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Gov. Whitmer sets April 16 election date for vacant state House seats

kevin coleman and lori stone headshots
State Reps. Kevin Coleman and Lori Stone, both Democrats, were elected mayors of Westland and Warren, respectively. Their victories will at least temporarily cost Democrats their advantage in the House. (Courtesy)
  • Special elections called for two vacant House seats that left House at 54-54 tie
  • Primaries will take place Jan. 30, general elections to be held April 16
  • Both seats trend Democratic, and Democrats still hold the speaker’s gavel

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday set April special elections to replace two lawmakers, guaranteeing the House will remain deadlocked 54-54 tie until then.

Ending two weeks of speculation, Whitmer called for Jan. 30 primaries and April 16 general elections to succeed Reps. Lori Stone, D-Warren, and Kevin Coleman, D-Westland, in the heavily Democratic districts.


Both Stone and Coleman won local mayoral elections earlier this month, vacating their seats in the Legislature and eroding Democrats’ majority control. 

"The Michigan Legislature had one of the most productive sessions in Michigan history thanks to Michiganders who elected leaders, like state representatives Coleman and Stone, to get things done on the issues that make a real difference in people’s lives," Whitmer said in a statement. 


Candidates have until 4 p.m. Nov. 27 to file for positions. 

Coleman and Stone’s victories helped spur a rush by legislative Democrats to pass priorities while they still held an outright majority including: repeals of abortion restrictions, energy mandates to require clean power by 2040, legislation granting state officials permitting authority over big renewable energy projects and bills requiring limited disclosure of financial assets from state public officials and candidates. 

Many of those votes split along party lines. Moving forward, the House’s tie prevents the caucus from passing bills without some support from Republicans. 

The Legislature adjourned early for the year on Nov. 14, delaying a test of the first deadlocked House since 1994. 


House rules stipulate that Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, will retain control of the Legislature in the interim, but the looming tie complicates an already-complicated process of advancing Democratic priorities.

Disagreements among Democrats in recent weeks have blocked a change to local property tax rules backed by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, triggered major revisions to the abortion rights bills supported by Whitmer and bogged down a package codifying financial disclosure rules lawmakers were constitutionally required to implement by the end of the year.

Setting the date for special elections has been complicated by new voting rules that mandate nine days of early balloting as well as a presidential primary on Feb. 27. Local clerks have complained that scheduling so many elections would tax their offices.

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