Last night, conservative outsider Lisa McClain claimed victory in Michigan’s 10th Congressional District Republican Primary.
The results came as a shock to many, as polls showed Hernandez with a significant lead in the weeks leading up to the election. One pollster released a poll showing him up 13 points just days before the primary.
McClain ran a great campaign, in large part because of her consultant Scott Greenlee and the rest of their team, but what changed in the final days?
The reason the 10th District even had an open seat was because Congressman Paul Mitchell decided not to run for reelection this year. Calling it quits after just two terms left many scratching their heads. He spent several million dollars losing in Michigan’s 4th congressional district in 2014, and finally won a seat in 2016 after again spending millions. Ironically, Mitchell also claimed to be up double digits the week before the election in his unsuccessful 2014 campaign.
Many Trump loyalists in Michigan still have not forgiven Mitchell for his outspoken opposition to the President, and some believe Mitchell’s differences with Trump are the reason for his premature exit from Washington. Others say it was for personal reasons.
Michigan’s 10th District includes Macomb County, which is one of the famous swing counties that helped the President claim Michigan and the White House in 2016. Support for the President is undoubtedly critical for any Republican running for office in the area.
The Republican candidates all worked hard to tout their support for Trump throughout the campaign. The experts and public polls all seemed to indicate Hernandez would come out the winner on Election Day. So, what changed?
The biggest development in the race was Congressman Mitchell endorsing Hernandez in mid-July. An outside group released an ad, featuring Mitchell, where Mitchell says, “Shane is the only conservative in this race. The others are just imposters.”
Paul Mitchell’s endorsement of Shane Hernandez weeks before the Republican Primary seems like a major blow to his campaign and likely one of the key reasons he lost the election.
Voters’ last impression of Hernandez was seeing their Congressman, who turned on President Trump, say that he wants to see Hernandez take his place in Washington.
At the same time Hernandez had anti-Trump Paul Mitchell trying to push him over the finish line, McClain picked up key endorsements from Corey Lewandowski, 2016 National Campaign Manager for President Trump, Scott Hagerstrom, Michigan Director of the 2016 Trump Campaign, and America’s Sherriff, David Clarke.
Trump supporters continue to show they have created a new political environment, in which elected officials no longer have the same sway to handpick their colleagues and successors, and the voice and opinions of voters can prevail even if they try.