The real story, however, may be the political heterodoxy of both these candidates. Darrel Aubertine, sixth-generation Democrat (and dairy farmer) and yesterday's winner, holds a staunchly pro-life position on abortion. William Barclay, conversely, is a lifelong Republican with a whiff of the aristocratic about him, who nonetheless supports choice. Though electing Democratic candidates is the name of the game for liberals this election year, the Aubertine pill was hard to swallow for hardcore, upscale Democrats in New York City. A friend in local politics told me that the sense of trench warfare, especially among older voters for whom abortion rights are sacrosanct, made Aubertine seem "suspect."
The relevance of this to West Michigan is fairly obvious. If a Democrat expects to win anything outside of the City Commission, he is pro-life. Yes, this includes the County Drain Commissioner.
Unlike the Michigan GOP, which expunges all pro-choicers, Democrats are open to candidates whose views reflect those of their would-be constituents. This may annoy the heck out of the Progressive Women's Alliance (our version of New York City liberals) but it's the political reality in West Michigan.
Returning to New York, the win leaves the GOP with only a one seat majority in a chamber they have controlled for decades. For my money, I'd rather have a gun-toting, pro-life progressive in the majority than someone ideologically pure going back to his day job on November 9th.