GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Rep. Roy Schmidt won the chance in the Aug. 7 primary to hold on to his 76th House District seat. He'll be on the November ticket, despite changing parties at the last minute in a scandal that captured headlines for weeks.
It was a tense night for Schmidt as early figures showed write-in opponent Bing Goei in the lead. As the night wore on, the gap between the two closed and by 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, it was fairly certain that Schmidt would be the winner.
But new information obtained Wednesday shows that it was votes cast before the polls opened that gave Schmidt the winning edge.
Many of those votes were likely cast before the the details came out publicly that Schmidt pulled a fast one in his party switch in the eleventh hour and lied about his role in offering to pay a fake Democratic candidate to run against him.
The headlines set off two write-in campaigns: Winnie Brinks ran for the Democratic nomination and Bing Goei ran against Schmidt as a Republican.
Grand Rapids City Clerk Lori Parks said they were the most powerful write-in campaigns she's ever seen.
Schmidt won the election by less than a thousand votes. But in terms of voters that actually cast their ballots at the polls Tuesday, he was not the winner.
Preliminary numbers show more than 2,433 voters (with some votes still being tallied as of Wednesday) wrote-in Goei at the voting booths.
Schmidt earned only 1,900 votes from the voting booths. 1,431 absentee votes, most of which were cast before election day, made up the difference and gave him the Republican nomination for the seat.
Those numbers are preliminary and are still being finalized.
"The people that know me, that know my record, are steadfast behind me," said Schmidt Wednesday. "They're more encouraged than ever, because people in their hearts, if they know you and know you have a good record, they want to forgive."
He also said people had a chance to go back and change their ballots after they learned of the scandal.
Schmidt said he supports efforts to make actions like his illegal and wishes they had been before the mess started to unfold. He said that may have prevented the whole thing from happening.
The vote that really counts is in November. It's still a possibility that Goei could run as a write-in again, and if he chooses to do so, he'll have much more time to campaign.
But that announcement has yet to be made as all parties decide what they're going to do moving forward.
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