Detroit.

For more information on Lena Epstein, visit her website by clicking here.


Klint Kesto

36-year-old Republican running for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District.


Picture Courtesy of Michigan House Republicans

In 2002, Kesto graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s in political science, continuing his educational pursuits at Wayne State Law School, from which he graduated in 2006.

After college, Kesto worked for the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Kesto, also a former prosecutor, has served as a representative on the Michigan State House of Representative since 2012, and has now decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives as a representative from District 11. Along with this. Kesto is a member of several legislative and non-legislative committees in the Michigan House, including the Judicial and Health Policies Committees.

Kesto generally espouses Trump-based rhetoric, plighting his support to renegotiate trade agreements, repeal current healthcare laws and “go back to the drawing board” on the issue, provide aid central to mitigating the banes of the opioid crisis, improve infrastructure, implement strictly merit-based immigration legislation and provide a different kind of legal status for DACA recipients, widely known as DREAMers, other than citizenship.

 If elected, Kesto would be the first Chaldean-American to be elected to Congress. He is the son of Middle Eastern immigrants who fled religious persecution and came to America.

Kesto lives in West Bloomfield with his second wife and daughter.

For more information on Klint Kesto, visit his website by clicking here.


Mike Kowall

66 year-old Republican running for U.S. House of Representatives in the 11th Congressional District of Michigan


Kowall attended high school in Detroit and went on to Oakland Community College. After OCC, Kowall entered a 5-year vocational training program to become a carpenter. Kowall served as President of Accurate Woodworking Inc. prior to entering the political field.

While finishing out his term as a Michigan State Senator, Mike Kowall of White Lake, MI is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. House. Kowall has previously served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1998 to 2002, as well as being the supervisor of the Charter Township of White Lake before joining the State Senate.

Kowall’s major issues include increasing investments for the military and veterans, forming an Autonomous Vehicle Caucus within Congress, and supports a U.S. foreign policy that “stands with our allies, holds rogue nations accountable, and aggressively combats terrorism.” Though he calls for increased border security, Kowall is the only Republican candidate that supports a pathway to citizenship for people who entered the country without legal permission as children. Also, Kowall describes himself as a “lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.”

Kowall has been endorsed by Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson, “a major figure in the local GOP establishment,” as well as the Detroit Free Press, who called Kowall the most credible among the Republican candidates.

Mike Kowall lives in White Lake with his wife Eileen, who currently is a county commissioner. The couple has two daughters, Marissa and Stephanie, as well as two grandchildren.

For more information on Mike Kowall, visit his website by clicking here


Rocky Raczkowski

49-year-old Republican running for U.S. House of Representatives (MI-11)


Image courtesy Raczkowski’s campaign website, 

Raczkowski is a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves and has served multiple tours in the fight against terrorism. Additionally, Raczkowski has served as the Speaker of the Michigan State House of Representatives. He served as President of Troy-based Imperium Logistics LLC, a firm specializing in providing logistic services to smaller businesses.

Raczkowski has received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Political Science and Psychology from Eastern Michigan University, a Masters in Administration from Central Michigan University and a Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University College of Law.

Raczkowski touts himself as a “Reagan Conservative,” supporting free trade: commerce without trade agreements nor tariffs; more simplistic taxes; hard line policies on illegal immigration; bolstering the armed forces; caring for veterans; and, generally, the removal of regulations viewed as impeding on business.

He and his wife, Amalia, have been married since 2010 and live with their daughter Sofia in Troy.

For more information on Rocky Reczkowski, visit his website by clicking here.


Tim Greimel

44 year-old Democrat running for the U.S. House of Representatives (MI-11)


Image courtesy the Detroit Free Press (

Tim Greimel is a Democrat running for the position of congressman in Michigan’s 11th district, a section of Southeast Michigan that includes parts of Oakland and Wayne counties. Serving his third term as a State Representative, Greimel has much prior political experience.

Greimel attended Rochester Public Schools, and graduated to attend the University of Michigan, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science, a master’s degree in public policy, and his juris doctorate in law. Out of college, Grimel became a civil rights lawyer before he held his first elected position was as a member of the Rochester School Board, which he eventually became the president of. Greimel became an Oakland County commissioner prior to his running for to represent the 29th State Legislative District, a position which he currently occupies. As a representative, Grimel expanded Medicaid, increased minimum wage, and became involved in restoring economic fertility in the Southeast Michigan region following Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Greimel believes that “everybody who works deserves a place in the middle class,” his website says. He intends to protect workers, increasing the minimum wage, afford them increased medical benefits, and ensure retirement security. Debt-free college and improving literacy and early childhood education are part of his interest in promoting education. Greimel supports the Second Amendment, but believes in background checks and outlawing certain types of guns. An advocate for preserving our environment, he pledges to protect the Great Lakes and ensure the EPA is functioning as prescribed by law.  

For more information on Rep. Tim Grimel, go to his website by clicking here


Suneel Gupta

39-year-old Democrat running for the U.S. House of Representatives (MI-11)


Image courtesy, Gupta’s official campaign website.

He has experience in the technology industry, having studied computer programming at University of Michigan-Dearborn and working as the Vice President of Product Development at Groupon, a partially Michigan-based website. Alongside his brother, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he developed a healthcare company—Rise—designed to decrease the cost of healthcare. Michelle Obama asked to become official partners with Rise during her campaign for better health. Gupta has experience working with the State of Michigan, as he utilized his skills in computer programming to both locate fathers who would not pay child support and improve functions within the United States Navy.

Gupta has a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Programming from The University of Michigan-Dearborn, and M.B.A. from the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, and a Juris Doctorate from Northwestern Law School.

Gupta aims to invest in public education to make quality education accessible to all economic classes, also implementing stronger STEM programs. Addressing and fighting climate change is another goal—Gupta claims he will not accept any endorsements from fossil fuel companies, and he will encourage the development of clean energy practices. Due to his own personal background (primarily surrounding his mother and her accomplishment in becoming the first female engineer at Ford), Gupta does not believe in refusing immigration through building a wall.

The Novi native has a wife and two daughters, aged five and one.

For more information on Suneel Gupta, click here to visit his website.


Fayrouz Saad

35-year-old Democrat running for U.S. House of Representatives (MI-11)


Image courtesy Saad for Congress at

Fayrouz Saad has worked in politics for much of her life, starting off as a field organizer for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. In the mid-200os, Saad worked as an aide to late Democratic State Representative Gino Polidori. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed her to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) post where she worked to strengthen community policing efforts to quell terrorism, protect infrastructure and bolster the nation’s cyber-attack readiness. Moving back to Detroit after her tenure at the DHS, Mayor Michael Duggan appointed her first Director of Detroit’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, which is primarily focused on helping immigrants settle in Detroit.

Saad initially attended the University of Michigan, going on to earn a degree from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Saad is a self-claimed progressive and vows to push for single payer health care, effective gun control, a $15 per hour federal minimum wage, debt free academic and vocational education, and has aligned herself strongly against corporate influence in politics. She is endorsed by the Michigan Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus, joining candidates like Abdul El-Sayed.

Saad, a first generation American born to two Lebanese immigrants, dwells in Northland with her husband, Chris, a law enforcement officer.

For more information on Fayrouz Saad, visit her website by clicking here.


Nancy Skinner

53-year-old Democrat running for U.S. House of Representatives in the 11th Congressional District of Michigan.


Skinner has been a part of multiple efforts to revitalize Downtown Detroit, has worked inside the federal government to mitigate flood damage and has managed work against climate change by coordinating 10 federal agencies under the Obama Administration. In addition to her governmental experience, Skinner has been a television personality for nearly two decades, offering commentary on issues ranging from the War on Terror to climate change. Skinner graduated from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in 1987 as a Finance Major.

