KENT COUNTY, Mich. — State Rep. Mark Huizenga (R-Walker) narrowly won the GOP primary for an open West Michigan Senate seat Tuesday.
"It was a long campaign, very difficult and obviously an incredibly close campaign. But today, we feel relief, we're starting to figure out what's going to be next, actually spent the morning taking down signs, I know people are already sick of the whole campaign thing," Huizenga told FOX 17 Wednesday.
Huizenga took home 9,531 votes in a very tight race, edging out State Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming) and former state Rep. Kevin Green, who took in 9,272 and 9,357 votes respectively, according to unofficial totals from the Kent County Clerk's office.
"Obviously three very, very strong competitors, with good name recognition, all with different characteristics, but targeting the same kind of people," Huizenga added.
Huizenga’s campaign garnered the support of several prominent West Michigan families, including the DeVoses and Van Andels. The run up to the primary saw a hefty amount of spending and some negative messaging.
"I know that oftentimes people are quick to judge but it is also important to be providing product differentiators between the candidates. And everything we did that was a comparison, always included documentation and footnotes to help people understand where the references was, that it was factual, that it wasn't mudslinging," Huizenga said. "I've always been wanting to stand up on integrity, availability, and transparency. And, you know, I'll continue to that. It's a tough business sometimes because, you know, obviously, I'm a colleague with Tommy [Brann] in the house, but we different opinions on several subject matter areas and that's okay, that's how politics works.
The former mayor of Walker and small business owner told FOX 17he wants to make sure that people are getting back to work and that taxpayer money is being put to good use. He calls himself the “nerd of the House” who deeply cares about budgets and job creation.
“Let’s be smart with taxpayer dollars. Let's be good with government dollars, and right now we're in a strange situation with so many dollars coming from the federal government that we have to use those dollars judiciously and make sure that they're there for the right reasons, to help people,” Huizenga told FOX 17.
The 28th District seat has been open since January when former GOP State Sen. Peter McGregor was sworn-in as Kent County treasurer. The district covers several cities in Kent County north and west of Grand Rapids, including Grandville, Walker and Wyoming.
Huizenga will take on former Democratic nominee Keith Courtade in the general election in November, though Huizenga is the heavy favorite, as the district is historically a Republican stronghold.
"It is exciting. I really look forward to continuing to serve the people of West Michigan. Being able to represent a larger area is important and I think what's interesting to is to be able to have some opportunities in the Senate to have both appropriations as well as policy and I think that will fit my personality well."
The winner of the November election will serve the remaining one year of the term, and then it's possible come reelection time the 28th district looks much different when maps are redrawn.