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Movin’ On Up: Six Legislators Poised to Make an Impact in 2018

Michigan legislators seek opportunities for advancement

Every two years, political junkies begin to play their favorite parlor game, “Who’s Running for Congress?” Open seats in Congress are rare, however Michigan’s strictest-in-the nation term limits law not only forces legislators from office, but also opens opportunities for legislators to climb the next rung of the political ladder. The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) has not made any endorsements for 2018, but below are legislators to keep an eye on as they look to advance their careers.

Term limits can result in quick ascensions for legislators, but Steve Bieda has proven that patience will open doors as well. Bieda served three full terms in the Michigan House of Representatives, where he chaired the Tax Policy Committee, and two terms in the Senate. Bieda has a well-earned reputation for working across party lines to accomplish goals. With Sen. Mike Kowall (R-District 15), he formed the Legislature’s bipartisan Auto Caucus, which earned him the 2016 “Legislator of the Year” award from MICHauto. When U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI 9) chose to retire after his current term, Bieda threw his hat into the ring for the open seat, which covers parts of Oakland and Macomb counties. Bieda looks to be headed for a showdown with the incumbent’s son, Andy Levin.


After starting his career as a Genesee County prosecutor, it is no surprise that Michigan House Speaker Tom Leonard wants to be the state’s next attorney general. Serving his fi nal term in the House of Representatives, Leonard will face Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton) in the Republican Convention for the right to face off against the Democratic nominee in November. As Speaker, Leonard has been a champion for mental health and automotive insurance reform, but his most enduring legacy might be allowing important policies he did not personally support to move forward including the MI Thrive Initiative and Good Jobs for Michigan.


It takes a talented politician to earn the endorsement of such diverse organizations as the Detroit Regional Chamber and the UAW. That is just what Peter Lucido pulled off in a hotly contested Republican primary for the Michigan House of Representatives in 2014. After cruising in the general election and into a second term, Lucido has his sights set on the Senate’s 8th District, encompassing a broad swath of Macomb County. Lucido has maximized his long career as an attorney to lead on criminal justice issues from his post on the House Law and Justice Committee. Now he is asking Macomb County voters for a promotion and four more years.

Jeremy Moss has taken on some big challenges during his two terms in the Michigan House of Representatives. He arrived in Lansing after serving as the youngest elected offi cial on the Southfi eld City Council. Moss jumped right in, taking leadership roles in a bipartisan effort to expand the state’s Freedom of Information Act through the creation of the Legislative Open Records Act. Most recently, Moss introduced legislation to make the biennial redrawing of district lines for the Legislature and Congress the purview of a nonpartisan commission. The 31-year-old is running for the state Senate, representing the 11th district in southern Oakland County.


First-term members of the Michigan House of Representatives can struggle to build the alliances that make for a successful political career. Sylvia Santana is defying conventional wisdom by launching her campaign for the state Senate’s 3rd district with the support of Mayor Mike Duggan and Council President Brenda Jones. Santana’s leadership stands out in her work to repeal driver responsibility fees that have been a particular impediment to low-income residents looking for work without proper transportation. She hopes that her term in office will convince voters in Detroit, Dearborn and Melvindale to elect her to the Senate.


With a career prior to politics that spanned small business ownership and education, Jim Tedder has a broad perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing Michiganders. In 2017, Tedder was named the chair of the House Tax Policy Committee. In that post, Tedder led the effort in the Michigan House to modernize the state’s tax structure to allow for economic development incentives that the state had not had at its disposal since 2011. Patiently, Tedder worked with his reticent colleagues to bring two key pieces of legislation over the fi nish line. Now, Tedder hopes to take the lessons learned to the Senate’s 12th District covering much of northern Oakland County, Auburn Hills and Pontiac.