In 2014, Skinner ran for the U.S. House, and received 26.5% of the vote, coming in third place in the Democratic primary. Making name for herself as a progressive political commentator, Nancy Skinner is running her fourth campaign for office, and second campaign for a Michigan Congressional District.

The mainstay of Skinner’s campaign is the issues of climate change, as she hopes to push efforts to stay the pernicious causes of global warming to prevent further human-caused climate change in the future, promoting “innovation and clean technology to create an explosion of jobs and literally a future for our country.” Among Skinner’s other proposals are marijuana decriminalization, as well as utilizing its medicinal benefits.

Skinner currently resides in Birmingham, Michigan.

For more information on Skinner, visit her website by clicking here.


Haley Stevens

33 year-old Democrat running for Michigan’s 11th  Congressional District


Image courtesy Project 100 (

Stevens worked on Hillary Clinton’s and former President Barack Obama’s campaigns. Obama nominated her to the position of Chief of Staff for his Auto Task Force within the U.S. Treasury Department, which was charged with helping the auto industry recover after the blows it received during the recession.

Stevens was born in Michigan and graduated from Seaholm High School. In her educational endeavors, she received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree from American University in social policy and philosophy.

Stevens is campaigning on making healthcare more affordable, ensuring access to a quality education for all students, protecting the environment, bettering immigration plans, and protecting women’s voice in the political sphere.

For more information about Haley Stevens, click here to visit her website.


Leonard Schwartz

73 year-old Libertarian running for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District


Image courtesy the Leonard Schwartz campaign (

Leonard Schwartz attended the University of Chicago, then went to John Hopkins University and received his law degree from Wayne State University. He has been an economist and a lawyer and has taught at the collegiate level as a professor of law and economics at Memphis State University, Texas State University, and Oakland University, and is now retired.

Schwartz has run for office multiple times within the past 10 years, but he has never been elected.

Schwartz is contending as an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans he sees as abusers of power, supporting the legalization of marijuana and abortion–though he doesn’t want them to be tax-funded–and wants to remove the U.S. from situations of foreign conflict, along with pushing for a smaller government in general.

For more information about Leonard Schwartz, click here to visit his website.


The Michigan Gubernatorial Race

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) has reached his term limit for the Michigan Governorship, paving the way for 9 candidates to run in an engaging and tumultuous race. Four Republicans, including embattled frontrunner State Attorney General Bill Schuette, jockey for the nomination, while three Democrats, including frontrunner State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer combats progressive insurgent Dr. Abdul El-Sayed and wildcard businessman Shri Thanedar. In addition to the main party candidates, third-party options include two Libertarians.

Abdul El-Sayed

33-year-old Democrat running for Governor


El-Sayed speaks at a Ypsilanti rally with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on July 29th //            Photo by Asher Leukhardt for The Highlander

Abdul El-Sayed has served as Director of the Detroit Health Department where he worked to implement new pollutant testing practices and reduce Detroit’s infant mortality rate. El-Sayed was educated at the University of Michigan and received his doctorate degree from Oxford University and a degree in medicine from Columbia University in the City of New York.

El-Sayed is running a progressive campaign, committed to providing Michigan with single-payer health care, reducing the financial burden of public post-secondary education by making college tuition-free for families making less than $150,000 a year, legalizing recreational marijuana, raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, and restricting the ability for companies to influence politics.

El-Sayed has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, Democratic nominee for New York’s 14th Congressional District Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, both of whom he’s campaigned with, and the Michigan Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus among others.

El-Sayed lives in Shelby Township with his wife, Sarah, with whom he recently had a daughter.

For more information on Abdul El-Sayed, visit his website by clicking here.


Shri Thanedar

63-year-old Democrat running for Michigan Governor


Photo Courtosy of The Bridge

Shri Thanedar has no political history, but plenty of professional experience that seems to have lead him to run for office. Thanedar graduated with a PhD in Polymers and Organometallics from the University of Akron, and later received an MBA in Management and Human Resources from Fontbonne University. Shri founded Avomeen Analytical Services, a chemical company and worked in the Pharmaceutical and Analytical industry for years.

