Incumbent Greg VanWoerkom, R-Norton Shores, advanced to the November general election, where he will face Democratic challenger Christine Baker of Grand Haven.
VanWoerkom defeated Spring Lake challenger Mick Bricker in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the new seat in the state house’s 88th district, with 62 percent of the vote (11,229) compared to Bricker’s 37 percent (6,688).
The Democratic Party race saw Baker take an early lead and set a commanding lead over Jeffrey Noel. Baker finished with 84 percent of the vote (5,555), while Noel got 16 percent (1,057).
VanWoerkom was elected Kingdom Representative of the 91st District in 2018. The 91st district included portions of Muskegon County, including the towns of Montague, Norton Shores, Roosevelt Park, and Whitehall. In the past year, the district lines have been redrawn, creating the new 88th district, which includes southwestern Muskegon County and northwestern Ottawa County.
“We felt good at the start of the elections,” said VanWoerkom. “We put in the work and effort to win. We had good conversations with people at their door about the topics that mattered, and we talked about those released during the campaign.”
VanWoerkom said people have expressed concerns about inflation, the rising cost of everyday items, schools and education.
Baker serves on the Board of Education of the Grand Haven Area Public Schools; she was elected to the board of directors in 2012 and is currently the vice president. She will remain on the board unless elected to the state house in November, in which case she would have to step down.
Baker thanked everyone who believed in her by voting in her favor on Tuesday.
“It was a little stressful, but the results are definitely satisfying,” she said. “I want to thank the voters for their confidence in my candidacy. This is not the first time I have been involved in an election, but there is something more at stake.”
Baker said the issues she will focus on in the future are reproductive rights, voting rights and gun safety.
Baker said that with the redrawn district lines, she doesn’t believe VanWoerkom has the advantage of being a sitting state legislator.
“This is a new opportunity – there is no incumbent in this race,” she said. “In my opinion, this is a brand new ball game for us to consider this fall.”
VanWoerkom did not agree and said that the redesigned district is not much different from its current district.
“I’m pretty well known, I’ve worked in Grand Haven, I go to church in Grand Haven and I have family in the Tri-Cities area, so I know the makeup of the district well in relation to the economy, the people and their unique differences,” he said.
His focus in the coming months is to continue learning about what issues matter to voters, he said.
“We’ll be touring local businesses, talking to job creators and hearing what’s important,” he said.
Baker said she is proud to be one of six female candidates to vote for local voters in November. In addition to Baker, those candidates include Gretchen Whitmer for governor, Dana Nessel for attorney general, Jocelyn Benson for secretary of state, Hillary Scholten for Michigan’s 3rd congressional district, and Kim Nagy for the state’s 31st Senate seat.