Why Democrats may fare better in Lansing in 2023 than they did in 1983

State budget, economy, recall laws and experience are major differences between 1983 and the upcoming term for Democrats in Lansing.

podium that reads "MI Dems" in front of an American flag

Podium at the Michigan Democratic election night watch party at MotorCity Casino in Detroit on Nov. 8, 2022.

For the first time in four decades, Michigan Democrats will control both legislative chambers and the Governor’s office in Lansing. The last time Democrats controlled Lansing, however, it did not go so well. Dealing with enormous unemployment numbers and a state budget carrying a deficit, they immediately raised taxes. Soon after, recall elections and heightened public displeasure saw them lose their majority. Republican John Engler became the new Senate Majority leader and would later become a three-term governor.

“Governor Blanchard inherited a terrible hand from former governor Milliken.” — Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press

Listen: A reporter compares Lansing’s 1983 Democratic control with current prospects in 2023.



Paul Egan covers Michigan government for the Detroit Free Press. He recently wrote the piece, “Democratic control in Lansing didn’t last long in 1983. Why this time might be different.” He says Democrats may fare better this time because the circumstances and environment are very different.

“Governor Blanchard inherited a terrible hand from former governor Milliken,” says Egan. “He concluded that we needed a significant increase in the personal income tax and a lot of trouble ensued.”

“Governor Whitmer has got all this experience in the legislature. She’s also got four years as governor under her belt,” continues Egan, discussing the conversation he had with former Governor Blanchard about the subject. “He also feels that Governor Whitmer is in a much better position to handle this opportunity than he was.”

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