Thanedar presents himself as a progressive candidate, and, though he is not endorsed by the Michigan Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus, he takes progressive-leaning stances including making healthcare more affordable, marijuana legalization, criminal justice reform to cultivate improved success of convict’s reintegration into society, and free four-year college for those students of families making under $120,000 a year and support for stricter gun control.

Thanedar sold his company in 2016, earning himself $20 million. Now, however, Thenedar is being sued in federal court for fraud by the parent company of the holding’s firm that bought him out. He is accused of fraudulently inflating earnings to mislead the buyers towards paying more. Thenedar is also often faulted with the mistreatment of testing animals that were caught in limbo during the company’s transfer of ownership, however, an investigation by The Bridge newspaper finds those rumors to be false as Thenedar was not involved in their mishandling.

Shri Thanedar lives with his wife and 2 children in Ann Arbor, and if elected, Thanedar would be Michigan’s first Indian immigrant governor.

For more information on Shri Thenedar, visit his website by clicking here.


Gretchen Whitmer

46-year-old Democratic candidate for Governor


Whitmer has represented Michigan’s 23rd State Senatorial District from 2007-2015, and for the last 4 years of her tenure, served as the Democratic Minority Leader. She received both her bachelor’s and law degree from the University of Michigan.

Whitmer is running a more centrist campaign, campaigning on rebuilding Michigan’s damaged infrastructure, wants to pass legislation making healthcare more affordable, improving Michigan’s public schools, and increasing government accountability.

Her opponents, particularly Mr. El-Sayed, contend that she is tarnished by the fact that she collects hundreds of thousands in corporate dollars to run her campaign.

Whitmer has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, the Progressive Women’s Alliance, multiple current and former politicians, and a plethora of workers’ unions, which collectively represent over 1,000,000 workers, her campaign says.

Gretchen Whitmer currently resides with her husband and five children in East Lansing.

For more information on Gretchen Whitmer, visit her website by clicking here.


Brian Calley

41-year-old Republican running for Governor


Image courtesy the State of Michigan website,

Currently Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor underneath Governor Rick Snyder, Republican Brian Calley is one of 9 gubernatorial candidates. Calley is the youngest person to become Lieutenant Governor in the United States, and has attended Grand Valley State University, the Seidman College of Business, Michigan State University and Harvard University.

Calley worked as a community banker for a time before becoming a member of the Ionia County Board of Commissioners. He was elected twice to the position of Vice Chairman, after which he became a Michigan State Representative. Governor Snyder and Calley were running mates for both the 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial elections. Calley has encouraged tax cuts and has worked to reduce unemployment in Michigan after a downturn in available industry jobs.

Calley wants Michigan to become the number one state for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education, and work towards ensuring that all children are strong readers by third grade. He also intends to invest in improving Michigan roads, as “bad decisions and indecision from previous administrations and career politicians have left us with too much debt and bad roads,” his website claims. He also promises to lower auto insurance rates, since Michigan’s auto insurance is the most expensive in the nation.

For more information of Brian Calley, click here to visit his website.


Patrick Colbeck 

52 year-old Republican gubernatorial candidate


Colbeck attended the University of Michigan and received a Bachelors of Science and a masters degree in Aerospace Engineering and has worked with Department of Defense contractors to create better simulation systems.

Colbeck’s  has been a state senator representing the 7th District since 2011 and has focused on a number of issues, particularly crafting k-12 curriculum and government reform. He campaigns on repealing the Michigan Income Tax, focusing on constituents when appropriating state funds and repairing Michigan’s dilapidated infrastructure.

Colbeck has procured multiple endorsements, including those of Right to Life of Michigan, NRA-PVF, writer William Federer, the Michigan FairTax Association and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

Patrick Colbeck is married to his wife Annie and currently resides in Canton.

