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Michigan campaigns near end for races, proposals

Associated Press Modified: November 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm •  Published: November 5, 2012

DETROIT (AP) — Candidates, their surrogates and those for and against a raft of ballot proposals worked to energize Michigan's electorate in the final hours before Tuesday's election.

Voters will find an overflowing ballot of local, state and national races and initiatives, including those for president, Congress, courts and proposed amendments to the Michigan Constitution. Two highlights include a proposal that would enshrine collective bargaining in the constitution and another asking voters whether the state should be able to appoint emergency managers for broke cities.

Matt Romney and Josh Romney made stops across the state Monday in support of their father, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney — who has emphasized personal ties to his native state but will be hard-pressed to overcome his opposition to the government rescue of General Motors and Chrysler. Polls consistently have shown President Barack Obama ahead in the state, albeit narrowly.

At the Kent County GOP headquarters in conservative western Michigan, Josh Romney echoed his father's campaign's mantra about momentum.

"We feel really good about how things look all across the country, we feel good," Josh Romney said.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder also planned to stump for Romney and against five of the six ballot proposals. Snyder has for weeks been voicing his support for emergency manager measure and opposition for collective bargaining and the other proposals.

Democratic U.S Reps. John Dingell, Gary Peters and John Conyers, meanwhile, joined a five-city tour with community and faith leaders to support the collective bargaining proposal. The veteran lawmakers have aligned themselves with the union-backed proposal and tour took them to labor-friendly communities such Flint, Lansing and Detroit.

Among the most closely watched races is an up-for-grabs seat in the otherwise Republican-leaning 11th District in suburban Detroit. Tea party-backed reindeer rancher and military veteran Kerry Bentivolio faces Democratic Dr. Syed Taj, a Canton Township trustee — a choice made possible by the bizarre political downfall of veteran lawmaker Thaddeus McCotter.

Four of McCotter's ex-campaign staffers were charged in August with forging or falsifying signatures on nominating petitions a month after his resignation. He wasn't charged, but Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has said McCotter was "asleep at the switch."

Taj greeted volunteers at get-out-the-vote canvassing sites in suburban Detroit on Monday, while a Bentivolio spokesman didn't make available the candidate's schedule.

The race is one of three swing seats in the state as Republicans try to maintain their 8-6 advantage in Michigan's congressional delegation. Freshman Republican Reps. Dan Benishek of Crystal Falls and Justin Amash of Kent County's Cascade Township also face stiff tests in the 1st and 3rd districts.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow is seeking a third term after a spirited challenge from former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who won a three-way race for the Republican nomination. With no Democratic primary opposition, Stabenow amassed a big fundraising advantage and spent heavily on television commercials portraying herself as a champion of Michigan manufacturers and farmers. Hoekstra tried linking her to the state's economic struggles, which he blamed on Obama's economic policies.

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