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Posted on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 10:41 p.m.

Irwin edges past Staebler for 53rd District state rep seat; Warren solidly defeats Byrnes in Senate race

By Ryan J. Stanton


18th District state Senate candidate Rebekah Warren gives a speech to her supporters after finding out she won her race at Arbor Brewing Co.

Angela J. Cesere |

Ann Arbor area voters have chosen Rebekah Warren and Jeff Irwin as the Democratic nominees in two hotly contested state legislative races.

Unofficial results show Warren cruised past opponent Pam Byrnes 13,113 to 9,539 in the 18th District state Senate primary race with all precincts reporting. Thomas Partridge, a third candidate in the race, picked up 908 votes.

Irwin narrowly defeated Ned Staebler 5,051 to 4,845 in the 53rd District state House race, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting.

"It was a tough campaign, and Ned Staebler ran a wonderful race," said Irwin, who celebrated victory tonight with supporters at Arbor Brewing Co.


Supporter Mark Perry, right, congratulates 53rd District state House candidate Jeff Irwin on his win.

Angela J. Cesere |

"We have a lot of hard work to do up in Lansing," said Irwin, who has served on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners for the past 11 years. "I'm going to try to do a lot of listening to the voters and do a lot of work up in Lansing to turn our state around and start investing in the people and places that make Michigan a great place."

Staebler gave an emotional speech before a crowd of supporters gathered in the basement of Cafe Habana. He choked up while talking about how hard he and his supporters worked on the campaign, one he said was about making Michigan a better place so hopefully his son would want to stay here someday after college.

"Obviously, I don't think this was the speech I was hoping to give tonight, but that's the beauty of democracy. You never know what speech you're going to end up giving at the end of the night," said Staebler, a vice president for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. who outpaced Irwin in both fundraising and support, but couldn't overcome the hurdle he faced going up against a longtime politician.

"This race wasn't about being state representative for Ann Arbor," Staebler said. "And this race wasn't about working in Lansing or having a title or a job. This work was about my friends and my family, your kids, your grandkids, and our future and how bright it is and how important it is that we recognize that."

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group that endorsed Warren in the Senate race, issued a statement tonight.


Annie Staebler, right, listens as her husband, Ned Staebler, left, gives a speech to his supporters at Cafe Habana in downtown Ann Arbor.

Angela J. Cesere |

"Rebekah's victory is not only a win for Washtenaw County, but for the whole of Michigan," said Lisa Wozniak, LCV executive director.

"In the state House, she was a champion for the environment, the Great Lakes, and her constituents, and I have every confidence that she will continue in that same decisive role in the state Senate," Wozniak said. "Michigan LCV was proud to endorse and fight alongside her throughout this tough primary fight and I am looking forward to doing so as she moves on through November and then on to Lansing."

Warren will take on Republican John Hochstetler in November. Hochstetler had 7,973 votes to Gary Wellings' 5,463 in the Republican primary race for the 18th District.

Irwin takes on Republican Chase Ingersoll of Ann Arbor in November. Ingersoll ran unopposed in today's 53rd District primary on the GOP side of the ticket.

But the Republican challengers face steep uphill battles in two heavily Democratic districts. In November 2008, the 53rd District vote swung 78 percent in favor of Warren, D-Ann Arbor, who currently holds the seat. In November 2006, the 18th District vote swung 71 percent in favor of Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor, who holds that seat.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 6:23 a.m.

Wow, I wanted to thank you for your in depth coverage of the Republican primary. You folks wonder why there is no longer an Ann Arbor News, at least the Sports section was decent.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 12:46 p.m.

Congrats to Irwin and Warren! Irwin's win especially pleases, as it seemed during the campaign that he was badly outspent and then out-organized as a result. I'm very delighted to have my pessimism proven wrong through his hard work. Politically, he has been a cut above most of the rest in his views and actions on everything from mass transit to education funding to jail expansion and other issues. The sheer lopsidedness of Warren's victory also comes as a pleasant surprise, though I did expect her to win based on track record and superior campaigning skills. The blowout result does much to explain the manic bashing and all-out negativity emanating from the desperate Byrnes camp as primary day drew closer. As a consolation, give Byrnes a private voucher to a non-union charter school where DeVos teaches intelligent design.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 10:28 a.m.

Again, it looks like more Republicans need to get out and vote in November if they're going to win any seats.

Top Cat

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

Good riddance to Pam Byrnes. She was great on symbolism but completely ineffective in the Assembly.

David Cahill

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

Congrats to Rebekah Warren for her decisive victory over both Pam Byrnes and the DeVoses! Rebekah was seriously outspent, but in the end it didn't matter. She showed that a positive campaign can rise above an incoming tide of slime. And congrats to Jeff Irwin! He also was outspent, but the result shows that you can beat the "money power" with good ideas. Also, studies show that the taller of the candidates tends to win. But in this race, the shorter candidate won!


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 8:43 a.m.

The sad reality is, Michigan State Legislators have very little impact on the state of the Michigan economy. Trade Deficits and Foreign policy have decimated our economy and social structure, and these are issues people like Jeff and Ned would have little impact on. So, it is hard for me to get excited about either candidate and what they say about how they will change the future of Michigan.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 8:20 a.m.

Irwin is definitely a nice guy and congratulation to him, but...... we all lost last night when Jeff won. Ned would really have brought us so much more. Sad day.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 7:06 a.m.

The article begins with this: "Voters have elected Democrats Rebekah Warren and Jeff Irwin to represent Ann Arbor in the state Legislature." I thought that this was a primary election. No one has been elected, yet.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 7:01 a.m.

I am pleased & surprised to see Rebekah win with such a huge margin. Both Pam and Rebekah are outstanding people and deserve our respect for all they have done for our Great State. I look forward to better days for us all. Ned, so close, great try! I love your hopes for my Grandchildren's Grandchildren, I hope others can keep in mind at least the seven generations to come.

Julie Martin

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 6:55 a.m.

Well done Jeff!

ellie may

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:52 p.m.

Congrats Jeff. You're work ethic was on display. You beat money with hard work. Your deserve this victory.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:31 p.m.

I'm not a resident anymore, but I've been around Michigan a few times this summer and have paid on-and-off attention to the races. I'd seen an article where Rep. Byrnes was talking about specific steps she planned on taking to ensure an effective use of monies (state/gas taxes I think?) to get some matched money from the federal level for infrastructure repairs... But at the time, I hadn't seen anything specific that Warren had planned. Did she ever lay out what her plan was? I'd be curious (seriously) to see what she has planned. Had I been a resident, I most likely would have voted for Byrnes. I met her as the Cottage Food Bill was passed, and I thank her for her support on that issue. She seemed to have a much better thought out plan than Warren, who seemed to be all talk from what I could tell. With that said, I hope for the best with Warren and look forward to progress (hopefully!). I am curious about what she specifically plans to work on.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:18 p.m.

Consistent with why A2 is going down the toilet!

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 10:37 p.m.

I like Ned on a personal level, but I felt like Irwin was the better choice, so I'm pleased. And, I'm thrilled to see Rebekah Warren oust Pam Byrnes. So far, I'm 2 for 2. Now, I'm dying to know how the A2 mayoral race went.

Alan Benard

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 10:07 p.m.

Too bad. More of the ineffectual same from Ann Arbor's Democratic establishment cronies who don't want nobody nobody sent. Prepare for four more years of no forward movement.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 9:59 p.m.

I think that the most able candidates won. Byrnes' voting with the Republicans likely hurt her. Irwin has the experience and I thought had the best platform.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 9:43 p.m.

FWIW, according to twitter, Irwin won.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 9:24 p.m.

I would love an update. Anything new?