Coffia wins close House race | Local News


TRAVERSE CITY — In an election that came down to the wire, voters appear to have picked Democratic candidate Betsy Coffia over state Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann.

Coffia, a Grand Traverse County commissioner, declared victory on social media early Wednesday, with voters picking her by 27,805 to 27,040 for O’Malley, according to the Associated Press. Those unofficial tallies included an estimated 99 percent of votes cast.

Record-Eagle stories focusing on the Grand Traverse area’s 2022 elections and related issues:

“I’m really, really humbled by this community choosing to give me the opportunity to serve them in the 103rd, and I’m just deeply aware of how hard so many people worked to help us get this win, knocking on doors, registering voters, chipping in with what they could,” she said Wednesday.

She credited her campaign as being pivotal in shifting the state Legislature from Republican dominance to putting Democrats in the majority. Coffia said she believes voters gave the Democratic party the majority in both chambers for the first time in decades because they’re counting on them to protect the environment, work on housing and lower healthcare costs.

That third item is particularly important for Coffia, who said she grew up in a family that couldn’t always afford to go to the doctor when they were sick.

“I am so passionate about closing the gap so that every Michigander can get the care that they need and not worry about going bankrupt,” she said.

Voters also spoke clearly in support of protecting the right to privacy and keeping government out of difficult family planning decisions when they approved Proposal 3, Coffia said — the ballot measure added the right to an abortion and other reproductive care to the state constitution.

O’Malley acknowledged his loss in a social media post, expressing disappointment in the results, but pride in representing the district for two terms and his campaign’s efforts.

“Betsy Coffia has earned the voters’ trust to be the next state representative for the 103rd,” he wrote. “I congratulate Betsy on her win and wish her the best as she transitions into the position.”

Reached Wednesday, O’Malley said he still has a few bills he wants to see through before his term ends. Those include a bill that would allow in-home childcare businesses to operate in other venues besides the caregiver’s home. Another would ease restrictions on drivers with epilepsy, cutting the period they must be seizure-free down to three months from six.

The 103rd District will include all of Leelanau and parts of Benzie and Grand Traverse counties, maps show.

For other House districts in the Grand Traverse region, Republican representatives won their reelection bids by hefty margins.

John Roth


Cathy Albro

Cathy Albro

Roth wins 104th

State Rep. John Roth, formerly of Traverse City but now of Interlochen, said he was happy voters re-elected him over Democratic challenger Cathy Albro, 29,577 to 17,611 votes.

But the shifting political landscape — Roth said state Republicans took a “shellacking” in the election — had him wondering what his next term would be like as a member of the House minority.

“It’s a tough thing,” he said. “I’m hoping I can work together with the other side and get a few bills passed, so we’ll see if I get that opportunity.”

Roth said his first priority would be to make relationships with Democrat representatives to see where they could cooperate.

While a sitting president’s party typically fares poorly in midterm elections, Roth said he never figured Michigan voters were set to elect Republicans in a huge wave. He believes abortion was a major issue for voters statewide despite pre-election polling suggesting its importance was fading, and that could have prompted some to switch parties.

Albro said she was disappointed by the results, and surprised by her margin of defeat.

“I knew it would be a stretch to win it but I didn’t realize that the percentages would be as low, or my percentage would be so low, because I really feel like there was a lot of momentum and positive feedback on what I stood for and what I would do for people once elected,” she said.

It’s likely the last campaign for Albro, she said. But she’ll work to recruit a new candidate, and keep volunteering to help northwest Michigan in other ways.

The 104th District will include most of Grand Traverse County and parts of Antrim, Benzie, Kalkaska, Manistee and Wexford counties, maps show.

Borton wins 105th

Rep. Ken Borton, R-Gaylord, handily won reelection in a substantially redrawn 105th District, beating Democratic challenger Adam Wojdan 31,044 to 13,691.

A message was left for Borton Wednesday.

Wojdan said he wished Borton the best and offered to help in any way the lawmaker needs.

“It was a good race, it was a clean race so I’m OK with that, I’m happy,” Wojdan said.

He didn’t rule out a future run but said it depends on “where my life’s at” by then.

The 105th District will include all of Crawford, Missaukee, Otsego and Roscommon counties, plus parts of Antrim, Kalkaska and Oscoda counties, maps show.

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