For more information on Patrick Colbeck, visit his website by clicking here.


Jim Hines

62-year-old Republican running for Michigan Governor


Photo courtesy of

Jim Hines grew up in Saginaw, MI, and attended Indiana University where he earned his Bachelor’s in chemistry and biology before enrolling IU’s School of Medicine where he received his medical degree.

He is a staff physician, obstetrician and gynecologist at Covenant HealthCare, a staff physician, in the gynecological surgery department of Saint Mary’s of Michigan, and has served in many medical roles in his decades-long career.

Hines represents a the views of many moderate Republicans, advocating for the  pro-life agenda, making education more accessible, creating more stringent gun control laws, protecting legal immigrants and pledging to furnish the state with updated infrastructure.

He is married to his wife Martha, with whom he celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary this year. Together they have seven sons and sixteen grandchildren.

For more information on Jim Hines, visit his website by clicking here.

Bill Schuette

64-year-old Republican running for Michigan Governor


Photo courtesy of Bill Schuette for Governor

Bill Schuette has spent the majority of his life in politics. Currently Michigan’s Attorney General, Schuette has also served as a Judge for Michigan’s 4th District Court of Appeals, was a Michigan state senator, the Michigan Agricultural Commissioner and a U.S. Congressman (MI-10).

Schuette was educated at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and earned his law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Schuette has pledged to cut taxes and regulations, enforce government ethics, reduce the cost of auto insurance, make opioid treatment more accessible in the midst of a nationwide crisis as well as work to push pro-life initiatives, hampering the ability of Michiganders to get abortions.

Schuette currently holds a commanding lead according to polls of the race, and is endorsed by President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Governor Scott Walker, R-Wisconsin, Rep. David Trott, R-Birmingham, multiple law enforcement at fire fighters’ associations, atop of having received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association.

During his campaign, multiple allegations of malfeasance have come against the state Attorney General. It’s alleged that Schuette violated Michigan Constitutional Law by hiring Republican Campaign staffers using public money, lied about relinquishing his interests into a blind trust, using no-bid contracts to dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars in Attorney General’s office contracts to prominent Michigan Republicans, and used state workers as witnesses to Virgin Island real-estate transactions.

These alleged transgressions have resulted in an investigation referral by the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and potentially a grand jury as well. The referral process began in late June 2018, when Lansing lawyer Michael J. Nichols beseeched Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon to refer an investigation to the appropriate agency, which, due to jurisdictional concerns from entities like the Lansing Police, was pushed to the FBI’s Detroit Corruption Task Force, however the FBI has not disclosed whether or not an investigation has been opened.

Alert: The Highlander has obtained crucial documents related to Schuette’s potential investigation and we will be publishing our report as soon as we get the full story. Stay tuned.  

Schuette lives in this native Midland with his wife, Cynthia, and is the father of two children, Heidi and Bill.

For more information on Bill Schuette, visit his website by clicking here.


Bill Gelineau

59-year-old Libertarian running for Michigan Governor


Photo courtesy of Bill Gelineau Libertarian for Governor

Bill Gelineau has run for office for the Libertarian party multiple times, however, has never been elected. After attending the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, Gelineau spent most of his career in the food service business, eventually becoming a Grand Rapids restaurant owner, before entering real estate in the mid-2000s. In 2017, Gelineau was elected Chair of Michigan Libertarian Party, a station he still occupies.

Gilineau is a fiscal conservative, seeking to limit as much government spending as possible by imposing stricter limits on how much the state can spend, however supports the legalization of marijuana and assisted suicide, endorsing the ideology that government should protect as many civil liberties as it possibly can. In addition, Gilineau is passionate about the environment, and justifies spending on it as protecting individuals’ property rights.

Gelineau lives in the Grand Rapids area with his second wife, Donna, and is both a father and a grandfather.

For more information on Bill Gilineau, visit his website by clicking here.


