Mich. voters reject pro-union amendment

DETROIT — Michigan voters handed organized labor a setback in Tuesday’s voting, rejecting a closely-watched measure that would have enshrined union collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.

Proposal 2 was defeated handily, 58 to 42 percent, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, even as President Obama and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow scored comfortable wins in the state.

Michigan voters here said no to all of the six ballot proposals during Tuesday’s night election, including repeal of the state’s emergency financial manager law, which some, including the governor, had argued was badly needed to help Detroit and other struggling Michigan cities.

While Mrs. Stabenow easily beat Republican challenger and former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Republican candidate and political newcomer Kerry Bentivolio will head to Washington, filling the redrawn 11th District seat of former Rep. Thad McCotter, who resigned in July amid a controversy over faked ballot signatures.

Mr. Bentivolio, 61, a former auto engineer and veteran teacher and Army veteran, defeated Democratic challenger Dr. Syed Taj, a physician.

“We’re going to do the right thing. We’re going to go to Washington and represent the 11th District like it’s never been represented before,” Mr. Bentivolio told a crowd gathered at his election night victory party in Novi, Mich.

Despite a massive $31.1 million lobbying campaign from billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun, Proposal 6, a measure to require voter approval to build a bridge linking Michigan and Canada, was defeated 60 to 40 percent. Mr. Moroun, 85, is the private owner of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, and he had argued in supporting the measure that taxpayers should not be on the hook for building a new span – he hoped to do it himself — even as the governor said that the costs would not be handed down to taxpayers.

“It is clear the voters resisted amending the constitution, but it would be a mistake to assume taxpayers support a flawed government bridge that puts taxpayers at risk,” said Mickey Blashfield, who directed the Moroun-sponsored campaign, “The People Should Decide,” in a statement conceding defeat.

In West Michigan, Rep. Fred Upton, who chairs the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, fended off a challenge from Democrat Mike O’Brien to retain his seat in the 6th Congressional District. In attendance at his election night victory party in St. Joseph, Mich., was his supermodel niece Kate Upton.

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