Michigan Democrats are still in the minority in the state house, but they are in a better position to influence legislation this year compared to last.
It comes down to numbers.
Last year the GOP had a comfy margin of 18 votes with a 64-46 advantage over the D's.
This year the GOP margin is not nearly as comfy as the spread is 59-51 with 56 votes required to pass any bill.
You can bet that while most citizens were relaxing over the holidays, the brain trusts in both political camps were busy doing the math.
For Rep. Tim Greimel (D-Oakland County), the new House Minority leader, his magic numbers for the next two years are five and four.
If somehow he can convince five Republicans to vote with the Democrats, depending on the issue, Democrats could actually pass some of their legislation.
Or, if Mr. Griemel and cohorts can convince four Republicans to abandon their own party, the R's would not have enough votes to pass the legislation they want.
On paper all of this is plausible. Doable is quite another matter.
They have a little thing they call caucus discipline which is code for any Republican who even thinks about wandering off, there will be consequences. They could lose office staff, committee assignments or even be threatened with a primary opponent in two years.
Keeping everyone in line is the job of the GOP Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Battle Creek) and while he been fairly persuasive on this front, there were six Republicans who bucked the caucus and voted against Right to Work legislation last year and they are back this year.
Rest assured Mr. Griemel knows the names of the gang of six, and as the new legislative year unfolds, don't be surprised if you see him courting them while the GOP Speaker puts the arm on them to stay in line.
All of this makes for a more challenging year for the governor who waltzed along last year with an 18 vote cushion. Now the cushion is not nearly as soft as the Democrats try to make it harder for the GOP governor to get things done.
Stand by for the pushing and shoving.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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