John J. Tatar

69-year-old Libertarian running for Governor


Image courtesy Libertarian Party of Michigan (

John J. Tatar has been a member of the Libertarian party since 1980 and has since run for State Representative and U.S. Congress.

Tatar has a history working in the field of education, as he taught several subjects to middle and high school students for a number of years. He has experience in the construction industry as well, in addition to having served in the United States Army Reserve from 1971-2002, deployed most significantly during Operation Desert Storm among others. Tatar holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wayne State University in education and education administration, respectively.

Some of Tatar’s political views include the abolition of gerrymandering—which has been used by both the Democrat and Republican parties to hedge political districts unfairly to their advantages— and eliminating the installation and current use of electronic “smart” meters to monitor the energy consumption of a home or commercial business.

John J. Tatar is currently lives in Redford, Michigan

For more information on John J. Tatar, visit his website by clicking here.


The 40th State Legislature District

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Screengrab courtesy of the Michigan Department of State

Six Republicans and two Democrats jostle to come out on top after the August 7th Primary. Current 40th District representative Michael McCready, a Republican, is not seeking re-election for the district representing Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, and West Bloomfield in the Michigan State Legislature. McCready, a Seaholm graduate, is running to represent the 12th State Senate District instead. 


Mike Banerian

24-year-old Republican running for the 40th State Legislative District


Photo courtesy of Mike for Michigan

Michael Banerian grew up in Oakland County and graduated from Lahser High School, going on to Oakland University. At OU he earned a degree in political science, and now, at the age of 24, is seeking the Republican nomination for the 4oth State Legislative District.

A small businessman, he served as vice-president of his family’s wine distribution company. His political endeavors include forming a student and community police action committee that focused on defeating unnecessary tax hikes, leading an all youth outreach in Michigan as the youth vice-chairman for the Michigan Republican Party.

If the wunderkind is elected to the seat he would work improve Michigan’s public education system, work to fund Michigan infrastructure initiatives, while cutting taxes

For more information on Mike Banerian, visit his website by clicking here


Malissa Bossardet

51-year-old Republican running for the 40th State Legislative District


Photo Courtesy of Malissa Bossardet for State Representative

Malissa Bossardet is a medical and vetrenarian saleswoman who has served as a Republican precinct delegate in two different locations, including in Bloomfield Township.

As as state representative, Bossardet would bolster Michigan education programs, reintegrate vocational training into public schools and push to attract business by restructuring the tax code to reward production and more.

 Malissa Bossardet lives in Bloomfield Township with her three teenage sons.

To learn more about Malissa Bossardet, visit her website by clicking here.


Paul Secrest  

63-year-old Republican running for the 40th State Legislative District


Picture courtesy of

Paul Secrest was born in Ann Arbor, raised in Beverly Hills and Birmingham. He attended Seaholm High school, and later went onto DePauw University. He earned a minor in economics, and a teaching degree in history. Later he received his MBA in finance at Indiana University Kelly School of Business.

In his professional experience he was a member of the Chrysler Corporation, and is now retired and has now frequently volunteers for a variety of groups.

He’d push for lower car insurance rates, for improved school quality, to pass legislation baring Amazon-owned brands from selling products and using delivery drones, to tighten immigration restrictions, to reduce drug crime sentences, to cut taxes, to allow families to deal with social issues and not government and to receive little to no political contributions.

Secrest lives in Bloomfield Hills with his wife, Lisa, with whom he’s raised one child.

For more information on Paul Secrest, visit his website by clicking here.


Paul Taros

63-year-old Republican running for the 40th State Legislative District


Image courtesy of

Paul Taros, a University of Michigan graduate, owns and runs a Certified Public Accounting Firm in Bloomfield Hills. He self-identifies as a Constitutionalist Conservative and believes that the Constitution should be followed to the utmost extent. While he has not had experience in the political sphere, Taros has been the Treasurer and member of the Parish Council of his Greek Orthodox church in addition to assuming other roles in his community. He also was a member of the Board of Directors of the Crossroads for Youth, which helps at-risk juveniles, and the Leadership Committee of Bloomfield Hills High Schools.

