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Public safety, roads key issues for Ananich, Daunt heading into 27th Senate District general election

FLINT, MI -- In a low-key race that drew less than ten percent of local voters, state Rep. Jim Ananich said he wasn’t even aware when the race had been called in his favor.

Ananich, Stanley react to 27th Senate District primary race

After receiving word he won the majority vote, State Rep. Jim Ananich gives a large hug to Laurie Abdella of Flint while he celebrates with his watch party on March 12, 2013 at Luigi's Restaurant in Flint, Mich. after maintaining a large lead in 27th Senate District primary. "I'm really happy with the results," said the Flint Democrat of the figures showing him with 7,352 votes to second-place challenger state Rep. Woodrow Stanley's 2,604 votes with 122 of 141 precincts reporting in the special primary for the 27th Senate District seat. "We worked really hard and ran an aggressive grassroots campaign and all the hard work paid off." Jake May | 

“To be honest with you, I didn’t know I’d won until people started clapping,” said Ananich, a former Flint schools teacher who came out as the top-vote getter Tuesday, March 12 during a special 27th Senate District primary election to fill out the term ending in 2014.

He will face Republican challenger Robert Daunt, a Flint real estate professional, who expects to ratchet up efforts for the head-to-head May 7 general election.

“I’m sure there will be a different attention to the race for the final (in May),” said Daunt. “I spent probably about $200 on the campaign. I plan on having some fundraisers and help behind me and hopefully do some new things.”

Daunt finished fourth of the seven candidates on the open ballot with 1,025 votes, but first among the two Republicans in the race. The special primary election was called for after John Gleason won the position of Genesee County clerk/register during the November 2012 election and resigned from the seat to take on his new duties.

Second-place finisher Woodrow Stanley, the current 34th District state representative, said he was disappointed with the results, but noted “You launch (a campaign) with two notions: one is to win, one is to lose. While there is a numerical loss, I gained a lot of supporters that are going to move forward with me.”

When asked if previous statements or issues may have played a part in his second-place finish, Stanley said “I don’t know.” He was recalled in 2002 as mayor of Flint after three terms, after which he served as county commissioner before winning his first House of Representatives term in November 2008.

As for his political future, Stanley said while finishing out his third and final term as state representative "I'm going to take a little time and see if there's some office I'd like to run for. I'm not done with public service" while congratulating Ananich on the victory.

Ananich, who lost his first state representative bid in 2004 to former 49th District state Rep. Lee Gonzales by one percentage point, said it’s the hard work on the campaign trail that’s made him successful.

“We knocked on over 20,000 doors, made over 40,000 phone calls talking to voters,” said Ananich, thanking the electorate for their support. “I lost over 25 pounds (during the campaign). “My suits appreciate it too.”

Ed Sarpolus, a consultant on the Stanley campaign, said they expect Ananich to do well in the out county area, but they were hoping for strong support in the form of absentee ballots, voters within the city of Flint and county commissioner Ted Henry who finished third to draw votes away from Ananich.

“We went to our base, worked our base. For the Stanley campaign, we did our work,” said Sarpolus. Precinct workers in the city reported low voter turnouts, as well as small totals in polling locations in Flushing and Genesee Township.

Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics, said while Stanley held a strong base in the north end of Flint he lacked support in other areas. The 27th Senate District encompasses the townships of Argentine, Clayton, Fenton, Flint, Flushing, Gaines, Genesee, Montrose and Mundy and the cities of Fenton, Flint, Flushing, Linden, Montrose and Swartz Creek.

“He’s got strength in both the city and Flint Township and Swartz Creek,” said Ballenger of Ananich, while also pointing to the large amount of mailings sent out by the campaign and television commercials ran leading up to the primary.

Ballenger said interest in the election wasn't high-profile with political talking heads across the state because there will be no shift in voting power in the state Senate -- with Republicans holding a more than 2-to-1 advantage.

“For that reason, I don’t think people think it’s very important,” he said, but Ananich and Daunt noted there are several issues important to local residents that need to be addressed in the state legislature.

Ananich said “public safety is extremely important and getting things done is what people want from their elected officials” as well as bringing more jobs into the community. He pointed to his legislative past in tackling the issues of jail overcrowding, scrap metal theft and prescription drug abuse.

Daunt said public safety and jobs are important, along with educational improvement and work on deteriorating roads.

“You can’t drive down the street without thinking about it. There’s a real problem,” said Daunt, who ran an unsuccessful campaign in November 2012 for Ananich 47th House District seat. “It’s a shame the Republicans have to talk about increasing taxes, but that’s what may have to be done.”

While saying he would be “realistic” about the uphill climb he faces in May in a heavily Democratic district, Daunt said “Hopefully we will draw more people out.”

“We’ll just wait and see. I didn’t do much door to door,” he said. “I know Jim spent a ton of money on TV and a lot of mailers. Hopefully I will have a little more help this time.”

Ananich said it’s been hard work that’s brought him to this point in his political career, and no matter who the opponent was in May, he would employ the same strategy.

“I run hard campaigns no matter who I’m running against. We ran an aggressive campaign in the city and out county, and the results show hard work everywhere is what won it for us,” Ananich said. “It's not a secret; it's hard work. Most people don't do it. We are going to continue to knock on doors and talk with voters.”

Roberto can be reached by phone at 810-429-3865, email at, on Facebook at Roberto Acosta or on Twitter @racostaJourno.

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