GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) —
Democrat Winnie Brinks defeated incumbent Democrat-turned-Republican
Roy Schmidt in the Grand Rapids race for the
76th District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives.
With 69% of precincts reporting, Brinks led Schmidt 59% to 31%.
Independent Keith Allard and US Taxpayer William Mohr each took 4% of the vote, and Libertarian Patricia Steinport took 3%. Write-in Bing Goei took 0%.
Brinks, the 44-year-old married mother of three girls, currently
is a caseworker at The Source and previously was the Executive Director of The One Way House.
In response to a
candidate questionnaire from WOOD TV8, Brinks said, "Michigan residents have every right to expect that their state government should work efficiently and spend their tax dollars wisely. Spending money wisely does not mean, however, that we cut programs and services that are essential to our residents, or that we pay for state services by increasing the tax burden on those who can least afford it: middle-class families and senior citizens. Everyone benefits from a strong infrastructure, public safety, education, and other essential services the state offers. We need to ensure that businesses receiving tax credits are actually creating jobs. The tax burden should not fall too heavily on the middle class and senior citizens. Our tax structure should be simple and fair, with everyone contributing to generate the necessary revenue for essential services."
Schmidt's switch from the Democrats to the Republicans at the May filing deadline threw the race for the 76th District completely up in the air.
It brought primary challenges for Schmidt - from Brinks on the Democratic side and Bing Goei for the Republicans. Both were write-in candidates. Brinks garnered enough votes to gain entry onto the November ballot, while Goei barely lost his write-in challenge against Schmidt.
A report from the Michigan State Police after their investigation included text messages between Schmidt and
Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) as they set up the fake candidacy, and between Schmidt's son Ryan and Mojzak.
In a scathing report,
Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth said in July that although Schmidt's party-switch to become a Republican was "clearly designed to undermine the election and to perpetrate a 'fraud' on the electorate,"
it was not illegal under Michigan law.
Forsyth continued, "Whether anyone other than Rep. Schmidt and Speaker(Jase) Bolger was involved in this plan is irrelevant in the context of a criminal investigation; it was not illegal. Incredibly, while it would be illegal to pay a boxer to take a 'dive' or a basketball player to 'point-shave', it is not currently a crime in Michigan to recruit someone to run for public office, place them on the ballot at the 'eleventh hour and essentially pay them to make no effort to win."
Schmidt was not seen often during the general campaign and did not respond to the questionnaire.
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Michigan is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification.