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Gov. Whitmer in Traverse City to support O'Neil for state house race

Max Johnston
Interlochen Public Radio

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was in Traverse City Friday to support Democratic State House candidate Dan O'Neil. She spoke to donors at a fundraiser at the Park Place Hotel. 

Whitmer says if Democrats flip the 104th District, which includes Grand Traverse County, they could win a majority in the state house.

"This is one seat that the Democrats depend on to ensure that we're in a position to set the agenda," Whitmer says.

O'Neil, a Traverse City attorney, lost to incumbent Republican Larry Inman by 349 votes in 2018.

Inman is term-limited and will vacate the office in December 2020. He currently faces two corruption charges and was acquitted of a third last year.

Former Grand Traverse County GOP chair John Roth is also running for the 104th.

"We need some honesty and transparency in that seat," Roth said in an interview with IPR last week.

Roth says the district typically votes Republican, and expects that to continue in 2020.

Aside from chairing the local GOP party, Roth was also on the Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation Commission for six years and board chair for four of those years. 


Roth is also the marina manager at Bowers Harbor Yacht Club in Traverse City.

More candidates could enter the race before the filing deadline on April 21.

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.