STRAYER: Coming soon to your front door: Political candidates!
The next 10 months are going to give political junkies, campaign veterans, disgruntled Republicans, angry Democrats and the voters of southwestern Michigan the wildest election season anyone has seen in years.
With the exception of our current U.S. Representative Fred Upton, there are no incumbent state legislative officials running for re-election in the primaries in southwestern Michigan. They are either retired through term limits or are leaving their legislative seats for higher office.
Berrien County voters will experience the most primary campaign activity — whether they like it or not — because we will have primaries for State Senator and our two State House districts. Plus, there will be state-wide primaries across Michigan where there will be no incumbents for Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and several other offices.
Our State Senator John Proos cannot run for re-election to his seat representing the 21st State Senate District which includes Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph Counties because of term limits.
The 21st District Republican primary will pit retiring State House Representatives from the 78th and 79th district, and there is still time for others to enter the primary because the filing deadline is April 24, 2018. This is shaping up to be the most exciting race in this primary cycle.
The 78th State House District includes the southern half of Berrien County and most of the eastern portion, along with western Cass County. The 78th includes the cities of Niles, Buchanan, Benton Harbor and Dowagiac.
The soon-to-be open 79th State House District seat includes the western half of Berrien County from Bridgman north to Coloma and Watervliet.
Statewide, there will be a rough and tumble primary for the office of Governor and a potentially divisive Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. Democrat U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is running for re-election, but her Republican opponent will be chosen at the Michigan Primary Election on Aug. 8.
The divisiveness factor comes into play because there are two Republican factions in Michigan: the moderate Republicans versus the more conservative Tea Party wing.
But Democrats will experience a certain level of primary divisiveness themselves because the progressive wing of the Michigan Democratic Party will be taking on the more mainstream and better organized moderate wing.
It should be interesting to see who throws their hat into the ring. It is anticipated that more women and young people than ever will seek election to public office this year.
Be prepared to sign petitions and greet candidates at your front door. Insiders will tell you that the candidates who knock on the most doors will have the advantage. And be extra careful when opening your mailbox and answering your phone!
Bottom lime: If you are still reeling from the 2016 national election, wait about two months when the full 2018 campaign season begins.
Jack Strayer is a native of Niles who moved back home in 2009 after living and working in Washington, D.C. since 1976.