Michigan Democrats win special elections to regain full control of state government

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democrats won back a majority in the Michigan House and restored their party’s full control of state government Tuesday thanks to victories in two special elections.

Mai Xiong won the special election in the 13th District, which covers Warren and part of Detroit, while Peter Herzberg won in the 25th District, which contains the cities of Wayne and Westland. Both candidates were favorites in the heavily Democratic districts.

The lower chamber has been tied 54-54 between Democratic and Republican lawmakers since November, when two Democratic representatives vacated their seats after winning mayoral races in their hometowns.

Democrats flipped both chambers in the 2022 midterms while maintaining control of the governor’s office to win a trifecta for the first time in 40 years. They moved quickly to roll back decades of Republican measures and implement the party’s agenda in their first year, including overhauling the state’s gun laws.

Since the House deadlocked, Republicans have pushed to pass legislation they say is bipartisan, such as a government transparency package, which would open the Legislature and governor’s office up to public record requests.

With each Democratic candidate winning Tuesday, the party will regain control through the end of the year, with every seat in the House up for reelection in November.

Xiong is a Macomb County commissioner who was endorsed in the primary by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Herzberg is a Westland City Council member who defeated a Whitmer-endorsed candidate in the primary earlier this year.

Lawmakers are now expected to turn their focus to a state budget with a self-imposed July 1 deadline. Whitmer in her annual State of the State speech in January called on lawmakers to pass a $80 billion budget that would provide free community college for all high school graduates and free preschool for 4-year-olds.

In recent months, Democrats have also deliberated on expanding the state’s hate crime law and enacting a comprehensive school safety package of bills in the wake of the 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School.

Lawmakers will be working against the clock. They are set to take a summer break at the end of June and representatives will soon begin campaigning in their districts.

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