Ouimet, a past Ann Arbor city councilmember and county commissioner, rode Rick Snyder's coattails to a narrow win two years ago. This year, Saline mayor Driskell could hitch a ride with President Obama: turnout should be about 50 percent higher this year, with most of the extra votes going to Democrats.
But this year, Ouimet has a friendlier constituency. After the 2010 census, the Republican-controlled legislature redrew the Fifty-Second District. Though still central in western Washtenaw County, the new Fifty-Second trades relatively liberal northeast Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Township for more conservative Northfield and Salem townships.
The GOP attached those unwanted Ann Arbor voters to Pittsfield in a reconfigured Fifty-Fifth District--tipping it so strongly Democratic that Republican incumbent Rick Olson decided to retire. Though former Milan mayor Owen Diaz took the GOP nomination, Democrat Adam Zemke has the inside track in the new Fifty-Fifth.
In Ann Arbor's Fifty-Third District, Democrat Jeff Irwin faces only token opposition. And even Olson's sacrifice may not have bulletproofed Ouimet: Driskell is running hard, and both parties are pouring negative ads into the Fifty-Second.