FLINT TWP. — Phil Phelps, 34, of Flushing beat five contenders in Tuesday’s special primary election to emerge as the Democratic candidate for 49th district state representative.
In the November general election, he will face Republican Don Pfeiffer, 40, of Flint who outpolled one opponent — Patrick Duvendeck, of Flushing.
The seat has been vacant since May when Jim Ananich was elected state senator to fill the vacancy created in November when John Gleason was elected Genesee County Clerk.
Phelps received 1,979 votes (38 percent) to top Eli Isaguirre with 1,378 votes (26 pct); Flint Township Supervisor Karyn Miller, 1,201 votes (23 pct.); Don Wright, 337 votes (6 pct.); Trevor Rodgers, 148 votes (2 pct.) and Dan Hipkins, 76 votes (1 pct.); according to unofficial election results posted on the county clerk’s web site.
Pfeiffer pulled in 495 votes (55 percent) to Patrick Duvendeck’s 390 votes (44 pct).
Voter turnout was light with only about 8.8 percent of 104,339 registered voters countywide showing up at the polls.
The 49th district is made up of Flint Township, Flushing City, Swartz Creek City, Mt. Morris City, Mt. Morris Township and part of the City of Flint.
Phelps was chief of staff for state Representative Pam Faris until April of this year when he resigned to run for the 49th district seat. His political resume also includes volunteering for Congressman Dale Kildee at age 13; serving as president of the University of Michigan- Flint College Democrats and as a member of Political Science National Honor Society Pi Sigma Alpha. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2006 while working on Governor Jennifer Granholm’s reelection campaign and acting as a spokesman for the Genesee Health Plan ballot initiative. Afterwards, he took a position in the Michigan State House Democratic Communications office where he worked for 8 Democratic members from the Mid-Michigan area. Next he was chosen by Lt. Governor John Cherry to become a regional director of external affairs for the Granholm-Cherry administration. Later, he worked as a special advisor for House Democratic Leader Richard Hammel before going to work for Faris.
His campaign issues included Jobs and the Economy, Civil Rights, Reproductive Rights Open Government, Retirement Security, Voting Rights and Alternative Energy.
The 49th district is traditionally votes Democratic which makes Phelps all but a shoo-in to win the seat outright in November.
His Republican challenger Pfeiffer most recently ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Flint. He was born and raised in Flint and owns a consulting company in the technology industry, according to his web site.
He described himself as a moderate Republican and his top campaign issues included Public Safety, Fair Taxes & Economic Growth, Investing in Education, Veterans and Accountability. — By Rhonda S. Sanders