Engler Edges Blanchard, Levin Sweeps To Victory
DETROIT (AP) _ Republican John Engler ousted Michigan Gov. James Blanchard by a razor-thin margin today, ruining the Democratic incumbent’s quest for a third term.
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Engler had squeaked past Blanchard, 1,253,469 votes to 1,240,535, a margin of only 12,934 votes.
Blanchard campaign spokeswoman Katie Wolf said early today that a recount was likely.
A beaming Engler told cheering supporters and his staff this morning: ″I know we’ve won this. Wake me up when you know the margin.″
Engler is the first Michigan challenger to unseat an incumbent governor since Republican George Romney ousted Democrat John Swainson in 1962.
In the Senate race, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Democratic incumbent Carl Levin had 1,450,319, or 58 percent. His challenger, Bill Schuette, had 1,036,169 votes, or 42 percent.
Schuette blamed the outcome in part on the nationwide slump in Republican popularity following the October wrestling over the federal budget in Congress. Democrats, who held a 60-50 edge in the Michigan House going into the race, picked up one seat, unofficial returns showed.
Blanchard’s campaign was plagued by missteps. One of his television commercials was criticized as racist; he was criticized for dumping his 78- year-old lieutenant governor, Martha Griffiths; and his ex-wife wrote a book accusing Blanchard of having an extra-marital affair with the woman who is now his second wife.
Early figures showed the Republicans keeping their narrow 20-18 edge in the state Senate. The Democrats kept their 11-7 edge in the state’s 18-member congressional delegation.