Forlini lands big victory in Republican clerk primary, will face Miller in November

Treasurer’s race pits Rocca against Barnwell

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published August 6, 2020


MACOMB COUNTY — Aug. 4 was a good day for Anthony Forlini.

The former state representative and Harrison Township supervisor won about 45% of the vote in a four-way Republican primary for a chance at becoming Macomb County’s next clerk.

He defeated Julia Williams, Jackie Ryan and David Joseph Russell and will advance to take on current Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds Fred Miller this November. There was an overall 32.4% voter participation across the county.

“Obviously, I feel very good,” Forlini said. “It was a nice election; I think a decent turnout. We led a pretty balanced campaign, talking about election integrity, integrity of the position. I think that resonated with people.”

Miller said the county had 212,903 total voters, or almost an additional 100,000 votes compared to the 2016 primary, which had 117,297 votes cast. In 2016, 64% of voters hit the polls, but this time around, only 30% cast in-person ballots.

“We were expecting a massive amount of absentee voting, and we got it,” Miller said. “But really, we had a surge in turnout across the board, across Macomb County.”

The last precincts came in at around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, at which point all precincts countywide showed 100% of results.

Forlini, of Harrison Township, previously served as Harrison Township supervisor for seven years before representing District 24 for five years in the Michigan House. A business owner for 35 years, he currently serves as district director for Congressman Paul Mitchell.

Forlini said his name recognition draws “a high percentage of independents,” as well as how he is a person “who puts politics to the side” and discusses issues.

“The clerk’s position should be the least political of any of the elected positions,” he said. “One of the things I’ve proven is being a good steward, representing all the people and not all friends. People shouldn’t have to go to politicians to solve problems — the system should work.”

Miller touted the way his office has sustained itself in the midst of a pandemic, including never closing to the public and delivering services. He said the office has served over 14,000 people through a virtual platform, which accommodates first-time CPL registrations, marriage records and court records.

He called it “gratifying” to be recognized by the National Association of Counties, which honored four clerk’s office initiatives: “Clerk’s Senior Hotline,” Centennial Farms Program, Clerk’s Corner Intranet and Virtual Clerk’s Office.

“It’s an incredible honor to serve the people of Macomb County in this capacity,” he said. “We’ve worked really hard to deliver services in innovative ways in the face of these election changes and in the face of the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, in the primary for the Macomb County Treasurer seat, incumbent Larry Rocca, who was elected to his first term of office in November 2016, survived a primary challenge from fellow Republicans Sherri Murphy and Erin Stahl. Rocca garnered 42,490 votes (48.4 %) to Murphy’s 25,080 (28.6 %) and Stahl’s 20,208 (23%), according to the unofficial results available at press time.

Warren City Treasurer Lorie Barnwell ran uncontested as a Democrat in the primary and received 87,117 votes. She’ll now face Rocca in the general election on Nov. 3.   

Barnwell was twice elected the nonpartisan treasurer of Warren, most recently in 2019, when she garnered 80.5% of the vote over challenger Arnold Simkus.

Staff writer Brian Louwers contributed to this report.