Cambensy takes win

Easily outpaces Rossway, Roberts in state House race

State representative elect for the 109th district Sara Cambensy speaks with canvaser Kent Koehn and his wife Denise during the election viewing party held Tuesday night at Cafe Bodega in Marquette. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — Democratic challenger Sara Cambensy won the race for the 109th Michigan House of Representatives seat in Tuesday’s election.

Cambensy won with 56.6 percent of the total 20,701 votes cast in the decision, according to unofficial results from clerks in Alger, Luce, Marquette and Schoolcraft counties.

Cambensy had 11,719 votes while Republican challenger Rich Rossway got 8,688 votes and Green Party candidate Wade Roberts had 276 votes.

“I’m humbled by the support from the people of the 109th District,” Cambensy said in an email this morning. “By winning, I understand that I’ve been given their trust to take their voice to Lansing, and that I work to represent everyone — not just those who voted for me.

“I’m also proud of the clean campaign my team ran. We made a decision early on to stay focused on the issues, and Lansing respected my wishes to not go negative. I hope my team’s integrity can help set a new tone and expectation in politics moving forward. We have a lot of work to do together to make sure Michigan is a state that can work for everyone.

“I look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead of us, and I have no doubt in my mind that Michigan can be the 21st century economic powerhouse in our nation moving forward. We have the vision, the people and determination to get us there. Thank you for believing in me and electing me as your leader in the 109th District to go to Lansing and get the job done.”

Cambensy, a member of the Marquette City Commission and director of Adult and Community Education for Marquette Area Public Schools, will serve the remainder of the late John Kivela’s term, which expires at the end of 2018.

Cambensy won Marquette County with 9,255 votes, followed by Rossway with 5,821 and Roberts with 189.

She narrowly won Alger County with 1,255 votes to Rossway’s 1,226. Roberts, a retired corrections officer, garnered 48 votes.

Rossway, president of the Marquette Area Public Schools Board of Education and an executive at ABC-TV10, led the vote tally in Schoolcraft County with 1,049 votes, followed by Cambensy with 893 and Roberts with 27.

He also took Luce County with 592 votes, with Cambensy getting 316 votes and Roberts 12.

“We ran a good campaign,” Rossway said in an email this morning. “We did the best we could and it just wasn’t enough. I’m very proud of my team and their hard work. The effort was there, just not the results. We understood from the beginning that this would be an uphill battle, that the Democrats have held this seat since 1952.

“I want to congratulate Sara for her historic victory as the first woman to hold this seat, and I wish her the very best in leading the 109th.”

House Democratic Leader Sam Singh, of East Lansing, issued a statement following Cambensy’s victory: “I am excited to welcome Tenisha Yancey and Sara Cambensy to the House Democratic Caucus, and I congratulate both of them on hard-fought primaries and general elections.

“(On Tuesday), despite negative campaign tactics and significant financial investment by the Michigan Republican Party, U.P. voters sent a clear message that in spite of the results of last year’s national election, they are tired of failed Republican leadership in Lansing. Sara Cambensy ran a positive campaign focused on making Michigan’s economy work for all residents. Michigan House Democrats have the message and the momentum to compete across the state next year, and we are ready to take back the House in 2018.”

The 109th District encompasses Alger County, Luce County, Schoolcraft County and part of Marquette County, including the cities of Marquette, Negaunee and Ishpeming, and the townships of Champion, Chocolay, Ely, Ewing, Forsyth, Humboldt, Marquette, Michigamme, Negaunee, Republic, Richmond, Sands, Skandia, Tilden, Turin, Wells and West Branch.

The Marquette County Board of Canvassers was to certify the results at 1 p.m. today.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is