2012 is no throwaway primary.
New redistricting across the state has created entire new constituencies for pols. That's had the effect of also creating unlikely races between some of Michigan's biggest political names -- particularly in the case of Reps. Gary Peters and Hansen Clarke, two well-known Democrats now battling in a new district for a single seat.
In addition to these tough races, Metro Detroiters may vote on two important millages. A 10-year 0.938 millage renewal will fund jail operations and juvenile detention facilities in Wayne County may be weakened by the continual scandals emanating from the office of County Executive Robert Ficano. The $38.8 million will also be used on programs like work release and home arrest, that may save money. The county has already begun construction of a new $300 million jail, and the millage would help pay for operations (as well as cost overruns across the department). It will continue to cost residents $74 a year for a $150,000 house.
What's made more headlines is a three-county millage in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb to fund 10 years of support for the Detroit Institute of the Arts. It would generate $23 million annually for 10 years for the cash-strapped institution, costing $20 for the owner of a $200,000 home. Without additional funding, the museum says it will begin layoffs, closures and other cost-saving measures.
On Oakland County ballots in 23 communities is a two-year renewal of SMART bus funding through a 0.59-mills tax. The SMART millage will cost the owners of a $150,000 property $44.25 a year, and raise $16 million annually.
Confused about the issues? Head to publius.org, a nonprofit voter education site built by Detroiter Vince Keenan. Publius, an interactive voter guide, custom builds sample ballots and gives voting locations for Michiganders who are registered to vote. Plus, it gives voters their sample ballot, delivered alongside videos and websites and candidate surveys so you can make an informed decision.
Find out more about some of Michigan's most contentious races below: