Obama takes Mich. for 2nd time on way to 2nd term

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 1:31 am •  Published: November 7, 2012
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Democratic Rep. Gary Peters won another term, defeating Republican John Hauler in a redrawn southeast Michigan district. Peters was the first white candidate supported by The Black Slate, a Detroit activist coalition, and will fill a traditionally black seat in Congress.

It also was a winning night for two of the longest-serving congressmen in U.S. history. Democratic Rep. John Conyers won his 25th term in Congress, while Democrat John Dingell won a 29th. Dingell, the longest currently serving House member, has been in Congress since 1955.

While the presidential and congressional races led Michigan's packed ballot, tens of millions of campaign dollars also were spent on six ballot proposals that had nothing to do with candidates — but at least one delivered a blow to Gov. Rick Snyder.

Voters defeated a proposal that would have kept the state's sweeping emergency mangers law on the books. The had allowed state-appointed managers to dismiss local elected leaders and negate union contracts in municipalities and school districts deemed to be in fiscal emergencies.

Snyder championed the law and argued the state must be able help Michigan's struggling areas. He has appointed managers in five cities and three school districts since signing the law last year.

Critics argued the law was a state power grab that usurped local elected officials' rights.

Attorney Michelle Harrell, 46, said she typically votes Republican but opposed this particular priority of the GOP governor.

"They take the power too far," Harrell said of emergency managers. "To suddenly say, 'I'm going to stop paying you,' is undemocratic."

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville has said he and fellow Republicans have a proposal for a law to replace the one shot down by voters, but haven't released details because it's under legal review.

But the news wasn't all good for labor in Michigan. A measure that would have guaranteed collective bargaining rights for public and private employees in the state constitution and another that would have given permission for home health care workers to form unions also failed.

Voters also rejected an initiative that called for changing the constitution to require a referendum on any plan for a new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The campaign was backed by billionaire Manuel "Matty" Moroun, owner of the private Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, in response to a competing bridge proposed this year by Michigan and Ontario.

"I don't have a problem amending the constitution if it's for the betterment of all the people. But Matty Moroun's monopoly has got to end," said Frank Yoakam, 38, a general contractor in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Also failing were a measure to order utilities to produce 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and a measure to make tax increases contingent on a two-thirds legislative vote of approval.

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Associated Press writers Jeff Karoub, Ed White, David Aguilar, Mike Householder, Corey Williams, John Flesher and Larry Lage contributed to this report.