Michigan Election Results Mean End of Kilpatrick Era

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., appears at her primary night election party in Detroit, Wednesday morning, Aug. 6, 2008. Kilpatrick, the mother of Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, fought to save her political career Tuesday in a primary election driven by a City Hall scandal involving her son. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Last night in Michigan, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, who had served seven terms, lost to State Sen. Hansen Clarke in the Democratic primary. The loss was due at least in part to the fall of Kilpatrick's son Kwame, and means that a once-prominent political family will have been swept out of public office.

Kwame Kilpatrick, of course, was mayor of Detroit until 2008, when he resigned amid a series of scandals. He ultimately went to jail for violating probation in May. (He has since been indicted on 19 counts of fraud and tax evasion.) His mother was dogged by questions about her son on the campaign trail, with NPR noting that "at almost every news event" she held, "the first questions center less on her work than on allegations her son faces."

Clarke, stating that "the image of the region is tainted by Detroit's reputation of being represented by arrogant, corrupt, self-serving politicians," stressed that he "can change the image so that we have a fresher one that'll attract jobs and investment here."

The Kilpatrick loss wasn't the only interesting race in Michigan last night: Rick Snyder, a former Gateway executive who cast himself as "one tough nerd," won the GOP nomination for governor, defeating more established politicians Attorney General Mike Cox and Rep. Pete Hoekstra in the process.

Snyder was the most moderate GOP candidate, and also the one with the most outsider credibility - suggesting that voters in Michigan may have been more concerned with electing someone lacking Washington connections than a candidate making a play for the far reaches of the right. The self-financed Snyder stressed the economy, not social issues.

He'll face off in November against Democrat Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, in the race to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

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