Taros describes himself at a constitutional conservative and has attended Tea Party events accross the country. He is running for office because he is “sick and tired of electing so-called conservative Republicans only to see them reach across the aisle to vote with Democrats to raise our taxes, increase the size of government, and pass laws that infringe on our civil liberties,” according to his campaign’s website.

Taros believes that the Common Core curriculum for Michigan’s public schools should be eliminated, is also pro-life, in favor of the Second Amendment and cracking down on sanctuary cities.

Taros live in Birmingham.

For more information about Paul Tarros, visit his website by clicking here.


David Wolkinson

32-year-old Republican running for the 40th State Legislative District


Image courtesy of Wolkinson for Michigan.

David Wolkinson, a 32-year-old with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics and a J.D. in Law from the University of Michigan is running for the 40th District seat in the State Legislature.

The former Vice Chairman for the Michigan Republican Party worked with Governor Rick Snyder as his policy director and is now President of Bentzion Properties, a series of multi-family apartment complexes he owns and operates.

Wolkinson seeks to completely eliminate the Corporate Income Tax—along with all business taxes. He claims that this will be an advantage over other Midwestern states, and Michigan’s economy will grow vastly. Wolkinson believes in reforming our public schools and spending tax dollars carefully. He points to Jeb Bush’s success with Florida schools for inspiration, citing Bush’s work during his terms as Governor. The budget for education should also be re-evaluated, Wolkinson advocates, through a series of steps that can be found on his official website,, along with additional goals.

Wolkinson lives near Birmingham

For more information about David Wolkinson, visit his website by clicking here.


Joe Zane

47 year-old Republican running for the 40th State Legislative District


Photo courtesy of Joe Zane For Michigan

Zane attended the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, then went to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

After graduating from the Annapolis military college, Zane worked in the Pentagon, and is now a major in the Marine Corps Reserves.

Zane says that, if-elected, he will support the military and first responders, back the cultivation of modern jobs in Michigan, promote a higher standard of public education, and repair aging infrastructure.

He has been endorsed by The Detroit News, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, the Michigan Retailers Association and Right to Life of Michigan PAC.

Zane and his wife, Heather, live in Birmingham with their daughters, Miriam, 5, and Vivian, 3.

For more information on John Zane, visit his website by clicking here.


Nicole Bedi

39-year-old Democrat running for the 40th State Legislative District


Photo courtesy of Bedi’s official campaign website

Nicole Bedi grew up Downriver and currently lives in Birmingham with her husband and two daughters. She is a registered dietitian, and has spent fifteen years aiding ill individuals in the hospital. Her immigrant father served in the U.S. Navy, and ran a hair salon with her mother. Her interest in public service began when she witnessed a shooting in the hospital she works at, only to then see lawmaker’s inaction on the issue.

Bedi was a participant at emerge Michigan and Emerge American in 2016, she worked in infusion services at Walgreens from 2013-2014, she worked as needed as a dietitian in the San Francisco General Hospital from 2012-2013, she was the team leader dietitian at Brigham and Women’s Hospital from 2004-2011, and as a clinical dietitian at the Quincy Medical Center from 2002-2004.

Nicole Bedi commits to providing quality public education to all, preventing gun violence through gun control laws, improving Michigan’s healthcare, prioritizing families and improving infrastructure.

She has been endorsed by Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union, the Michigan Association for Justice, the Oakland County Democratic Black Caucus, and has received a favorable rating from Planned Parenthood as well as distinction from the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

She is married to a transplant surgeon and together they have two daughters, Kavia, 6, and Mahalie, 3.

For more information on Nicole Bedi, visit her website by clicking here.


