Race has played a much bigger, more unusual role in the Michigan 14th District race between Clarke and Peters. A voter supporting one of Clarke's opponents was peddling some fairly nasty accusations about Clarke's heritage (he is half Indian and half African-American) early in the primary, but they weren't getting any attention -- until Clarke announced he was forgoing future debates to protest the "racial rhetoric." But he accused "his opponent" of raising the charges without specifying which opponent it was, possibly in an effort to tie Peters, the other main candidate, to the charges. It doesn't seem to have worked. Peters has a reliable hold on his western, Oakland County portion of the district and has worked to make inroads in more diverse Wayne County while boosting his turnout at home -- the exact recipe that victors in prior member-against-member primaries have followed. Several current and former local officeholders are also running, but they trail the two congressmen, while Peters is considered a strong favorite heading into the vote. Michigan also plays host to several other important primaries on Tuesday. Also in metro Detroit, Democratic Rep. John Conyers faces an unusually strong primary challenge in another newly drawn district. State Sen. Glenn Anderson is considered the strongest of several challengers, but they may end up splitting any anti-Conyers vote between themselves. The 11th District unexpectedly became a hot race late in the season, after Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter failed to qualify for the primary, leaving tea party protest candidate Kerry Bentivolio as the only name on the Republican ballot. Local GOP leaders chose ex-state Sen. Nancy Cassis as their consensus write-in "nominee," but she faces a distinct challenge against the only listed candidate, especially since Bentivolio was backed by a large late expenditure from a tea party super PAC, Liberty For All. Still, Bentivolio has some odd liabilities, including acting in a low-budget film that mirrors a 9/11 conspiracy theory. Michigan's liberal write-in laws, which allow ballot counters leeway in determining the intent of write-in voters, also boost Cassis's chances, but we may not know the results until long after results in other districts have been tallied. Finally, in the 6th District, GOP Rep. Fred Upton will likely survive another challenged by former state legislator Jack Hoogendyk. Hoogendyk held Upton to under 60 percent of the primary vote in 2010 and was expected to mount another strong challenge this time, but Upton stepped up to defend himself and attack his opponent early this time, and significant outside help never materialized despite one early anti-Upton ad from the Club for Growth this year.
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