Oakland County the 'epicenter' of Michigan's blue wave in midterm elections

By John Counts, MLive

The once-reliable Republican enclave of Oakland County turned blue on election night.

Democrats there won four congressional races, flipped four seats in the Michigan Legislature and gained a majority on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners for the first time in 40 years.

"They won everything," said Oakland University political science professor David Dulio. "Nationally there was no blue wave but there was a lot of localized flooding. That localized flooding was really significant here in Michigan and I think you could say Oakland County was the epicenter of that."

From activist to senator

The victory of Rosemary Bayer to the state senate is emblematic of what happened in Michigan's wealthiest county on election night. It's the story of a woman who had never held office before toppling a member of the Republican establishment.

The engineer worked in the private sector her entire career, mostly with computer companies including Sun Microsystems. She was motivated to get into politics after the election of Trump in 2016.

"Like many people, I was pretty upset about the 2016 presidential election," Bayer said. "I was worried enough about it that I volunteered and campaigned for Hillary (Clinton, and and) I have not worked on a campaign since I was in college. But I was very concerned about what might happen. When it did, I was one of those people that kind of jumped up off the couch and got engaged in a lot of different ways."

But volunteering wasn't enough for Bayer, of Beverly Hills. The 59-year-old figured she'd throw her hat in the ring in the state's 12th senate race. The seat had been held since 2010 by Republican Jim Marleau, who couldn't run due to term limits. Bayer's opponent was Michael McCready, an established Republican member of the Michigan House from Bloomfield Hills.

Bayer had never run for office before. She admits she was nervous. "It was a little terrifying," she said. "I really didn't know (anything). I had a team of volunteers who also didn't know what we were doing. It really was a grassroots campaign for quite a while."

The 12th District is as diverse as it gets in Michigan, stretching from the ritzy suburbs of Bloomfield Township and Franklin up to Pontiac and areas suburban and rural in between. "We have a lot of differences from one end to the other," she said. "But every person I talked to hates the way we fund our education system. Everybody is worried about the water. Everybody is worried about the cost of healthcare and prescriptions. So there's some really basic things that everyone's going to be happy with when we make them better."

Bayer said she encountered many folks who identify as Republicans while campaigning in the district, an experience that gave her some insight into the current political moment. "Most of them were not really Republicans in the sense that the Trump administration and that group of people are Republicans. They're more centrists," she said. "The labeling is what gets us into trouble. We are artificially divided into groups, but I don't think most people belong on either edge."

The race was a squeaker. Bayer beat McCready 48.65 percent to 49.34 percent - by just 935 votes.

"I think this is a transition that began awhile back," she said about Oakland County turning blue. "I think part of it is women getting more active, and more independent in the way they approach these things. Generationally, women often voted the way their dads and their husbands did. I think that's shifting now. That's a piece of it. But I also think overall, in the county, people are becoming a little more Democratic in their value systems."

See the entire article and read about the other Oakland County races and results at > https://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/11/election_results_has_oakland_c.html

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