Mari Manoogian

25-year-old Democrat running for the 40th State Legislative District


Photo courtesy of Manoogian’s LinkedIn

Mari Manoogian, a third-generation Armenian-American and a Seaholm graduate, graduated from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and security policy. She also earned her masters degree in global communication and international law and organizations from the Elliott School at George Washington University.

Manoogian entered public service interning with former retired Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., as well as for former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

Manoogian supports greater teacher compensation, making healthcare affordable to more Michiganders, increased government transparency and, hinting at liberal sentiments, preventing corporations like Nestlé from profiting off of the State’s natural resources while the funding protecting them is incessantly slashed.

Mari Manoogian is a Birmingham native and is unmarried without children.

For more information on Mari Manoogian, visit her website by clicking here.


The 13th State Senate District

13th state senate

Screengrab courtesy of the Michigan Department of State

One Republican and one Democrat are running unopposed in their party’s primary for the 13th State Senate seat. The position is currently held by Republican Marty Knollenberg who is set to face Democrat Mallory McMorrow this November. The district they’re competing to represent includes Berkeley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Clawson, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak and Troy.


Mallory McMorrow

Democrat running for State Senate in Michigan’s 13th district


Prompted by to do so after hearing President Trump’s words about and alleged actions against women, college-educated designer Mallory McMarrow is running unopposed in the Democratic Primary for the 13th Michigan State Senatorial District.

McMorrow’s aspirations include becoming a crusader for women’s issues at the state level, improving education and siding with teachers, promoting higher standards of government ethics, as well as investing in Michigan’s aging infrastructure.

McMorrow has been endorsed by the Progressive Women’s Caucus, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, and State Representative and former Royal Oak mayor Jim Ellison.

McMorrow has been a Royal Oak resident since 2015 and lives with her husband and two daughters.

McMorrow is preparing to face 13th District incumbent Republican Marty Knollenberg in November.

For more information regarding Mallory McMarrow, visit her website by clicking here


Marty Knollenberg

54-year-old Republican incumbent running for re-election in the 13th State Senate District


Marty Knollenberg attended Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham Public Schools and went to Albion College. He has been a small business owner for the past 27 years.

In 2003, he was first elected into office as a county commissioner representing the cities of Troy and Rochester Hills, where he also served on the finance, general government and building & planning committees. He also represented the 41st Michigan State House of Representatives District  from 2006 to 2012.

Knollenberg was first elected to State Senate in 2014 and serves on the finance, regulatory reform, subcommittee on corrections, subcommittee on transportation committees. He’s a chair on subcommittee on licensing and regulatory affairs as well as  subcommittee on Michigan merit curriculum committee.

If re-elected elected into Senate, Knollenberg wishes to advocate for improvement on the protection of seniors regarding a fixed income, improving Michigan’s roads, keeping taxes low, reducing government waste, streamline regulations towards better paying jobs, and having higher quality education.

Marty Knollenberg lives in Oakland County with his wife, Lori.

Knollenberg is preparing to face Democratic challenger Mallory McMarrow in November.

For more information on Marty Knollenberg, visit his website by clicking here.


Other Elections

The 9th U.S. Congressional District

9th congressional.png

Screengrab courtesy of the Michigan Department of State

Candidates for the 9th Congressional District, which transcends areas of varied socio-economic status, are listed below with a link to their website.

Republican Candius Stearns

Democrat Martin Brook

Democrat Andy Levin

Democrat Ellen Lipton


12th State Senate District

12th state senate

Screengrab courtesy of the Michigan Department of State
Candidates in the 12th State Senate District:
Republican Michael McCready

Republican Vernon Molnar

Republican Jim Tedder

Republican Terry Whitney

Democrat Rosemary Bayer

Libertarian Jeff Pittel 


Didn’t see your district on this list? Click hereto see the Oakland County Elections Division’s official candidate list of primary candidates. 

This report was compiled by Cece Cousins, Claire Kowalec, Asher Leukhardt, Sarah Patterson and Griffin Powers.

This story was last updated at 4:13 A.M. on August 7, 2018

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