GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A Democrat has stepped forward to challenge Rep. Roy Schmidt (R-Grand Rapids) for his seat after he switched parties earlier this year.
Winnie Brinks will be the Democratic write-in candidate for the 76th District seat, according to Michigan Democratic leaders.
Rep. Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek) and Rep. Brandon Dillion (D-Grand Rapids) will introduce Brinks at the Kent County Administration Building on Friday morning.
Brinks, a political newcomer, will still have to file the proper paper work and qualify as a write-in candidate.
Assuming no one else does the same, she will run unopposed -- but that doesn't mean she will transfer immediately to the November ballot.
A qualified write-in running unopposed still has to garner 5% of the highest vote total for a candidate in the primary for the district they hope to represent.
In this case, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow running unopposed at the top of the ticket and likely to be the single biggest vote getter, Brinks will have to get 5% of the votes Stabenow earns in the 76th District.
Doing some preliminary figuring, that could be a few hundred votes.
Schmidt, who served as the representative for the Grand Rapids area as a Democrat for two terms, abruptly switched parties in mid-May. He said he made the switch to better serve the people of Grand Rapids, citing what he called state Democratic leaders' unwillingness to listen to his ideas.
The Michigan Democratic Party, displeased with Schmidt's sudden party change, called the move "cowardly" and "craven."
State Democrats asked for an inquiry into Schmidt and the Michigan Republican leaders, alleging that Schmidt, Speaker of the House Jase Bolger and Bolger's chief of staff used state resources to help Schmidt make the switch from the Democrat to Republican party,
Additionally, the Kent County Prosecutor has asked state police to investigate allegations of election fraud involving the candidate who filed to run against Schmidt as a Democrat then withdrew from the race.
Officials familiar with the case, including the Kent Count Prosecutor, told 24 Hour News 8 they do not know how muck longer that investigation will continue.
24 Hour News 8's Rick Albin contributed to this report.
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