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Posted on Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

Driskell nabs 52nd District seat in Michigan House from Ouimet with 52.9% of the vote

By Amy Biolchini


Gretchen Driskell addresses a crowd gathered during an election night party at Weber's Inn on Tuesday night.

Courtney Sacco I

Editor's note: This story was updated at 8:00 a.m.

Democratic candidate Gretchen Driskell has defeated incumbent and Republican Mark Ouimet for the 52nd District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives in a close race where both parties paid top dollar in the fight to gain partisan control.

With 52.86 percent of the vote, current Saline Mayor Driskell becomes one of Washtenaw County's newest state representatives -- the other being Democrat Adam Zemke, who won his race for the 55th District seat in the House.

Driskell's win also means Washtenaw County will be represented by all Democrats in the Michigan House.

The Washtenaw County Democratic Party had declared Driskell the victor when about 68 percent of the precincts in the district had been reported just after midnight.

The divide between the two candidates has been extremely narrow as results were tabulated Tuesday night. Voter turnout in the 52nd District was about 75 percent.

At the time the Democratic camp named Driskell the winner, 32 of 47 precincts had reported results that had Driskell with 16,286 votes and Ouimet with 16,043 votes.

Driskell said she was confident in the decision to call the race in her favor.

However, when Scio Township results were tabulated at about 2 a.m., Driskell gained a 3,000-vote margin over Ouimet.

In the city of Saline where Driskell has been the mayor for more than a decade, Driskell had a strong lead in the precincts. In the city of Chelsea, Driskell won all of the precincts.

In some precincts in Salem, Sharon and Dexter townships, Ouimet has a lead over Driskell.

Speaking Tuesday night in front of a crowd of excited supporters at the local Democratic party contingent gathering at Weber's Restaurant and Hotel in Ann Arbor, Driskell announced her victory shortly after it was announced that President Barack Obama had won Ohio in the presidential election.

"I've represented people for a long time locally, and I'm looking forward to doing it at the state level," Driskell said in an interview with, explaining she was still in shock with how well the campaign went.

Early on in her campaign, Driskell turned the focus of her campaign to education funding -- a strategy Driskell said Tuesday was a good idea and one that paid off.

Ouimet reportedly spent election night at the Ann Arbor Country Club with the local Republican contingent. However, he declined interviews and spent most of the evening in a private room.

The tone at the country club was decidedly quieter and more subdued than the upbeat cheers that routinely brought the house down at Weber's.

John Taylor, Washtenaw County GOP chairman, said at midnight Tuesday that he was "cautiously optimistic" that Ouimet would win.

"Ouimet has a very good ground game," Taylor said.

Should Ouimet lose the 52nd District race, Washtenaw County would have no Republican representation in the Michigan House.

Taylor said having a Republican voice in the House was important.

"The people need a choice," Taylor said. "We certainly wouldn't want to retain a one-party role."

However, Taylor said that Ouimet lost voters in his district when it came to his position on education.

Follow the results

Keep an eye on the voter tallies as they come in

In precinct 3 in Dexter Township, Ouimet and Driskell each gained 283 votes.

The race for the 52nd District seat got a lot of attention from both Republican and Democratic parties at the state level as the Republicans fought to keep their majority in the Michigan House.

Driskell and Ouimet each poured thousands of dollars into campaign advertising and events, and attack ads quickly surfaced across multiple mediums against each candidate.

Ouimet served on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners before making his run for the State House. He was elected to his first term in the House in 2010 against Democrat Christine Green with 51.7 percent of the vote.

The 52nd District has since been redistricted, and now no longer includes a small portion of Ann Arbor.

The Democratic candidates for the three other Washtenaw County seats in the Michigan House of Representatives are won their races.

Update as of 8:00 a.m. Wednesday:

In the 53rd District, incumbent Jeff Irwin has 80.48 percent of the vote with 49 out of 50 precincts reporting. Irwin's Republican challenger John Spisak has 18.95 percent of the vote.

In the 54th District, incumbent David Rutledge has 76.77 percent of the vote with 38 out of 38 precincts reporting over Republican challenger Bill Emmerich.

In the 55th District with 38 out of 39 precincts reporting, Democratic candidate Adam Zemke won the race with 64.33 percent of the vote over Republican candidate and former Milan Mayor Owen Diaz. Green Party candidate David McMahon has 3.48 percent of the vote.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

This is what pushed me over the edge to vote for Driskell. The Ouimet ad that focused on Driskell spending $35,000 on travel. I wondered, "Was this over 10 years or 1 year?" and "Was it for gov't business?". The ad made it seem that Driskell did something inappropriate. If she had wouldn't have mentioned what it was? Well, they didn't so my conclusion was that they were playing dirty. We're not stupid. Don't treat the voters as if they are.

Basic Bob

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:55 a.m.

@Hallmark, how much has Conan Smith paid back?


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

Not too mention that Oimet is the last person that should ever question fiscal responsibility as the largest abuser of expense accounts by far in the county, which apparently were also inappropriate.

Don Crawford

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

The fliers about Gretchen accepting pay increases during her time as mayor were also an attempt to fool the voters. She makes less than $5,000 a year as mayor, even after all of those "extravagant" raises that were given to her. Mr. Ouimet, like the rest of his Republican friends, only know how to lie, cheat, and steal their way into public office.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

what a bonfire the campaign signs in this race would make...... ...... a fire made from ouimet signage alone would heat the state capitol building for a year


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:36 a.m.



Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

So much for that endorsement.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

The apparent final totals show Driskell's win with 50.4% of the vote, even closer than reported.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 10:36 p.m. Ouimet 17207, Driskell 17460

Ed Jackson

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

I'm not sure where you're seeing that. With all precincts reported, the tally is 52.8% in favor of Driskell:

Robert Gordon

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

As thrilled as I am to get rid of Ouimet, thank you Gretchen for putting people, not businesses, first. You see, all these taxpayer funded business tax cuts inured only to the top employees at those businesses. Meanwhile, kids, seniors, and the working poor took hits. Good riddance, and welcome onboard Gretchen.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

Awesome! I like this gal.

Rick Stevens

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

Amy - how about posting the amount of money spent by each of the candidates and where the money came from? Like % from individuals, companies, PACs, etc.? Yes, I know one can look that up but how about not making us all look it up individually. Knowing where the money comes from behind proposals and candidates speaks volumes. As well as where the candidates spent their election evening...

Ghost of Tom Joad

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

Nice to see that the views of this city don't parrot this publication. Quimet was a dangerous choice and we all saw through his crooked ways.

Tom and Mary

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

Congratulations Jeff, Your neighbors across the street, Mary and Tom have had a great opportunity to have been the observers of the "Candidate" and the "Family Man" indeed the people who have sent you back to Lansing have made a wise and good decision. Keep up the good work Jeff!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

Poor Mr. Ouimet has not had a real job in this century, and it's unlikely the outside interests that bankrolled his campaign now care much about his future. I'd suggest the community realize the error of its ways, pull together and hold some bake sales and car washes, and help Mr. Ouimet keep his head above water.

David Cahill

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

A real star is born! Driskell will make a difference in Lansing for all of us.

Ron Granger

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

I'll bet republicans wish they could have given her a timeout!

Nick Danger

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2 p.m.

payback for your views on education and retirees Mr Quimet.Look out Rick Snyder

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

Today's lesson: Don't pretend you are a 'progressive Republican' to get elected and then act like a Tea Party puppet once you get into office. In the words of Bob Marley--you can fool some of the people some of the But not ALL of the time.

Susie Q

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Alan, you are correct.Mr Ouimet presented himself as a moderate Washtenaw County Republican in 2010. He voted like a Holland, MI Republican once he got to Lansing. His extreme votes on social issues did not reflect the views of many of his constituents and his support for the drastic cuts in public education were not popular locally.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:14 a.m.

Thank God Driskell will replace ultra wealthy millionaire Mark Ouimet. Ouimet should have known that harming retirees and children would come back to bite him in the bu..


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

The Slickster and his minion Ouimet also doubled my state taxes by getting rid of the property tax rebate. I am a retiree and could use that $1200. Hopefully the legislature will wake up and take away the $1.8B tax break for business.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

To BasicBob: No harm to retirees? My pension was reduced by $200 a month because of the state pension tax. The real harm is to all the individuals that might have benefited from me spending what was disposable income. If you think the state knows best how to spend my pension dollars, look around you. No transportation plan to repair our roads, a new (likely china built bridge) to elsewhere, increased class size, fewer police & fire, etc. Yup, pure Michigan ...........

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

You replaced him with a poor real estate agent !? Not a real working stiff. No retirees or children have been harmed, only the non union middle class. Nothing will change.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:02 a.m.

Congratulations State Representatives Elect Driskell and Zemke & Representatives Rutledge & Irwin! Washtenaw County is now a STRONG DEMOCRATIC seed!

Don Crawford

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:26 a.m.

Well I'd say it's pretty safe to say that Gretchen has won the race at this point. It's currently 2:25am, 43 out of 47 precincts are reporting, and Gretchen is currently leading by exactly 3,100 votes. Ouimet won't be able to recover with just the Webster Township precincts remaining to be counted. Congratulations Gretchen! You're going to do a fine job in Lansing representing the people of the 52nd district. The best candidate won tonight.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:19 a.m.

Ouimet is done. Send him back to his clerk job at the bank. Oh, he was Fired? Ok, he still is fired!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:13 a.m.

Even though the candidates typically have a good pulse how uncounted sectors will vote, it's certainly premature to "call" a race that, as of 0200, is still only 300 votes apart....will be interesting to see if she is forced to eat her words...


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

You need some salt with that post?

Jay Davenport

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:44 a.m.

Yeah it's funny how math and logic work, what are then consequences for you having to eat your bad post?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:17 a.m.

The Scio precincts are all heavy D.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:35 a.m.

The heavily GOP precincts have yet to be counted - I think Ouimet will win.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

Thank you for that cogent analysis, Karl Rove! :)


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

I thought it would be Ouimet in route? That's what you've been telling us for weeks. How's the humble pie tasting this morning?

Jay Davenport

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

Sorry you lost mark


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:26 a.m.

Too Early to Call (Posted at 11:26PM).


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Love what you do with the upper case letters. They are so often are so sadly under-utilized, aren't they?

Jay Davenport

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

The sad ruminating of a ouimet staffer about to lose their job